Swapping the laboratory for a start-up
Helmholtz to fund six innovative spin-offs
Novel antibodies for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, molecular printers for biomedical applications, and software packages to reliably estimate georisks and assess complex future scenarios for industry markets – these are just four of the six business ideas selected in the current twenty-sixth round of the call for proposals for the „Helmholtz Enterprise“ funding program. Each of the six start-up projects receives funding of up to 260,000 euros over a period of twelve months. Half of the money is spent by the Helmholtz Association’s Initiative and Networking Fund, the other half from the participating Helmholtz Center where the technology was developed.
„It is our stated goal to increasingly translate our research into application. Spin-offs are a great opportunity to do so. With the Helmholtz Enterprise Program, we give the company founders a significant boost,“ says Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association. „The funding is intended to bridge the seed phase and give founders the necessary freedom to test and further develop their business ideas in the real world. I wish all of the company founders great success!“ Over the last 12 years, the funding program has supported more than 100 projects and contributed to the founding of almost 70 companies.
The six projects currently being funded are:
1. Innovative nanomaterials with CEN-Mat
Nanomaterials have unique properties that many industries use in their product manufacture processes. In order to achieve the best possible results, the properties of nanomaterials must be individually adapted to the respective application objectives. Thus, there is a need for ever-changing formulations and material compositions of the nanomaterials. The project Cutting Edge Nano Material (CEN-mat) founded by a research group at the Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Stuttgart addresses this need of various industries. Customers include enterprises from the energy, automotive, and pharmaceutical industries. Using a new economical and eco-friendly synthesis route, CEN-Mat can produce various metallic nanomaterials. The synthesis route is impressive due to its simplicity and broad applicability to a wide variety of metallic nanomaterials. In addition, the synthesis allows for targeted control of the properties of the materials, which makes it possible for them to be tailored to each respective end product. CEN-Mat produces highly specialized nanomaterials and advises companies that require highly specific nanomaterials to increase the value of their products.
Seyed Schwan Hosseiny
Tel: +49 711 6862 8141
German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Stuttgart, Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics
2. Interactive market simulations with VECTOR21
When will electric mobility reach the mass market? How does the charging infrastructure have? What impact do low and zero-emission zones have on vehicle markets? Will electric mobility also become the dominant technology for commercial vehicles? The VECTOR21 simulation software – developed at the Institute of Vehicle Concepts at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Stuttgart – supports strategy and planning departments of companies, organizations, and consultancies in answering these and many other questions. The basis for this is an agent-based market simulation, which allows interactive scenario development for the diffusion of alternative technologies in vehicle markets. The founding team plans to further develop the software for other industrial markets within the context of Helmholtz Enterprise. The special feature of VECTOR21 is an interactive live simulation. The user simply accesses input data charts and modifies them and the VECTOR21 simulation software calculates the result in seconds even in the case of complex analyses. The amount of time typically required for iterative coordination within a company or between a business consultancy and its customers is drastically reduced. Instead, a creative atmosphere develops between the partners, allowing to test assumptions and effects in a playful manner.
Tel: +49 711 6862 8267
German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Stuttgart, Institute of Vehicle Concepts
3. High-performance antibodies with Eximmium
The focus of the Eximmium spin-off is a platform technology developed by the Department of Gene Vectors at Helmholtz Zentrum München, which produces antibodies used for diagnosis and treatment according to a new procedure. It works with extracellular vesicles – tiny bubbles – that automatically cut themselves off from cells. The method has several advantages over the traditional production method using soluble proteins: Vesicles contain almost all cellular proteins in their normal environment and with the right spatial structure. The technology enables the identification of previously unknown tumor antigens and generates antibodies for these simultaneously. This has not been possible using standard immunization procedures. In the future, Eximmium will sell new antibodies to manufacturers of biopharmaceuticals.
Prof. Dr. Reinhard Zeidler
Tel: +49 89 3187 1239
Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health
4. Molecular printing with µyPrint
Many applications in biomedical research and clinical diagnostics need precisely defined, high-resolution surface patterns from bioactive substances such as proteins, DNA, or medicinal substances that require testing. Then, the functionalized surfaces are used to present the desired substances on cells in order to test how they interact, for example. Existing solutions for the production of these surface patterns often only offer compromises in terms of resolution, usable materials, pattern flexibility, and speed. To address this problem, a research team from the Institute for Nanotechnology (INT) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) developed an innovative molecular printer with an emphasis on biomedical applications. This allows unprecedented flexibility in the manufacture of particularly extensive protein arrays with resolutions in the nanometer range. Target customers for the µyPrint spin-off in its initial stage are facilities in the fields of biomedical or nano-technological research. Due to the proliferation of micro/nano-lithographic production methods in the industry, commercial users are also perspective customers.
Dr. Uwe Bog
Tel: +49 721 608 28897
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Nanotechnology (INT)
5. Reliable georisk analyses with DcubeRoc
The energy transition is one of the great challenges facing society today. Some aspects of this major transformation concern the geological subsurface, which, for example, is intended for the disposal of radioactive substances and, in addition to unconventional hydrocarbons, also contains massive quantities of renewable energy in the form of geothermal energy. However, using the subsurface also involves hazards such as leaks and seismic activity. Rock formations are rarely homogeneous masses, but rather are permeated by complex networks of cracks that can impact possible natural hazards. The DcubeRoc start-up project, which was developed at the Helmholtz Center Potsdam – GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, develops and sells software modules that can simulate the complex processes in these networks of cracks as realistically as possible for a wide range of geological applications. This enables ministries, energy providers, and mining companies to assess georisks better than ever before. Using this kind of sound risk analysis allows the enormous potential of the geological subsurface to be more safely exploited.
Dr. Jeoung Seok Yoon
Tel: +49 331 288 1716
Helmholtz Center Potsdam – GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences
6. Precise detection of natural resources with ReSens+
Natural resources, such as rare earths or metals, are the basis of modern life. Without them, there would be no smartphones, computers, or cars. To find these resources, traditional mining and resource industries use expensive expeditions and test drillings. New methods analyze satellite imaging or aerial photographs to detect natural resources. If these are taken with multi or even hyper-spectral technologies, their color spectra and intensities provide information that is invisible to the human eye. This allows the composition and properties of surfaces and materials to be accurately determined almost in real time. Using these technologies and specially developed algorithms, the ReSens+ project by the Helmholtz Center Potsdam – GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences can determine the location, quality, and quantity of natural resources in a particular area very quickly from almost any distance. Satellite data, measurements from manned or unmanned aircrafts and various kinds of handheld and laboratory scanners can be used.
The future spin-off will use this method to ensure the exploration and investigation of mineral resources as well as environmental monitoring can be carried out on a large scale in a faster yet minimally invasive manner, i.e. with less impact on the environment. According to the requirements of potential customers, product development has continued and marketing has been expanded in order to successfully position ReSens+ on the market.
Tel: +49 331 288 1023
Helmholtz Center Potsdam – GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences
The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science and the economy with top scientific achievements in six research fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, Aeronautics, Space and Transport. With approximately 38.000 employees in 18 research centres and an annual budget of four billion euros, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organisation. Its work follows in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).
Tel.: 030 206 329-38
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