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Dominic Nicholas

Dominic Nicholas: Pioneering Biotechnology for a Better Tomorrow

Empowering Access to Cutting-edge Biotechnology for All!

To “Democratize” science is to break down the barriers that often confine it within the realms of academia, industry, or privileged circles. It’s about ensuring that the incredible advancements in science don’t remain locked away but instead find their way into the hands, hearts, and minds of everyday people.

To make this accessible to everyone, Dominic is at the forefront. Dominic Nicholas stands as a driving force behind Immobazyme—a pioneering company dedicated to democratizing innovation. His journey is one of passion, empowerment, and a relentless pursuit of transforming bold ideas into tangible solutions.

He is the CEO of Immobazyme and is guided by an unwavering commitment: to bring cutting-edge science to the forefront and make it accessible to all. He envisions a world where groundbreaking biotechnology is not confined to laboratories but is democratized, ensuring affordability and accessibility for everyone.

Central to Dominic’s leadership philosophy is the power of innovation. He champions a culture that empowers his team members to unleash their creativity, turning bold ideas into actionable solutions. At Immobazyme, innovation isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a way of life that permeates every aspect of the organization.

Dominic believes that innovation thrives in environments rich in collaboration and diverse perspectives. He actively fosters an atmosphere where individuals from varied backgrounds and disciplines come together to share their unique insights. By embracing the diversity of thought, Immobazyme harnesses the collective intelligence of its team members.

Risk-taking is a cornerstone of innovation, and Dominic’s leadership encourages calculated leaps into the unknown. Immobazyme’s journey is guided by a spirit of daring exploration, where calculated risks are taken to drive breakthroughs. Through this culture of risk-taking, the company paves the way for transformative discoveries.

Dominic is not just a leader; he’s a mentor who understands the value of nurturing professional growth. He is committed to supporting his team members’ development, creating an environment where talents are honed and potential realized. By investing in their growth, he shapes a team of skilled and empowered individuals.

Under Dominic’s guidance, Immobazyme is not just a biotechnology company; it’s a vehicle for change. The team’s shared purpose—to improve lives and revolutionize industries through innovative biotechnology—drives their every endeavor. Together, they are shaping a future where science is not only cutting-edge but also a catalyst for positive transformation.

Join us as we explore his remarkable path and the profound impact he’s making on the world!

Could you please brief about yourself and what motivated you to embark on this sector?

I hail from East London, South Africa. After high school, I embarked on an educational journey that ignited my fascination with the intersection of science and innovation. My pursuit of knowledge led me to Stellenbosch University, where I pursued a BSc in molecular biology and biotechnology. During these formative years, I found myself captivated by the transformative potential of genetics, biochemistry, and microbiology.

My passion deepened as I pursued an honors degree in biotechnology, followed by a Masters in Microbiology. My focus on developing biosensors to swiftly detect and identify bacterial pathogens was driven by a desire to make impactful contributions to real-world challenges.

Throughout my academic journey, I was struck by a glaring gap: a lack of effective technology transfer from the academic realm to practical applications. This realization fuelled my determination to bridge this gap. I recognized the immense untapped potential for South African biotechnology to revolutionize industries and communities. Thus, I committed myself to embark on the entrepreneurial path, aiming to transform groundbreaking research into tangible, disruptive products.

The journey I embarked upon is more than a professional pursuit; it’s a personal mission to leverage cutting-edge research and innovation for the betterment of society. My experiences have nurtured a deep conviction that with the right blend of scientific expertise, business acumen, and unwavering dedication, we can catalyze positive change and propel our startup into a beacon of innovation within the biotechnology landscape.

Could you elaborate on your company and its inception story?

During the early stages of my master’s program, a remarkable journey began. In collaboration with two fellow passionate scholars pursuing their own master’s degrees, we conceptualized a groundbreaking innovation: a novel method to immobilize enzymes onto inert substrates. The immense potential of this breakthrough became apparent almost immediately. It held the promise of ushering in a new era of high-efficiency, environmentally conscious biocatalysis—a game-changer for industries previously hindered by technological or economic barriers.

Recognizing the significance of our discovery, we harnessed the support and resources offered by Stellenbosch University to give life to our vision. This marked the birth of our startup, Immobazyme, in late 2019. From that pivotal moment, our journey has been marked by remarkable growth and evolution.

From a small but dedicated team comprising the three of us, we’ve since expanded to nearly 10 talented individuals who share a collective commitment to pushing boundaries and delivering innovation. Guided by our vision, we’re in the process of establishing a cutting-edge laboratory that serves as both a hub for rigorous research and a center for manufacturing excellence.

