• Science Sparks Start-ups

    Symposium | 19th September 2017

Science Sparks Start-ups

Tuesday, 19th September 2017 at DKFZ Communication Centre

Many thanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate brilliant minds behind scientific start-ups and spin-offs brought to you by DKFZ and Heidelberg Startup Partners e.V., in partnership with EMBLEM, University of Heidelberg and University Hospital Heidelberg.

Marking 20 years of DKFZ Technology Transfer, this symposium brought together scientists, entrepreneurs and investors from all over Germany.

“What do you need to succeed at entrepreneurship? What are the challenges of funding your business? Can you be a part-time entrepreneur whilst continuing with science? What is trending in the Life Science industry?” – are just some of the topics that were discussed. And to top it up, 6 innovative ideas were presented and two winners received the prize of €2,500 each in our Dragon’s Den competition.

Check out our photo gallery!



The main objective of this event is to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs in science. This event will provide opportunities for learning about building a business from scratch and inspire discussions between scientists, entrepreneurs and investors. Through these interactions we will move closer to ensuring Germany is well-positioned to be the best place to develop innovative products and services in this time of flux.


Breakthroughs in Life Sciences and Healthcare sectors happen because of the researchers overcoming many challenges despite the odds. This symposium is a celebration of such outstanding individuals –both those who are already changing the landscape of healthcare and those who are yet to do so.
This event will cover everything from figuring out what a business needs to how relevant your research is in the Life Science & Medical landscape. With a culmination of a Dragon’s Den competition, a business pitch from 6 short-listed candidates, where the best idea and the best pitch will win €2,500 each and a chance to be mentored.

  • Is your idea good enough?
  • Trends in life science and healthcare industry
  • Part-time entrepreneurship
  • What are investors and funders looking for?
  • Skills necessary for success in entrepreneurship
  • Funding models & intellectual property
  • Exit strategies
  • Deals & partnerships
Who should attend?

This symposium will be open to anyone interested in bringing their science to market, in particular in and around Heidelberg area. We expect a variety of backgrounds including but not limited to life science academics, biobusiness leaders, industry experts and investors in areas of biotech, Medtech and pharma.

Dragon’s Den

The application deadline is now over. The information below is for reference only.

Do you have a novel idea or application that would transform lives of many people?

If so, you have a chance to win 2 prizes of €2,500 each and mentorship support from Heidelberg Startup Partners.

6 shortlisted candidates will have a chance to deliver their 4 minute elevator pitch in the Dragons’ Den final on the 19th September 2017. The Dragons will be industry and funding body representatives. All idea submissions will be treated as confidential until you present them on 19th September as one of the finalists.

The competition is open to all staff from DKFZ, DKTK, NCT, University Hospital Heidelberg, University of Heidelberg and EMBL.

  • The competition is open to all disciplines but need to be connected to science
  • The idea does not have to be based upon an individual’s research, as long as the individual believes it to be a viable business idea, and can demonstrate its value
  • Finalists are assigned a mentor from their organisations tech transfer offices to help prepare for the pitch
  • 50/50 vote between Dragons’ choice and audience choice of ‘Best Idea’ and ‘Best Pitch’, prize fund of €5,000


Science Sparks Startups is organized by the German Cancer Research Center in collaboration with Heidelberg Startup Partners an Heidelberg Technology Park.



 Tuesday 19 September 2017
8.30-9.00 Registration
9.00-9.10 Welcome Address by Josef Puchta & Ruth Herzog, DKFZ
9.10-10.30 Session 1 – Money, Markets and Mindsets (moderated by Thomas Hoffmann, Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG)
9.10-9.30 ·         Making Serendipity Happen by Kirsten Leute, Osage University Partners, USA
9.30-10.30 ·         Start-up Funding Overview by Frieder Kern, DKFZ & Thomas Prexl, Heidelberg Startup Partners, e.V.

·         An Option to Fund Life Science Start-ups: Crowdfinancing by Peter Biewald, Medifundo GmbH & Co. KG

·         Corporate Venture as Part of Boehringer Ingelheim´s Innovation Strategy by Marcus Kostka, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund L.P.

·         Discussion

10.30-11.00 Coffee Break
11.00-12.10 Markets – Trends in Life Science and Healthcare Industry (moderated by Andreas Trumpp, HI-STEM gGmbH)

·         Trends in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Personalized Medicine, Digital Opportunities and Collaboration by Daniel Forler, Bayer AG

·         Individualized Medicine –  A New Generation of Onco-immunotherapies by Sylke Maas, BioNTech AG

·         The Impact of Digitalization in Healthcare – Innovative Technologies and Use Cases by Anette Großmüller, SAP Deutschland SE & Co. KG

·         Repositive – A Social Enterprise Enabling Genomics Research by Fiona Nielsen, Repositive Ltd, UK

·         Discussion

12.10-13.10 Lunch
13.10-14.40 Session 2 – Inspirational Stories from Seasoned Entrepreneurs and Newcomers Together with Investors (moderated by Siegfried Bialojan, Ernst & Young GmbH)

·        TolerogenixX – Our Development from a Great Idea to an Investment by Matthias Schaier, TolerogeniXx &  Philipp Rittershaus, High-Tech Gründerfonds PPP

·      Luxendo: From Academia to Global Sales by Lars Hufnagel, Luxendo GmbH & Stefan Herr, EMBL Ventures GmbH

·        The Journey from A to B: Academia to Business by Nisit Khandelwald, iOmx Therapeutics AG & Sebastian Meier-Ewert, MPM Capital GmbH

·        The Mainz Way of Pursuing a Technology Vision by  Özlem Türeci, Ex-Ganymed Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Michael Motschmann, MIG Verwaltungs AG

·         Discussion

14.40-15.00 Coffee break
15.00-16.10 Session 3 – Dragon’s Den (moderated by Viola Bronsema, BIO Deutschland e.V.)

