Kancera’s roots can be found in the research on cancer and stem cells carried out by the Karolinska Institute, and also in the industrial tradition established by Pharmacia and later Biovitrum.
In 2006, Biovitrum’s unit for the early development of small-molecule drug candidates was hived off to create the consultancy company iNovacia AB. Between 2006 and when it was wound up in 2013, iNovacia delivered around 40 research projects to major pharmaceutical companies and prominent biotech companies, mainly in the Boston area in the US. The consultancy business generated insight into research strategies for the development of drugs in the international arena, and also established a wide network of researchers and business developers at many of the major pharmaceutical companies and most successful biotech companies in Europe, the US and Japan. In 2008, iNovacia decided to begin development of its own pharmaceutical preparations. The same year, a partnership was started with the Karolinska Institute’s cancer research center (Cancer Center Karolinska – CCK).
These partnerships brought together industrial and clinical expertise in the development of the next generation of cancer drugs. In May 2010, Kancera AB was formed by expertise from the Karolinska Institute and the pharmaceutical industry along with a group of private investors. The aim was to create a unique biotech company focused on cancer that streamlines pharmaceutical development by linking clinical expertise with industrial methods right from the start of product development. The company was formed through the contribution in kind of cancer drug projects developed through academic research since 2003.