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“Seed can only grow if it falls on fertile ground”
Translating scientific results into applications requires cooperation between science and industry. This can sometimes prove challenging, as it involves accommodating different cultures and perspectives while at the same time creating a win-win situation for both partners.
We had the chance to speak with the key players behind a very successful partnership between science and industry. Ruth Wellenreuther from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Holger Hess-Stumpp from Bayer share what led Bayer and DKFZ to form a partnership over ten years ago, why their collaboration has continued to this day, and the goals the two partners still want to achieve together.
“I’ll just do that now, without really knowing what will happen next”
Ten years have passed since Mynaric was founded as a spin-off from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). In the meantime, the manufacturer of laser communication terminals has become a public company and remains on a growth trajectory. Co-founder Markus Knapek recalls the early days and tells us what has happened since then.
HQS Quantum Simulations announces strategic partnership with Alpine Quantum Technologies
HQS Quantum Simulations, a spin-off from KIT, starts a strategic partnership with Alpine Quantum Technologies, a spin-off from the University of Innsbruck. The two companies are combining their forces to pave the way for a revolution in computer-aided material design.
We were able to support HQS during the spin-off stage and are excited about this further milestone with the team around Dr. Michael Marthaler.
Lumoview Building Analytics closes financing round
Yesterday, Lumoview Building Analytics GmbH announced the closing of an early-stage financing round. The spin-off from DLR was founded in 2019 and intends to automate its solution for the very fast acquisition and analysis of existing buildings. To achieve this goal, the team mainly eyes the strengthening of its product development team. For 2020, in addition to technical development, Lumoview plans to acquire further customers, especially from German-speaking countries, and to establish sales structures and -partnerships.
Besides Hoffschmidt Ventures GmbH as co-founder, the investors involved in this financing round are the Familie Schneider with several generations of experience in the construction industry as well as NRW.BANK.
Lumoview is supported by the spin-off program Helmholtz Enterprise. We are celebrating this success with the team!
Security teams now backed with more than 3 million euros through CISPA
Research on the grand cybersecurity challenges that our society faces in the age of digitalization – that is the mission of the CISPA - Helmholtz Center for Information Security in Saarbrücken. Transferring research results into technological solutions and scalable business models is one of its core activities. Jointly with a dedicated business development team, CISPA researchers support tinkerers and future entrepreneurs. Private venture capitalists and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research are backing venture teams in the course of product development, business model conception and market entry. This is how funding of more than 3 million euros has been raised, creating 40 jobs. Three new venture projects have now been launched.
Interview with Elisa Fagiolini about her startup project WaMoS (Water Monitoring from Space).
Elisa Fagiolini has been working on her spin-off project WaMoS at GFZ for over a year. Since the middle of last year, she has also been supported by our spin-off program Helmholtz Enterprise. In an interview with the GFZ, she tells us what her project is all about. We will certainly hear more about Elisa Fagiolini and her project.
"made in Hessen" Patenting and marketing of the green supercomputer
From a successful cooperation between the Goethe University and the GSI developed in an overall concept for an energy-efficient cooling structure of large computer. The concept is traded under the name of green supercomputers and is expected to save up to 50 percent of primary energy. By comparison, the data processing centers in Frankfurt consume about 20 percent of the total local electricity. This releases waste heat equivalent to the heating of 10,000 households. By obtaining the European patent, they have given the Munich-based company NDC Data Center GmbH the license for worldwide uitilisation of the technology. NDC thus makes a significant contribution to the resource-efficient use of energy.
The development team with Professor Volker Lindenstruth, former head of scientific IT at GSI and current professor for the architecture of high-performance computers at Goethe University, Professor Horst Stöcker and Alexander Hauser of e3c GmbH are taking the initiative for the future-oriented technology on the market. The green supercomputer stands out with its low purchase and operating costs - it is both environmentally friendly and economical. International customers have also recognized this.
Professor Karlheinz Langanke, Research Director of GSI Helmholtz, emphasizes this as an excellent example of how fundamental research can be turned into practical developments.
