After initiating discussions with the Board of Directors, Erik Gatenholm has decided to step down as President and CEO of BICO Group. Maria Forss has been appointed the new President and CEO and will assume office on November 27, 2023, or sooner.
Gatenholm’s trajectory within BICO is one of the great success stories of 3D printing. BICO’s history began when Erik and his partners founded a small bioink startup in the first half of the 2010s. The company, CELLINK, grew into offering low-cost bioprinters and expanded to a global scale, all the way to going public on the Swedish NASDAQ. Then the company, which eventually rebranded to BICO, began a period of expansion via several acquisitions within and without the bioprinting realm, hence emerging as a bioconvergence firm (described by the new name BICO) operating across several fields of regenerative medicine and biomedical research.
“After 8 incredible years, I have decided to hand over the reins of leadership at BICO to someone I believe will take this great company to the next level. My decision to leave, while being difficult, comes at an important time point where the company now pivots towards the next phase of its commercial and organizational journey; driven by the integration, and uniting of all our great people for the sake of enabling the future of life-saving treatments,” Gatenholm wrote in a statement on his LinkedIn profile. “Our new leader will bring decades of relevant knowledge and experience to the organization. The most difficult and deeply felt part in all of this is to leave all the great people I’ve had the true honor of working with over the years. My privilege to work by your side has been and always will be my greatest achievement.
“In 2015, when I first met Hector Martinez – Gatenholm continued – we dreamed of building a company that will one day serve thousands of laboratories with products that researchers truly enjoy and afford. Consumer-inspired, accessible, and disruptive life science products, bringing the daily-life aspect to tech. Today, we are the world’s leading bioprinting company, revolutionizing the way new medical treatments are being developed while reducing the use of animals in research. I am so incredibly proud of what this team has accomplished over the years and how we managed to scale from our very first system delivered to Professor Fakhrul Ahsan at Texas Tech University to more than 32,000 instruments in the field. We are forever thankful for Professor Ahsan and his decision to buy our product and support the start of our journey, and the thousands of following customers we have had the true honor of working with. Your loyalty to BICO will forever be our strongest driver.
“Along the way, we set the target to reduce the starting price of printing human tissues from $300,000 to merely $5,000, allowing thousands of laboratories to benefit from the new era of bioprinting. As a result, managed to scale the company’s product portfolio with accessible and complimentary products, resulting in our net sales developing from $0 in 2016 to $200+ million in 2022. Today, BICO is a global provider of laboratory tools and reagents that enable researchers in more than 65 countries to speed up drug discovery and treatment development. This is a testimony to our agility, creativity, and determination.
“With that, I’d like to give my deepest respect and gratitude to you as my colleagues and partners in building this establishment together. I am also forever grateful to our customers, investors, partners, advisors, collaborators, and Board of Directors for believing in us. Thanks to you, we have forever changed the world.”
Gatenholm will now focus on helping with the leadership transition at BICO and will continue to support the company in its journey to realize the full potential its bioconvergence products and team worldwide.
BICO, in spite of various challenges the company experienced in recent years, is now a major global player and one of the most successful bioprinting companies in the world. The new CEO, Maria Forss (born 1972) has extensive international experience from leading positions in both medtech and pharma companies, such as Vitrolife and AstraZeneca. In the last years within Vitrolife Maria Forss has as the Senior Vice President led the Consumables Business Area. Before that, she was the Vice President of Business Development and Global Marketing. Maria Forss has successfully developed businesses through the whole value chain and in the whole product life cycle as well as acquisitions and integration of companies.
The Board of Directors has, together with Erik Gatenholm, concluded that the timing is right for a new CEO and President. This discussion was initiated by Erik Gatenholm, and he has together with the board concluded that in the next phase, BICO needs a CEO with strong operating skills and experience in scaling a global organization.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to welcome Maria Forss. She has profound leadership skills and life science experience, which will secure steadfast focus during BICO’s further development and create shareholder value”, says Rolf Classon, Chairman of the Board, BICO Group AB. “I would also like to thank Erik Gatenholm for his vision and dedication to building a strong life science company. During his tenure, the company has evolved into a Group built on a market-leading commercial portfolio.”
In order to enable a seamless transition, Erik Gatenholm will remain in his current position until Maria Forss assumes as new President and CEO. To secure continuity Erik Gatenholm will, as a major shareholder, also remain in his role as a board member of BICO.