Potential customers and unmet needs

Each year, there are about 400.000 fatal cases and 900.000 new cases of head and neck cancer worldwide1. A visual representation of the incidence all over the world is given in Figure 1.


Fig. 1 | Visual representation of the incidence of head and neck cancers globally1.

Patients with head and neck cancer are currently treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of treatments. Due to hazardous side effects, rising resistance, and treatment failure, current mainstream treatments like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgical resection can be ineffective2,3,4. Therefore, there is a need for effective, less invasive, and more precise therapy, as also became clear while talking to the doctors for our integrated human practices.

Photothermal therapy (PTT) is a minimally invasive and potentially effective therapeutic treatment. This therapy relies on the activation of photosensitive agents by pulsed laser irradiation at near-infrared radiation (NIR) to generate heat for the thermal ablation of cancer tumors. PTT nanoparticles must possess numerous features to ensure a safe and effective therapy, namely (i) bimetallic, (ii) urchin-like NPs, and (iii) employing particles within the size range of 20 and 150 nm. The role of these features in improving PTT effectiveness is further detailed in the implementation page. However, these ‘perfect nanoparticles’ for PTT have not been made yet. Nonetheless, we have found a technology with which we are able to synthesize the ideal nanoparticles. Click on the dropdown to read about this technology:

Our unique nanoparticles have features specifically for PTT. There will only be a demand for our specific nanoparticles when they have been approved by regulatory instances after running through the clinical trials, where sufficient efficacy and safety are proven. Because our nanoparticles have not gone through clinical trials, there is no demand for them yet. This means that focusing on just producing the nanoparticles is not an option.

Another possibility would be to pursue a supplier strategy where we sell nanoparticles to those already working on PTT. However, there is only one company that is currently working on PTT. This company produces its nanoparticles chemically, which indicates they have little interest in the biological method of synthesis. Other general nanoparticle-producing companies are often producing nanoparticles chemically as well. Therefore, it is not likely these companies will have the resources to implement a biological method of synthesis. Moreover, these companies won’t have any expertise in medical applications.

This is why we have decided on the following strategy: After finishing the proof of concept, our exit strategy will be conducted, which is Merger & Acquisition. This exit strategy allows us to spread the responsibilities over the development and to decide to what extent Binanox will be involved afterward. This merged company can consequently invest in participating in clinical trials and the upscaled production of the nanoparticles. Read more about the exit strategy here.

Thus, after completing the clinical trials, we will participate in the market for head and neck cancers, which is predicted to reach US$ 2.99 billion by 2030 globally5.

Read more about the existing solutions, patients’ unmet needs, and the Total Addressable Market, Serviceable Available Market, and Serviceable Obtainable Market under the Opportunity section below.

Possibility, scalability, and inventiveness

Studies on nanoparticles for PTT have found that they must possess the three features described above to ensure a safe and effective therapy. We have based our prototype on these certain characteristics, which give the nanoparticles the possibility to excel in existing solutions for head and neck cancers. Accordingly, our proof of concept confirms that our nanoparticles are able to convert the light of a NIR laser into heat with a ΔTemp of 7.1°C and a PTT conversion efficiency of 44.3%. Moreover, our direct competitor Nanospectra is currently conducting a multi-site pivotal trial for a PTT treatment with nanoparticles, proving that our solution is possible and photothermal therapy is actually a highly promising treatment.

We have thought about our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, which can be seen in the SWOT analysis (Fig. 3).


Fig. 3 | SWOT-analysis

Binanox’ nanoparticles as part of a PTT treatment have several advantages compared to nanoparticles from competitors. This is illustrated in the competitive analysis grid (Fig. 4).


Fig. 4 | Competitive analysis grid

Under Competition, you can read about our direct, indirect, and future competitors and their advantages and disadvantages.

Our solution is expected to be easily scalable as well, due to the big advantage of the green synthesis Binanox utilizes, compared to chemical synthesis, upscaling is way easier. Because of our exit strategy, we will be able to scale up even better, due to the company's resources. Another reason our solution is scalable is the fact that the bioproduction of nanoparticles has various applications, including electronics, sunscreens, military uses, photovoltaic cells, paints, and catalysts, among others33. This means we could expand our market coverage in the future if we want to.

