Scienion, a biotechnology start-up, has received DM12 million in start-up funding, DM8.5 million of which came from lead investor 3i, Peppermint Financial Partners and IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft. tbg Technologie-Beteiligungs-Gesellschaft mbH/Deutsche Ausgleichsbank invested DM3 million. The tbg is part of a soft money scheme operated for German start-up companies.
There are also negotiations pending with the Investitionsbank Berlin about subsidies under the GA programme.
Scienion began life in April this year within the Science Park Berlin-Adlershof and it is the most recent spin off of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics at Berlin-Dahlem. Scienion has developed a new generation of future-orientated biochips. This will enable scientists to improve methods on how to analyse the causes of diseases and subsequently develop new therapies. Scienion, which has the patent for this technology pending, addresses three highly attractive global market segments: genomic research and DNA diagnostics, protein and proteomic research, and the market for bioactive molecules and pharmaceuticals.
Scienion’s CEO and chairman of the managing board, Dr Holger Eickhoff, said: “We will have our first product out, at the latest, bythe end of this year. Four years from now, we want to occupy a substantial segment of the rapidly expanding biochip market.”
According to management consultants Frost & Sullivan at this time that market will have an estimated volume of several billion US dollars.
Scienion is supported by Prof Dr Hans Lehrack, director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Genetics, Berlin-Dahlem, Detlev Ganten, MD PhD scientific director of the Max Delbruck Centre for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch, and Prof Dr Jens Reich, group leader at the Max Belbruck Centre for Molecular Medicine, bioinformatics division Berlin-Buch.
In December last year the technology was awarded the Berlin-Brandenburg Innovations Prize for outstanding scientific and technological achievement.
Scienions concept is centred on a new generation of biochips about the size of a credit card. The outstanding feature is that the chip has a surface coating that enables bio-molecules like DNA, proteins or other bioactive substances to adhere to it without changing their bioactive properties.
The competitive advantage of this technology is that the wall-less chips make a much more precise testing and matching of molecules possible. Consequently more reproducible results are obtained compared to the traditional method of working with plastic containers which is problematic because bioactive substances adhere to the walls of the containers.