Elise raises €3 million in seed round
In November 2019, the young spin-off ELISE GmbH from the Alfred Wegener Institute was able to convince four investors, among them BMW i Ventures, Cherry Ventures, UVC and Ventures Stars, with its production of lightweight structures, and a total of €3 million in funding was obtained.
The team around Dr. Moritz Maier developed the lightweight structure based on the basic structure of micro-organisms of the sea (diatoms) and is therefore particularly interesting for automotive engineering. The structure of the lightweight construction elements allows an optimized use of materials in vehicle production and the integration of the lightweight construction element in a vehicle leads to a possibly reduced fuel consumption. The potential of this technology has already convinced the judges of the Helmholtz Enterprise funding programme. ELISE was founded in 2018.
On the basis of the financing, it is possible to expand the functionality of the software, which has been proven to save up to 90% of the time needed to develop products, and to improve market entry.
Osteolabs lands major deal
The spin-off Osteolabs GmbH from GEOMAR in Kiel was able to land two major contracts last month. Soon, Eurofins LifeCodess GmbH will distribute the reliable and radiation-free osteoporosis diagnostic methods in Germany. In addition, the army of a NATO ally invested 300,000 euros in Osteolab kits in order to research how intensive physical performance and fractures of female soldiers are connected.
The special characteristic of the Osteolab kit is the accuracy of the method. With just an urine sample, it determines the risk of bone loss before the disease breaks out. This enables preventive measures. Osteoporosis statistically affects every second woman after menopause and every fifth man over 60 years.
Professor Anton Eisenhauer at GEOMAR founded Osteolabs in 2018. The interdisciplinary team of marine researchers and physicians developed the early diagnostic method for osteoporosis based on an analytical method from marine research. After the successful support by the Helmholtz Validation Fund, their innovative approach also convinced the jury of the spin-off program Helmholtz Enterprise.
Transfer Bites: Dr. Ibbi Y. Ahmet stumbled upon an innovative surface treatment to enhance the metal to metal oxide adhesion and he has a clever way to find potential customers
“This innovation came about when upscaling photo-anodes for solar water splitting. We were unable to electroplate the necessary metallic current collectors onto FTO (Fluorine doped Tin Oxide) substrates and other reported methods did not provide the necessary thermal stability and scalability required for our project.
When incorrectly preparing an etching solution for our TCO (transparent conducting oxide) substrates we noticed something peculiar. Instead of etching the metal oxide thin films, we managed to convert their surfaces to intermellic alloys. We quickly became aware that our simple, sustainable, low cost and fast surface treatment could be used to significantly enhance metal to metal oxide adhesion, but may also be useful in a wider range of applications.
Before reaching out to various companies we asked ourselves: would our innovation also help them reach their goals? I looked closely at the various companies, examined what they were doing, documenting their products, newsfeeds and highlights, scientists/employees/alumni, their available publications and recent patents. It was through these methods we became informed about the direction a company/market was moving, but most importantly it hinted to some of the key challenges these companies still faced. Approaching a meeting with a potential industrial partner with this insight is indispensable, and allowed us to freely discuss ideas and solutions.
These efforts have been successful and currently a large industrial partner is interested in our technology and we are now conducting a feasibility study and look forward to the new processes we can develop.”
Dr. Ibbi Y. Ahmet
Institute for Solar Fuels, Materials Scientist
DiGOS honoured with Innovation Award Berlin Brandenburg
Since the founding of DiGOS in 2014, the company has been building turnkey satellite laser ranging stations (SLRs) capable of measuring the distance between a ground station and a satellite with millimeter accuracy. Based on the SLR technology, the application range is extended to data exchange from and to satellites and the observation of space debris. For existing and future earth observation stations using satellites, information about possible satellite collisions is particularly important, as the number of satellites in orbit will increase. As a result, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) have each commissioned DiGOS to build a turnkey satellite laser ranging station, which will be deployed in the next two years.
