In the world of medical technology and innovation, few companies have captured the essence of nature, tradition, and cutting-edge science quite like Kerecis Iceland. This remarkable journey, led by visionary entrepreneur Guðmundur Fentram, has recently reached a historic zenith with Kerecis’ acquisition by Coloplast for an astounding $1.3 billion.
A Visionary’s Dream: Guðmundur Fentram
Every great story has a visionary at its heart, and for Kerecis, that visionary is Guðmundur Fentram. Guðmundur’s journey began with a deep respect for Iceland’s natural resources and a vision to transform the age-old Icelandic tradition of using fish skin for healing into a modern marvel of medical science.
Under Guðmundur’s leadership, Kerecis pioneered the development of fish skin-based medical products, utilizing the abundant cod resources found in the pristine waters of Iceland. His dedication to both innovation and sustainability has not only shaped the company but also reaffirmed Iceland’s role as a hub of pioneering medical technology.
Revolutionizing Wound Care with Kerecis Technology
Kerecis Iceland’s crowning achievement lies in its groundbreaking technology: Kerecis Omega3. Derived from sustainably sourced cod, this unique bioactive material has revolutionized wound care and tissue regeneration. Kerecis products, such as the Kerecis Omega3 Wound and Kerecis Omega3 Burn, have accelerated wound healing, reduced inflammation, and minimized scarring for countless patients around the world.
Creation of Kereces.
Guðmundur Fentram has a Bachelors in chemistry from the University of Iceland and and a Ms in engineering from the Technical University of Denmark, after moving back to Iceland he started working for Össur. Össur is a well know Icelandic Company that specialises in the development and manufacturing of orthopaedic and prosthetic devices. Founded in 1971, Össur is a well known company in the market for prosthetic limps, and their best known product is called the “flex-foot cheetah” which has gained significant attention when used by amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius during the Paralympics. However, during his time at Össur, Guðmundur noticed that most of the customers of the company where not athletic people, but people with diabetes and obesity. These people often need to be amputated because of their decease and this his amputation process often create wounds that can be extremely difficult to heal.
Doctors often take skin from other parts of people body and patch it on their wounds, but this is not an option for diabetic people, since this extracted skin creates another wound. Guðmundur noticed this problem and started working on the idea of Kerecis in 2008. At the time there where company’s that would use animal skin from pigs to patch up the wounds, but after noticing how much similarity there was between human skin and cod skin he started researching the idea of using cod skin. The same year a shrimp factory in Ísafjörður went bankrupt and Guðmundur bought their research lab. There he starting researching how patching these wounds with cod skin would effect them. Fish skin showed anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that support and improve wound healing in a variety of wounds including burns and diabetic foot ulcers. When grafted onto damaged human tissue, the fish skin recruits the body’s own cells, supporting its own ability to regenerate.
Guðmundur started learning how to pitch his idea to investors and spent much of the next years on getting investors into Kerecis. In 2014, Kerecis got FDA approval in the USA and approval for sales of their flagship product, Kerecis Omega3 Wound, which has been used to successfully treat tens of thousands of patients worldwide. In the process, the use of fish skin grafts has prevented thousands of amputations. The U.S. Department of Defense has used the Omega3-rich fish tissue to treat blast injuries and burn and gun wounds.
Guðmundur talked about that company’s often make the mistake of thinking they are set for success when they have the technology of their idea worked out. He learned that the biggest challenge is not the technology, but solving the problems around getting a new product to the market. For Kerecis, this was getting F.D.A. approval, learning how doctors make decisions for treating their patients and especially learning how the health insurance company’s work in the US. Finding a location for Kerecis in the value chain, over all knowledge of the market and understanding these problems made Kerecis a much more valuable company. For example, Kerecis looked into getting local disrupters for their company in the U.S. but Guðmundur decided that the company it self would be better set handling the promotion and distribution of their own products in the US. In hindsight this turned out to be a very good decision, since Kerecis revenue would only be 1/5 of what it is today if they had outsourced distribution.
A Historic Milestone: The Coloplast Acquisition
In August 2023, Kerecis Iceland achieved an extraordinary milestone by merging with Coloplast, a renowned Danish company specializing in medical devices. This landmark acquisition, valued at $1.3 billion, reflects not only the success of Kerecis but also the trust that Coloplast has in the innovative vision cultivated in Iceland.
As Kerecis becomes an integral part of Coloplast, it opens a new chapter filled with immense potential. Together, these two industry leaders will undoubtedly bring forth even greater advancements in wound care, regenerative medicine, and healthcare as a whole.
Preserving the Kerecis Legacy
While Kerecis embarks on this exciting new phase, it remains committed to the principles and values that have defined the company’s DNA. The legacy of sustainability, innovation, and ethical responsibility, championed by Guðmundur Fentram and the entire Kerecis team, will continue to thrive under Coloplast’s stewardship.
This acquisition not only secures Kerecis Iceland’s future but also amplifies its reach and impact on a global scale. Patients, healthcare professionals, and communities worldwide can look forward to continued excellence in medical technology.
A Bright Future Ahead
As Kerecis and Coloplast unite their expertise, resources, and global reach, the future of medical technology holds exciting possibilities. This partnership is poised to redefine the healthcare landscape and lead to even more innovative and effective solutions for patients around the world.
Join us as we celebrate the remarkable journey of Kerecis Iceland, the vision of Guðmundur Fentram, and the historic $1.3 billion acquisition by Coloplast. Together, they are set to shape a brighter, more innovative future for healthcare and continue to inspire hope and healing for individuals worldwide.