In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and change-makers working on innovative startups, social enterprises and SME’s around Aotearoa New Zealand.
At a glance
Founders: Rick Kiessig and Phil Oliver
Business: Kimer Med
Can you tell us a bit about your business?
We are motivated by the vision of making an enormous positive difference in the world, by reducing the suffering of millions of humans and animals who are afflicted by viral illnesses.
95% of the viral diseases that cause illness and death in humans are currently either incurable or lack specific, effective antiviral treatments. On top of this, the limited number of antiviral drugs available are mostly highly virus-specific and relatively toxic, with many unpleasant side effects.
Kimer Med has developed a family of broad-spectrum antiviral compounds that show effectiveness against seven viruses to date, including Dengue and Zika. Based on what we know about how the compounds work, we think we will be able to optimise them further to work against many more. In addition, we believe we can develop an antiviral platform that will enable us to rapidly produce customised, targeted antivirals for yet-to-emerge pandemic threats.
Our compounds are in late stage pre-clinical development, and we plan to begin a series A fund raise later in 2023 as we move towards clinical trials. Our goal is to provide safe, effective antiviral treatments for infectious viral diseases, chronic viral illness and as protection against the threats of biowarfare, bioterrorism and emerging pandemics.
What’s the backstory for your business idea?
Both of Kimer Med’s cofounders (Rick Kiessig and Phil Oliver) have extensive backgrounds and interest in science and technology, and were aware of the work of Dr Todd Rider, who published a paper on broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutics (DRACO) in 2011, and later presented it at a SENS conference in 2014.
Less than a decade later, the Covid-19 pandemic shone a harsh light on the desperate need for effective broad-spectrum antivirals. Phil and I were discussing these matters and were curious about the status of Rider’s work. When we investigated, we discovered that he’d failed to gain funding to continue his work and it had been abandoned. Given the obvious need, in August 2020, we decided to make the most of our scientific and entrepreneurial experience to pursue the promise of this life-saving technology, and so we founded Kimer Med.
What programmes, learning or mentoring, or resources have been of assistance so far?
Kimer Med have so far appointed three advisory board members to assist with our current business plans. They are all experts in relevant fields, and bring specialist knowledge and important industry connections to the table.
The person who taught me the most about business was my father—both directly, and indirectly over many years as I watched him start and run successful companies.
Regarding suggestions for books and the like, my experience has been that there’s really no substitute for learning by doing. You’ll learn more by starting a company yourself, even if you fail, than you’ll learn from any book or programme.