Helmholtz gets three more start-ups off the ground
Their ideas fight complicated urinary tract infections, ensure sustainable natural resource exploration and supply, and answer previously unanswered questions concerning nephrology and gynecology: Three Helmholtz research projects are about to bring their findings to market. To help them do so, they will receive valuable support from the largest German research organization’s “Helmholtz Enterprise” funding program.
“Scientists at Helmholtz research many questions that are important to the well of our society. But in order to take their results to market respectively in an application, some start-up assistance is helpful,” says Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association. “That is why the Helmholtz Enterprise program is one of the ways we support our entrepreneurs.” This gives them the opportunity to apply their years of excellent research in practice. “In addition to this, they often create highly skilled jobs,” Wiestler continues. “That is why we are so pleased to once again be able to fund three highly promising spin-off-ideas. I wish the founders every success as they take the step of entering the market.”
Helmholtz Centers have generated a total of 199 spin-offs since 2005. About half of those spin-offs have come from Helmholtz Enterprise. Three spin-offs are now on the starting blocks: Myxobiotics from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Metaron Diagnostics from the Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU), and TheiaX from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR). The total funding of almost half a million euros over the course of a year is comprised of about €330,000 from the Helmholtz President’s Initiative and Networking Fund and further funding from the Centers, as well as management skills, mentoring measures and participation in an accelerator program.
HZB Award for Technology Transfer for a chip with many application options
Klaus Lips (HZB) and Jens Anders (Uni Stuttgart) received the HZB Technology Transfer Prize 2019 for their project "EPR-ON-A-CHIP - a revolution in spin-based analytics".
"EPR-ON-A-CHIP" has many application options, including energy research and medical diagnostics," explains Klaus Lips. "The principle is analogous to reverse driving in a car when it beeps. This is the chip that sits in the bumper and emits radar signals. We could use precisely such radar signals to detect cancer, for example."
Aluminium foam makes Swiss mountain lodge weatherproof
"In order to help the the walls of the "Anenhütte" in the Swiss Alps finally survive longer than a winter, we have covered them with metal foam sandwich panels. The outer surface was melted down so that the walls also got an organic look. Cold and heat cycles in the laboratory helped to guarantee the durability of the foam panels."
Dr. Francisco García-Moreno (HZB, Group leader "Process imaging and metallic foams", Institute of Applied Materials) in cooperation with HZB spin-off Pohltec Metalfoam.
Berlin Science Award for Steve Albrecht from HZB
On November 7, 2019, Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin and Senator for Science and Research, honoured outstanding research achievements for the twelfth time. Prof. Dr. Steve Albrecht was honoured this year with the "Nachwuchspreis" (Young Talent Award) for his research on novel tandem solar cells. Albrecht teaches as a junior professor at the Institute for High Frequency and Semiconductor System Technologies at the Technical University of Berlin and heads the research group "Perovskite Tandem Cells" at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.
The group conducts their research at the Helmholtz Innovation Lab HySPRINT and is working closely with colleagues at the HZB PVcomB (Photovoltaic Competence Centre Berlin) to develop these experimental tandem cells into a more mature technology. Recently, Albrecht has just published a new world record for a tandem CIGS-perovskite solar cell.
DiGOS Potsdam GmbH nominated for the Innovation Award Berlin Brandenburg 2019
The spin-off DiGOS Potsdam GmbH a from the GeoForschungszentrum Potsdam is one of the ten nominated innovative companies in the Berlin Brandenburg area.
DiGOS Potsdam GmbH develops turnkey solutions for complex geophysical and geodetic observation systems. DiGOS is entering the race for the Berlin Brandenburg Innovation Award with its Laser Ranging System, which is able to measure the distance of satellites with high precision in order to protect future state and private space missions from collisions.
This year, the competition for the Berlin Brandenburg Innovation Award is fierce. More than 200 applications were submitted to the 17-strong jury, of which only ten companies were nominated. The award ceremony will take place on November 29, 2019 in Berlin.
Fingers crossed for DiGOS Potsdam GmbH.
