Interview with Edward Dolk, CEO part 1

14 years ago, the company was erected from the UU. As one of the founders, can you say something about the decision to start QVQ?

The erection of QVQ was a very logical step in 2010, although valorization was not as common back then as it is now. The history of QVQ goes back even 15 more years. At this time, Prof. Theo Verrips was working on the utilization of antibodies in laundry products, toothpaste, and shampoo as the head of the Biotechnology department of Unilever Research. This was not very successful until he was notified by one of his postdocs of  a scientific breakthrough in Belgium regarding the discovery of the existence of an exceptional class of antibodies in camelids. Unilever stepped in as one of the early adopters of  single domain antibodies. In 2010, four PhD students of Prof. Verrips from different labs, among which myself, were brought together to form the “lama-lab” within the cell biology group at Utrecht University. Each had their own research subject, but all projects involved the discovery of novel single domain antibodies via phage display and doing innovative research with them. This resulted in exciting collaborations with top scientific groups around the world.

This ability to generate  high quality antibodies was noticed by many institutes and companies and soon, the lama-lab started working more as a service provider rather than a scientific group Therefore, it was decided to bundle these activities into a CRO, which became QVQ.

What is QVQ’s mission and vision?

Initially, the aim was to become an imaging company, since single domain antibodies are very suitable for imaging. QVQ rapidly developed protocols to efficiently couple imaging agents to the small antibodies. However, as time passed , it became clear that there was a more general need for single domain antibodies for all kinds of applications like cancer therapeutics, pesticides, antibiotics, lateral flow assays and other diagnostic or laboratory tests. Today, QVQ focuses on the discovery of antibodies that can be directly applied in many innovative applications.

The mission of QVQ is to enable researchers who are experts in their field to really make an impact by providing affordable single domain antibody discovery and engineering services. We believe that creating a pipeline of targeting ligands with associated IP in a cost-effective way provides customers a quick path to valorisation. 

Why do you like working at QVQ so much?

QVQ  specializes in making a variety of single domain antibodies for a wide range of scientists.  These scientists have their own unique story of why they require those molecules. And often, these concepts are far more clever than anything I could ever think of. Enabling them to make their technology work and to help transform  their ideas into practice, adds purpose to my work. For instance, by working together, we have positively impacted global healthcare by developing sdAbs for a rapid HIV test that enables women in sub-Saharan African countries to test themselves without having to visit a doctor. Hearing these stories and being part of thesolutions make me smile every day I come to work.  

Being a business director, but also a dad, a husband, a friend, a neighbor, that’s a lot. How are you able to manage all of that?

By making sure I love what I do and by trying to do everything at 100%. When I am at work, I am fully focused on taking QVQ to a higher level. At home, I’m dedicated to helping my children realize their dreams and enjoying family time when going on holidays or a night out with my wife. The same dedication goes into  volunteering at the amazing Maximapark in Utrecht. Combining these things gives me the energy to take much more out of life. However, I also wish I had more than 24 hours in a day to enjoy it all even more.