Even though nanoparticles are not new and many nanoparticles have been made both biologically and chemically, our spin-off is definitely inventive. The ideal PTT candidate with optimal characteristics, namely (i) bimetallic, (ii) urchin-like NPs, and (iii) employing particles within the size range of 20 and 150 nm, has not been made yet biologically. Biological synthesis has many advantages compared to chemical synthesis, as described above.

Development plans

We have thought extensively about our development plans. In our business model, you can have an overview of our development plans, including resources and key activities (Fig. 5).


Fig. 5 | Business model canvas.

Underneath, key activities for our Serviceable Obtainable Market are shown in a timeline (Fig. 6).


Fig. 6 | Chronological representation of key activities.

Click on Business Model to learn about the details of the business model.

One of our resources is our intellectual property, which you can read about here.

A crucial resource for our development is funding. A financial timeline has been made to show a general overview of our costs, incomes, and funding sources over time (Fig. 7).


Fig. 7 | Financial timeline. Costs and investments are given on the y-axis, while the x-axis represents the time. Different types of money streams are plotted and described in the legend.

Read about our cost analysis and different concrete forms of funding under Financials.

In order to make our business a success, it is important to address different risks that could occur during the development. The risks and possible solutions at different phases can be seen in Table 2.

Table 2 | Risk assessment during the development of our company.
Phase Risk Possible solutions
Proof of concept No bracing proof of concept Find out about the cause of failure and adjust the method of synthesis
Merger & Acquisition

No suitable company for M&A

Attend network events to gain useful relationships.

Preclinical trials

No acceptance to clinical trials

Strengthen preliminary research by conducting more research

Adjust nanoparticles and conduct consequent research

Clinical trials

Too high toxicity

Lower toxicity by testing different coatings

Engage experts

Clinical trials

Too low efficacy

Engage experts

Clinical trials

Too little funding

Attend network events to gain useful relationships

Question Based Development


Difficulties with scaling up

Engage experts

Scale up to a lesser extent to ensure quality


Production capacity can’t meet patient’s demands

Scale up

A method to decrease risks during clinical trials, called Question Based Development, is described under the read more button.

Skills, capabilities, and stakeholders

Binanox is a very passionate team that consists of people with various backgrounds in the biology field. Also, we are really thankful to have support from our supervisors and advisory board. Our supervisors are people with a lot of experience, knowledge, and skills. Moreover, Leiden University is a big source of support. Leiden University has built a lot of credibilities, experience, and a good reputation over the years. Read more about our skills and capabilities here.

During our project, we have built lots of valuable relationships with stakeholders and experts, like Adam Cohen from the Center Of Human Drug Research and Stefan Ellenbroek from unlock_. Moreover, the opinion and influence of different stakeholders we will have to deal with as a company is visualized. Read more about our stakeholders and experts here.

Long-term impacts

Making an impact analysis is an important part of the project. The direct impact of our product would be to improve the lives of patients with head and neck cancers. Assuming that our product will successfully run through the clinical trials, our therapy will lead to a shift in demand from chemo-, radio- and immunotherapy to PTT with Binanox’s nanoparticles. In the long term, this will lead to significant growth in the Dutch economy. Also, since PTT is less invasive than currently used treatments, patients will need fewer hospital visits and thereby less transportation.

The indirect impact would be the emissions produced by the production, transportation, and disposal of the product. Also, the long-term effects of getting in contact with the nanoparticles, during production, transport, therapy, or via the environment, are indirect impacts of our product. Only little is known about the effect of nanoparticles on healthy individuals. However, we aim to reduce the release of nanoparticles into the environment fully by using a closed sewage system and a water treatment plant to prevent contamination and release of nanoparticles into the environment. In order to filter out the metal nanoparticles, we could use the method of biohydrometallurgy. More details about the upscaled production process can be read in the implementation page.

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