HQS Quantum Simulations closes seed financing round of 2.3 million euros
From the development of more powerful batteries to highly efficient solar cells, finding new materials with specific predefined properties is of critical importance. So far our ability to design new materials using simulation tools has been limited by the lack of sufficient computational power. Designing new materials requires us to understand material properties on the atomic level where the laws of physics are governed by quantum mechanics. Even supercomputing centers can at most solve tiny quantum problems. However, with the rise of quantum computers, our capability to design completely new materials will change drastically. HQS provides the software to facilitate the coming revolution in computationally supported material design. HQS is a spin-off from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and provides software for quantum computers. It was founded in 2017 by Dr. Iris Schwenk, Dr. Sebastian Zanker, Dr. Jan Reiner and Dr. Michael Marthaler. HQS has been supported by Helmholtz Enterprise during the spin-off phase.
The four founders had worked together for four years at the KIT and then took the step to bridge the gap between academia and industrial applications. Initially backed by Angel investors Friedrich Hoepfner and Manfred Ziegler, HQS has now closed a seed round of 2,3 million euros with experienced deep-tech investors UVC Partners, HTGF, and btov.
Mynaric signs 1.7 million euro contract for the delivery of laser communication flight terminals
On October 17, 2019 Mynaric announced the successful closure of a contract with a customer. Using laser beams, the terminal enables the rapid exchange of huge amounts of data over long distances. For the first time, the contract offers the possibility to validate the product in space.
Dr. Markus Knapek, founder of Mynaric, commented: "We are very proud of the trust that our customer has placed in our product with this contract and we are delighted to have now secured our first launch opportunity. It’s great to see our vision of becoming the prime supplier of laser communication technology taking yet another huge leap forward.".
Mynaric is a spin-off from DLR and benefited from the Helmholtz Enterprise funding program during the spin-off phase. The company manufactures laser communication technologies for setting up dynamic communication networks in air and space.
Transfer Bites: Solar electric airplane lands after a 90-minute flight with fully charged batteries
"The sun has completely recharged the batteries of our 500 kg airplane on the descent from about 5 km altitude."
Dr. -Ing. habil. Konstantin Kondak
DLR, Head of Flying Robots Group
Elektra Solar GmbH, CEO
J.A.R.V.I.S. makes Smart Homes safe - First StartUpSecure-Team at CISPA funded
The interest in the Smart Home is enormous. With an increasing number of connected devices, the configuration effort for end users increases and complex security risks arise. A transfer project of the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security wants to counteract this and even significantly simplify usability. Under the leadership of researcher Felix Klein, an eight-member team in the CISPA project J.A.R.V.I.S. (Judicious Automation of Reliable and Verifiable Interconnected Systems) will upgrade a container module with intelligent technology. The goal is to use this demonstrator to develop a configuration platform that enables residents to individually set up intelligent behavior of the individual smart components, easily adapt them, and ensure intention-oriented functionality at all times. Such a solution does not exist so far. The BMBF is therefore funding the project with around 0.8 million euros as part of the StartUpSecure initiative. J.A.R.V.I.S. is the first CISPA project within the framework of the BMBF initiative, which aims to produce research-driven business start-ups in the field of IT security.
Research meets industry: Helmholtz funds new Innovation Labs
Helmholtz has selected nine new Innovation Labs. The research projects will bring science and business even closer together. They will jointly receive 17.3 million euros for a period of five years. More
DESY Start-up wins Innovation Award for laser system
The DESY Start-up CYCLE shined at the world's leading trade fair for photonics, the "Laser World of Photonics": The company's new SOPRANO femtosecond laser system won the Innovation Award in the Biophotonics & Medical Technology category.
SOPRANO is a compact and comparatively inexpensive laser that has been specifically developed for three-photon microscopy. This makes it ideal for imaging living cells. SOPRANO delivers laser light with wavelengths of 1300 nm and 1700 nm simultaneously, enabling investigations of living tissue down to a depth of 1 mm. The company worked closely with biomedical experts to develop the laser system. This approach is now paying off because it has allowed user requirements for the simplest possible operation to be incorporated into the product design right from the start.
