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Biotechnology, a new sector with more than 600 companies, has taken shape in Germany over the past 30 years. Between 10 and 20 companies join the field each year. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research runs the GO-Bio programme aimed at continuing the flow of promising start-ups.
Erfolg, Freude, Ziele erreicht

GO-Bio was launched in 2005 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to stabilise the number of start-ups in the biotechnology sector. At the end of the 1990s, enough venture capital was available to develop feasible ideas generated in technical universities and research institutes into commercial realities at an early stage. By way of comparison, investors nowadays demand substantially higher levels of technological validation and maturity from their start-up ideas. More mature start-up ideas ultimately have a greater chance of market success.

For that reason, GO-Bio applies very strict criteria when selecting projects: the BMBF follows the advice of a jury made up of experienced investors, entrepreneurs and accredited scientists. The GO-bio grant initiative has held eight selection rounds to date, and of 723 proposals some 58 projects have been selected for funding. Of those 58 projects, 18 received funding in the second round after the enterprise had been established. Some teams set up their company without the need for a second stage of funding.

GO-Bio funding has resulted in start-ups or business activities in 28 cases thus far. It is anticipated that there will be more start-ups over the next few years. A total of 22 out of the 28 companies are still in business or have merged with another organisation. One example is the 2017 acquisition of Rigontec GmbH by pharmaceutical group MSD for a price in the hundreds of millions. Start-ups founded through GO-Bio are making excellent progress: they boast more than 800 staff and have raised more than half a billion in investor funds.

Founded 2019

  • Velvio GmbH
    Head office: Regensburg (Bavaria)
    Business activity: Drug development

Founded 2018

Founded 2017

Founded 2016

Founded 2015

Founded 2014

Founded 2010

  • iThera Medical
    Head of office: Munich (Bavaria)
    Business activity: Imaging technology for pre-clinical and clinical applications; several types of devices have national and international market approval, global partner and sales network, Leibniz Prize for scientific innovator Prof. Ntziachristos in 2013, German Innovation Award in 2014.
  • TissUse
    Head of office: Berlin
    Business activity: Multi-organ chips for animal-free substance tests; two- and four-organ chips available commercially, chip with all of the main human organs and different illness models in development; recipient of various animal protection prizes, including one from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (2014) and the ALTEX Award (2017); numerous partnerships with prestigious cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies.
    Head of office: Tübingen (Baden Wuerttemberg)
    Business activity: Drug development; Antibodies to fight against acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in clinical trial phase.
  • Eupheria Biotech
    Head of office: Dresden (Saxony)
    Business activity: RNA-interference-based research toolsExtending the product range to include CRISPR/Cas9 'DNA scissors'.
  • CorTec
    Head of office: Freiburg (Baden Wuerttemberg)
    Business activity: Neuro-prosthetics; Recipient of "Innovator 2018" accolade by "brand eins Wissen".
  • eADMET
    Head office: Oberschleißheim (Bavaria)
    Business activity: Software solutions to determine substance properties; Re-established as BigChem GmbH  in 2015 in Neuherberg (Bavaria).

Founded 2009

  • Riboxx
    Head office: Radebeul (Saxony)
    Business activity: RNA technologies for research and therapy
    Successful crowdfunding campaign run in 2015.
  • BioNTech
    Head office: Mainz (Rhineland Palatinate)
    Business activity: Cancer immunotherapy; therapeutic application undergoing clinical trials, numerous partnerships with big-name pharmaceutical companies, generously funded by German and international investors.
  • ethris
    Head office: Martinsried (Bavaria)
    Business activity: mRNA therapies; various active ingredient candidates in the pre-clinical development stage, partnerships with a number of major pharmaceutical companies.

Founded 2008

  • ChromoTek
    Head office: Martinsried (Bavaria)
    Business activity: Research tools: More than 5,000 clients across 50 countries.

Founded 2006

  • Corimmun
    Head office: Martinsried (Bavaria)
    Business activity: Drug development, 2012 - Sold lead molecule to Janssen-Cilag for 100 million dollars, continued development projects with AdvanceCOR. 

Many start-up teams have participated in business plan competitions or been awarded innovation prizes. The GO-Bio start-ups iThera Medical GmbH (2014) and Dynamic Biosensors GmbH (2015) took home the German Innovation Award in the "Start-up" category. Scientific innovators from Rigontec GmbH, Prof. Gunther Hartmann (University of Bonn), iThera Medical GmbH and Prof. Vasilis Ntziachristos (Helmholtz Centre, Munich), were awarded the prestigious Leibniz prize by the German Research Foundation [DFG] – demonstrating that promising start-ups can be born out of excellent academic research.

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