AUCTEQ Teamfoto bwcon

Mannheim's Pioneering Spirit

How a young start-up could revolutionize antibody production

As a student, he had enough of the cumbersome work with bioreactors. Too many steps were necessary for the cultivation of cell cultures. Today, Valentin Kramer (left) is Managing Director of AUCTEQ Biosystems in Mannheim - a start-up that develops a growing bioreactor. Thanks to Kramer's invention, vital medicines could come onto the market faster in the future. Now, the start-up has been awarded the Roche-sponsored MEXI Existenzgründungspreis (Business Start-Up Award), a prize that promotes bold founders with innovative ideas.

Bioreaktor

The single-use bioreactor consists of an extremely elastic “bubble” which grows with the increasing volume of the cell cultures. This saves plastic waste, time and protects the environment.

A growing bioreactor

Breeding cell cultures for antibody production is a laborious task. Several vessels are needed for a culture to grow to the desired size of 20 liters. Thereafter, the containers are disposed or – if they consist of stainless steel or glass – cleaned elaborately. These manual seed train processes are very labor intensive and susceptible to germs. This is where Kramer's invention comes in: “This has to be easier”, the former biotechnology student thought. He had had enough of the innumerable, time-consuming intermediate steps…

Courage, perseverance and a lot of willpower

In his spare time, Kramer made his first attempts to produce expandable bioreactors from standard condoms. They have to expand up to 20 liters without bursting - perfect conditions? Kramer kept tinkering with his unusual prototypes, sterilized them and developed a closure for the opening to which hoses and containers are attached. This brought him closer and closer to his goal: a single use-bioreactor that expands and adapts uncomplicated to the volume of the cell culture.

Valentin Kramer

“For 2019 we plan to start the fully automated production as well as initial tests with customers; in addition, we are working on a new product – but that is still top secret”, says entrepreneur Kramer proudly.

Standort Penzberg

For Kramer and his team, the MEXI was a win in two respects. Attention in the media has brought the start-up some requests from interested companies. “And of course it's perfect for us to have contacts with Roche now,” says Kramer. Dr. Ursula Redeker, spokeswoman for the management of Roche Diagnostics GmbH, is certain: “Our location in Penzberg, which is one of the largest biotechnology centers in Europe, will be very interested in the invention of the young start-up from Mannheim.”

Mannheim

“We want to play our part in strengthening young companies in the region and support them in developing new ideas and technologies.” – Dr. Ludger Bodenbach, technology developer at Roche and MEXI jury member

Mannheim vibrates

In the metropolitan region, many courageous business founders settle down. Roche benefits from this dense network. The company is constantly reviewing new technologies and research approaches, because innovation is the foundation of today's and tomorrow's therapies. As the second largest employer in the city, Roche assumes social responsibility and supports young talents. This commitment is our contribution to securing the future of Mannheim as a business and knowledge location in a global context.

Further Information:

Full video AUCTEQ Biosystems (German only)
AUCTEQ Biosystems
Science and the City Mannheim
Roche in Penzberg
Antibody therapy today & tomorrow (German only)*
Sustainability and responsibility at Roche