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DESY supports the development of the world's strongest biomaterial
A research team from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has produced the strongest biomaterial in the world to date. The biodegradable cellulose nanofibres are said to be stronger than steel. In future, the fibre could be used as a plastic alternative in cars or furniture. At DESY, the fibres are illuminated with X-rays. In this way, the development process can be monitored and further optimised.
Quantum computing: Forschungszentrum Jülich and Google announce research partnership
Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) and Google partner in the field of quantum computing research. The partnership will include joint research and expert trainings in the fields of quantum technologies and quantum algorithms. The partnership includes regular research exchange. “Hands-on workshop and spring schools will be organised at Forschungszentrum Jülich. The Jülich UNified Infrastructure for Quantum computing (JUNIQ), a European quantum computer user facility planned for the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC), will be available for training industry professionals, and will be accessible in the cloud to European users,” says Prof. Kristel Michielsen from the JSC, head of the research group Quantum Information Processing.
Helmholtz to support two more start-ups
For scientists, starting their own business is fraught with difficulties. Helmholtz therefore launched its Helmholtz Enterprise program and its complementary management module Helmholtz Enterprise Plus. Now two more entrepreneurs will receive valuable support from the program. Their ideas will allow water to be managed more efficiently and a large number of fawns to be saved from mowing machines. More
Osteolabs GmbH grabs 1 million euros in venture capital
The spin-off Osteolabs GmbH from GEOMAR received 1 million euros for its osteoporosis test in a first funding round led by Seed and Start-up Fund II of the Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft.
Professor Anton Eisenhauer and his team have developed an innovative method for the diagnosis of osteoporosis that, in contrast to conventional X-ray diagnosis, does not require exposure to radiation and for the first time enables early detection. Thanks to an analysis method for calcium isotopes, the osteoporosis test is able to make an early statement on the occurrence of a possible osteoporosis with a small amount of urine or blood and also to measure the success of the therapy. Early detection enables personalised treatment strategies to be pursued and optimised medication to be ensured. So far, the test is available for both private individuals and doctors on the Osteolabs website. However, the team aims to include the test in the catalogue of measures of the statutory health insurance companies. With the fresh money, the commercialisation of the invention is on the rise.
Osteoporosis is a chronic disease that endangers the stability of the skeleton in every second woman aged 50 and over and in every fifth man aged 60 and over. The bone consists of a hard and a mineral layer. The mineral layer is formed by the storage of calcium compounds in the organic bone matrix. The disease is characterised by the increasing degradation of the mineral layer in the bone. As a result, the bone becomes thinner and more porous.
With the development of its osteoporosis test, the spin-off Osteolabs GmbH proves not only that early detection of osteoporosis is possible, but also that marine research can be applied outside the oceans.
Helmholtz funds three research projects on their way to marketability
Germany’s largest research organization hopes its Helmholtz Validation Fund will build bridges: Support from the fund contributes to developing scientific insights into marketable applications. Three new projects have now been selected and will be funded until 2022 with a total of 1.8 million euros. More
UFZ researcher involved in biogas innovation
The researchers Dr. Heike Sträuber from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and Maria Braune from the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ) jointly developed a process for the production of versatile fatty acids from regional biomass. With this innovative process, the product range of biogas plants can be extended, thus creating another economic sector for biogas plant operators. The process was presented at the 12th Biogas Innovation Congress in Osnabrück on 22 May 2019 and won the German Agricultural Biogas Innovation Award worth 10,000 euros.
The principle of a biogas plant is based on the natural bacterial degradation of organic material in the absence of oxygen. Various products can be produced, such as methane gas, which is used to generate electricity, for example, or biodiesel for propulsion in the transport sector, as well as fermentation residues, which can be further processed into fertiliser.
Despite the production possibilities of a biogas plant, the operation of the plant is often only profitable through state subsidies. The saturated fatty acids capric acid and caprylic acid, which can be produced in a biogas plant using the new process, are special chemicals used in the lubricants, cosmetics and cleaning agents sectors.
