Dr. Brigitte Angres and Dr. Helmut Wurst earlier worked on the development of synthetic hydrogels in 3-D cell culture at the NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen in Germany, with financial support from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In 2009, they founded the spinoff company Cellendes.
Within the European Commission-funded project ProNano - Promoting Technology Transfer of Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies - researchers have been selected to receive coaching to make their results in nanotechnologies reach the market. Dr. Brigitte Angres and Dr. Helmut Wurst are two of the scientists who have received this service.” During a period of six months we had several discussions with people from ICON, supported by ProNano. We learned for instance about how to improve our business plan and secure financing. They also brought us together with people who had an interest in providing financing, for example, business angels,” Wurst said.
Cellendes has secured financing through a single corporate investor, the German company Aesculap, which has provided enough money for the next few years. They are satisfied with the service provided by ProNano, but would have liked continued support. “The way it was done was very nice and helpful and we were happy with this kind of consultancy. The coaching stopped when we had secured our financing, but we would have liked continued support from ProNano for another year. We could use advice about how to use our limited funding to market our products to scientists using new technologies, such as the Internet and social networks. We have very little experience of that,” Wurst said.
To establish a customer base and become profitable Cellendes are now working on improving their website and product literature as well as setting up databases and new equipment.
“If our potential customers have a system that works to some extent, they can be reluctant to change to our system that can improve their work. The most important thing I’ve learned about taking an innovation to the market is that you must be able to explain your product to the customers, you must be sure about what the benefits and values are for the customers,” Wurst said.
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