While our roots are firmly grounded in creating industrially relevant enzymes, our journey has led us to a broader horizon. We’ve strategically pivoted to the realm of high-value recombinant proteins—specifically focusing on mammalian growth factors with transformative applications in cellular agriculture and cultivated meat sectors. This strategic move underscores our adaptability and dedication to addressing pressing global challenges through innovation.

Furthermore, our dedication and expertise have attracted meaningful collaborations with leading industrial players. These partnerships empower us to develop and deploy novel technologies and products, underscoring our commitment to making a tangible impact in the markets we serve.

How do you maintain a strong company culture and keep your team motivated and engaged?

At the heart of Immobazyme’s success lies a thriving company culture that is akin to a close-knit family. This atmosphere isn’t just a mere sentiment; it’s a reality that’s woven into our daily interactions. We’ve fostered a workplace where camaraderie is more than just a cliché—it’s a cornerstone of our identity. Our team members have seamlessly evolved into close friends, transcending the confines of the workplace. Whether we’re sharing a relaxed braai at one of our homes or enjoying a rejuvenating trip to the beach, our connections extend beyond the confines of our roles.

However, the strength of our culture isn’t solely reliant on casual interactions; it’s deeply rooted in our approach to empowerment. At Immobazyme, every single team member’s voice matters. We’ve embraced a culture of inclusion and shared ownership, empowering each individual to contribute to decisions and plans that shape our trajectory. This empowerment goes beyond just a sense of involvement—it instills a genuine feeling of personal investment in the company’s goals and milestones.

We recognize that true magic often happens at the intersection of diverse perspectives. This principle guides us to actively seek input from all corners of our team, recognizing that the wealth of expertise and insights held by each member can contribute to more informed decisions. Our management team values this bottom-up approach, acknowledging that they may not always possess the intricate details of day-to-day lab activities. By fostering open channels of communication, we ensure that we’re attuned to the nuances of our team’s work and that our decisions align with the realities they navigate.

What are the key challenges you’ve faced as CEO, and how did you overcome them?

As a CEO, my journey has been marked by a series of challenges, many of which stemmed from my background in science rather than formal business training. My educational path was deeply rooted in scientific exploration, and while this equipped me with invaluable insights into innovation, it also presented a learning curve as I transitioned into the dynamic realm of startup leadership.

One of the most significant hurdles I encountered was navigating the intricacies of entrepreneurship without a traditional business background. Recognizing the need to bridge this knowledge gap, my management team and I dedicated ourselves to a rigorous process of self-improvement. We understood that embracing our roles as both scientists and business leaders was pivotal to our success.

To overcome this challenge, we embarked on a comprehensive journey of education and skill-building. We enrolled in a year-long startup crash course facilitated by Stellenbosch University’s LaunchLab incubation hub. This immersive program not only provided practical insights but also fostered connections with fellow entrepreneurs who shared their experiences and expertise. Additionally, we delved into influential books like Peter Thiel’s ‘Zero to One’ and Eric Ries’ ‘The Lean Startup,’ absorbing the wisdom shared within their pages.

Furthermore, we seized every opportunity to learn from successful business figures across South Africa. Engaging with mentors and seeking guidance from those who had successfully navigated the intricate landscape of entrepreneurship enriched our understanding of the business world.

Our commitment to continuous learning and growth has enabled us to bridge the gap between science and business, turning what could have been a challenge into a transformative opportunity. This evolution not only empowered us as leaders but also enhanced our ability to make strategic decisions that drive Immobazyme’s progress.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs venturing into the same sector?

My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs entering the same sector is to build a dedicated team that shares your passion for solving the challenges at hand. Surround yourself with individuals who are driven by the same mission, and provide them with the necessary resources and support to excel. Recognize that your team is your most valuable asset; their expertise and dedication will drive your success.

Avoid the temptation to shoulder the entire burden of running a biotechnology company alone. The sector is intricate and demanding, requiring a diverse range of skills and perspectives. Our own experience taught us the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Leverage the strengths of each team member to collectively overcome hurdles and drive innovation.

Please give us a few testimonials from your clients and awards or recognition that accurately highlight your achievements in the corporate niche.

Some awards: Immobazyme was recognized/ predicted to be one of Africa’s next unicorns by the team at Hi5

See the full article here.

In 2021, Immobazyme was selected as the Sub-Saharan African “The People’s Choice” winner for the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Catalyst Virtual Pitch Competition.