In the future Biogas plants will be able to extract even more from our valuable biological waste and contribute to the recycling economy. We are curious to see when the first biogas plants will benefit from this development.
Jülich researchers receive first LABVOLUTION AWARD
With its automated and miniaturized cultivation platform, the working group “Bioprocesses and Bioanalytics” has managed to increase the number of cultivations from 2 to 48 per week and user. This solves an internal but also generally typical problem for research and development projects in industrial biotechnology.
The MiBioLab, a Helmholtz Innovation Lab at Forschungszentrum Jülich, brings this solution from the laboratory to industrial application.
Forschungszentrum Jülich won the LABVOLUTION AWARD for this achievement. The prize was awarded to Roman Jansen, PhD student in the working group “Bioprocesses and Bioanalytics” of Professor Marco Oldiges and MiBioLab staff.
Priavoid GmbH's Alzheimer therapy is about to prove efficacy in patients
The Alzheimer drug candidate PRI-002 being marketed by Priavoid GmbH and developed at Forschungszentrum Jülich has successfully completed Phase I of clinical research involving healthy volunteers. When administered daily over a period of four weeks, the active substance proved to be safe for use in humans. The next milestone will be the proof of efficacy in patients in clinical Phase II.
Priavoid GmbH is a spin-off of Forschungszentrum Jülich that emerged from a project funded by Helmholtz Enterprise from October 2016 to September 2017. The development of PRI-002 has also been financially supported by the Helmholtz Validation Fund.
Click here for the press release of Forschungszentrum Jülich.
Nimiq Acquires Stake in WEG Bank AG
The browser-based blockchain project Nimiq, a spinoff of the Helmholtz Center for Information Security CISPA, recently announced an acquisition of a 9.9% stake in German WEG Bank AG.
This acquisition further solidifies the strategic partnership between Nimiq and WEG Bank on Nimiq OASIS (Open Asset Swap Interaction Scheme). The Nimiq OASIS technology allows bank customers to buy or sell cryptocurrency for fiat currency. Nimiq aims to connect different cryptocurrency markets with the traditional banking network and thereby make the money on fiat bank accounts "blockchain compatible".
Nimiq is an easy-to-use, secure and censorship-resistant cryptocurrency that is native to the web. As spinoff of the Helmholtz Center for Information Security CISPA, the project is striving to combine state-of-the-art blockchain research and web technology.
MyoPax awarded for business concept for development of muscle stem cell therapy and associated biobank
MyoPax-Biobank, a spin-off project of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) funded by Helmholtz Enterprise, was recognized for their business concept at this year's Science4Life Venture Cup. The team around Dr. Verena Schöwel and Prof. Dr. Simone Spuler has developed a method that enables muscle stem cells to be isolated from muscle tissue and multiplied in the laboratory in such a way that these cells retain their stem cell character and thus their potential to build muscles. By setting up a tissue bank, the team hopes to increase the chances of treatment for patients with progressive muscle diseases.
CENmat researches with Boysen the use of direct ethanol fuel cells
CENmat UG, a DLR spin-off and Helmholtz Enterprise project, is an innovative company in the area of chemical process engineering with a focus on nanomaterials that can be used in a variety of ways. The company produces individual nanomaterials among other things for electrochemical energy storage such as fuel cells.
Jointly CENmat and Boysen are researching an alternative stationary fuel cell in the project "EtOx-Cat", utilizing the cheaper and more advantageous ethanol as energy source. Continue reading on boysen-online only in German.
Setting sail in direction of your own company
Helmholtz Enterprise, the program supporting spin-offs from the Helmholtz Association, is calling for new applications. With up to one million euro per year, it supports researchers from the Helmholtz Association to bring their research ideas to market.
This year, Helmholtz Enterprise is focusing on agile business model development through lean startup mentoring: each team will have a mentor in the process of testing market hypotheses and developing the business model. The Business Model Canvas is used as a new tool to keep teams on track. More
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