Success stories

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.

Success, Joy


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.

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, 19 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 32 cases thus far. It is anticipated that there will be more start-ups over the next few years. A total of 20 out of the 32 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 1000 staff and have raised more than a billion in investor funds.


ActiTrexx GmbH
Head office: Mainz (Rhineland Palatinate)
Business activity: Development of cell therapeutics and drugs


Thericon GmbH
Head office: Mannheim (Baden Wuerttemberg)
Business activity: Imaging technology for clinical applications

Norden Vaccines GmbH
Head office: Braunschweig (Lower Saxony)
Business activity: Development of vaccines

AmpliVak Immunotherapy
Head office: Berlin
Business activity: Development of immunotherapeutics

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

Cherry Biolabs
Head office: Würzburg (Bavaria)
Business activity: Drug development


Purenum (formerly mediNiK)
Head office: Bremen
Business activity: Development of medical adhesives


Head office: Halle / Saale (Saxony-Anhalt)
Business activity: Development of vaccines to prevent epizootic diseases; several vaccine candidates undergoing pre-clinical tests.


Head office: Reutlingen (Baden Wuerttemberg)
Business activity: Cross-species biomarker analyses for drug development; has succeeded in raising investor capital with the aim of expanding the technology platform.


Head office: Jülich (North Rhine-Westphalia)
Business activity: Strain development for industrial biotechnology; Successfully completed the first financing round leading to scaling up of process.


Head office: Munich (Bavaria)
Business activity: Drug development; Vaccine to fight helicobacter pylori and Adjuvans in clinical trials.

Head office: Martinsried (Bavaria)
Business activity: Development of RNA immunotherapeutics; Drug candidate in clinical trial phase, Leibniz prize for scientific innovator Prof. Hartmann in 2012, MSD (Merck & Co.) 115 million takeover in 2017€.

Head of office: Leipzig (Saxony)
Business activity: Chip cytometry; Global sales network


Dynamic Biosensors
Head office: Martinsried (Bavaria)
Business activity: Technology to determine molecule interactions; Global sales network, German Innovation Award 2015, a number of successful financing rounds.

Head office: Zwickau/Gera (Saxony/Thüringen)
Business activity: Oligonucleotidetechnology for research and therapy; 2016 – Opened a new plant in Gera.


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.

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 tools; Extending the product range to include CRISPR/Cas9 'DNA scissors'.

Head of office: Freiburg (Baden Wuerttemberg)
Business activity: Neuro-prosthetics; Recipient of "Innovator 2018" accolade by "brand eins Wissen".

Head office: Oberschleißheim (Bavaria)
Business activity: Software solutions to determine substance properties; Re-established as BigChem GmbH  in 2015 in Neuherberg (Bavaria).


Head office: Radebeul (Saxony)
Business activity: RNA technologies for research and therapy
Successful crowdfunding campaign run in 2015.

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.

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.


Head office: Martinsried (Bavaria)
Business activity: Research tools: More than 5,000 clients across 50 countries. Acquisition by ProteinTech in October 2020.


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.