Through a Protein to Success: The Award-Winning Startup matriheal talks about the past year
Natural wound dressings based on elastin: With this approach, matriheal has aroused great interest and made headlines. In the past year, the entire project has not only gained enormous publicity, but has also gained strong momentum. In the interview with Tobias Hedtke he reveals how everything developed.
From the lab to the media
After the team took 2nd place in the Hugo Junkers Prize in the category “Most Innovative Projects in Applied Research” in March 2021 and followed this up with the award of the IQ Innovation Prize Halle in July 2021, one dares to say: Tobias Hedtke, Marco Götze and Christian Schmelzer are the talk of Halle. They did not expect this success themselves. But the founding team is delighted with the attention they have been able to attract with their innovative wound dressings, which emerged from their joint work at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS on the Weinberg Campus.
“It’s a great recognition for all the work, also for the project as a whole and of course a confirmation for our business idea,”Tobias says.
For this reason, it is hardly surprising that one interview date after the next is announced and matriheal has to leave the familiar terrain, the laboratory, more often than they might like. Besides all the upcoming press appointments and appearances in the “Mitteldeutsche Zeitung”, there will even be a video shoot at MDR, as Tobias happily announced. This chance to gain more visibility and thus get the opportunity to get one or the other investor request, is greatly appreciated by matriheal with their sympathetic modest attitude.
In the fast lane with funding programs
At the beginning of 2020, Tobias Hedtke’s team was still at the very beginning of its project, in the idea phase, so to speak, how it is classically described in the startups scene.
“We all had no real insight into what it means to start a company and what preparations it requires,”Tobias shares.
Since then, a lot has changed and matriheal has been able to systematically develop its product idea and also acquire valuable knowledge relevant to founding a company. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s “AHEAD” funding program was a crucial factor in introducing the team to the startup scene and preparing them for basic, non-industry-specific startup topics. The team also experienced an amazing acceleration of the project with the Accelerator Program of the Weinberg Campus.
As Tobias explained, the Weinberg Campus Accelerator’s focus on Life Science and MedTech was decisive for matriheal to reach the level where they are at now. During the four-month intensive program, which was first realized in June 2020 with matriheal as one of the first teams, Tobias and Marco were extensively trained on industry-specific topics such as regulatory requirements for medical devices or the conduct and costs of clinical trials. According to Tobias, they were also able to learn what sales in hospitals look like, how a purchasing structure is set up in the first place, and who potential contact persons are. The access to experts from the industry, the individual coaching sessions and the ongoing feedback culture were also crucial for their further development.
“The Accelerator Program has not only advanced the project, but I personally have also developed and become more confident in handling our product presentation,”Tobias proclaims.
Tobias also revealed that the vocabulary used in the medical device sector is quite different from that used in everyday life. A very helpful side effect of the Accelerator was the continuous exchange with coaches or other participants.
Investforum Pitch-Day and other Milestones
Team matriheal could not have been better prepared for the next upcoming hurdle, the Investforum Pitch-Day. After countless pitch trainings and sleepless nights revising the pitch deck hoping to have hit the mark this time, Tobias and Marco are ready for the big stage and the spotlights. A big goal, besides the hoped-for investments from potential investors, are long-lasting partnerships that will help the team to jointly enter the market, further develop its products as well as accompany the clinical trials.
When asked what was next on matriheal’s agenda, Tobias made it very clear that on the short time scale, everything was geared towards startup. There is a lot to do at the moment, from contract preparations and licensing agreements to investor talks and team expansions. However, the current focus is on finalizing the financial plan.
Looking to the future, Tobias clarifies that there is of course also a 5-year plan that the team is sticking to.
“After the foundation, we then want to build our quality management system,”Tobias says.
He goes on explaining that the production line needs to be set up and that the biggest goal is to establish the first medical device on the market in 2025. Considering that starting a company has never been on Tobias’ mind up until a few years back, it was even more exciting to listen to him talk about how he envisions matriheal’s future.
“Our best case scenario is that we start up at the beginning of next year, we have 2.5 million euros in investment capital, we get our certification and then we can practically get started,”Tobias explains.
It sounds like a founder’s story straight out of a storybook, and to ensure that the journey of matriheal and the promising protein Elastin continues as ambitiously, fingers are crossed.
If you want to learn more about the team and the project, you can find more information on the website.
Are you also in the process of founding a company? But you need support? Then take part in the Weinberg Campus Accelerator and make your startup a success. Click here to apply!
Author: Kathleen Bier
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