Ice-breaker by Laura Howes, EMBL

Pitches from 6 candidates:

1. REMATCH – Cloud AI for Drug Discovery and Repositioning by Florian Heigwer & Christian Scheeder, DKFZ

2. The Shining 800s – HighLighting Cancer by Ann-Christin Baranski, DKFZ

3. The Future of Peptide Delivery by Robin Tremmel, University of Heidelberg

4. Rainbow Surgery by Sebastian Wirkert & Anant Vemuri, DKFZ

5. TAG It Easy and Clear It up by Christine Koehler & Edward Lemke, EMBL

6. Novel Genetic Tool Ushers in a New Era of T-Cell Engineering by Matthias Bozza, DKFZ

Dragons: Sebastian Meier-Ewert (Ex-MPM Capital GmbH), Marcus Kostka (Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund L.P.), Kirsten Leute (Osage University Partners), Jeroen Bakker (Merck Ventures BV), Karlheinz Schmelig (Creathor Venture)

16.10-16.30 Refreshments & Voting
16.30-17.20 Session 4 – Make It and Break It (moderated by Thomas Prexl, Heidelberg Startup Partners e.V.)

·         Feast and Famine at Phenex – Seven Lean and Seven Fat Years in a Biotech Company by Claus Kremoser, Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG

·         Translational Medicine: From the Personal Perspective of a Startup Company by Michaela Arndt, Heidelberg Immunotherapeutics GmbH

·         Dare Doing – Pioneer Spirit and Industry Firsts to Establish a Biotech Start-up by Sierk Poetting, BioNTech AG

·         Discussion

17.20-18.00 Panel Discussion “Ecosystem for Start-ups in Heidelberg and Beyond” (moderated by André Domin, Heidelberg Technology Park)


Friedrich Richter, BioRN

Kirsten Leute, Osage University Partners

Viola Bronsema, BIO Deutschland e.V.

Sven Kuhlendahl, Progen Biotechnik GmbH

18.00-18.20 Gong Performance Michael F. Liebchen

Award Ceremony for Dragon’s Den

From 18.30 Dinner & Networking

Speakers & Moderators

Michaela Arndt

CEO at Heidelberg ImmunoTherapeutics

Previously Head of Reserach Group “Antibody-based Imunotherapeutics” at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Heidelberg and currently the CEO of a young start-up Heidelberg ImmunoTherapeutics.

Jeroen Bakker

Merck Ventures Associate

Jeroen Bakker, PhD, joined Merck Ventures in 2015 and works now as an Associate in the Healthcare fund. Previously, Jeroen worked at Ttopstart BV where he was instrumental in acquiring over EUR 6m in non-dilutive funding for biotech. Prior to this, Jeroen worked in target discovery at Syntaxin Ltd (Oxford, UK). Jeroen received a PhD in immunology from the University of Amsterdam (NL). In addition, Jeroen obtained a MSc from the University of Leiden. (NL) with a specialization in science-based business and a BSc in Life Science & Technology from the Technical University of Delft (NL). Jeroen is based in Amsterdam.

Siegfried Bialojan

Executive Director of Ernst & Young Life Science Center in Mannheim, Germany

Siegfried Bialojan, who is the executive director and head of European Life Science Center at Ernst & Young office in Mannheim,  has started his career as a PhD student at University of Heidelberg. After a post-doc at the German Cancer Research Center, Bialojan spent 14 years in the pharmaceutical industry (BASF Pharma / Knoll AG, Abbott) in various functions: drug discovery research, drug screening, drug development (ADME), R&D management and later went on to become a global leader in life science consulting.

Now he is the author of German biotech report & provides input to Ernst & Young GmbH biotech and medtech thought leadership reports, as well as assisting advisory client projects as an industry expert.

Peter Biewald

Co-founder and MD of medifundo GmbH & Co. KG

After completion of his degree in economics Peter worked for more than 14 years for DAX concerns in a number of management positions focusing on corporate finance, capital markets, M&A and IR. From 2002 onwards he served as CFO/ COO medium size companies including the Biotech sector. Most of these companies are public listed. Peter serves on the board of a number of companies and also personally invests in start- up companies.

Viola Bronsema

CEO & Secretary General of BIO Deutschland

Dr Viola Bronsema, German, has been the Secretary General and CEO of BIO Deutschland, Germany’s Biotechnology Industry Association since 2006. With its 330 corporate members, the sector association represents Germany’s innovative biotechnology small and mid-sized enterprises (SME). Viola earned her Ph.D. at the Centre for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, before training to become a Public Relations specialist. Since then, she has held a number of different leadership positions in pharmaceutical and diagnostics corporations as Eli Lilly and Roche Diagnostics.

André H.R. Domin

CEO of Heidelberg Technology Park

Dr. André Domin is CEO of Heidelberg Technology Park offering 80,000 sqm rental space and supporting innovation and high-tech companies. He is also on the International Board of Directors of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation and serves as its European Division President. He is Chairman of the Heidelberg Startup Partners and Vice Chairman of BioRN Clustermanagement GmbH.

Heidelberg Technology Park will be expanding its premises at the Heidelberg Innovation Park (HIP) on Patton Barracks, one of the US conversion areas. First stage will be the Business Development Center Organic Electronics (BDC OE) offering 5,000 sqm lab and office space.

Daniel Forler

Strategic Alliance Manager – Biomarker, Global External Innovation & Alliances at Bayer AG

Dr. Daniel Forler works as an Strategic Alliance manager in the department of Global External Innovation & Alliances since Feburary 2013. The function’s mission is to provide access to innovation and generate value through innovative partnering and alliance management.

Daniel studied biology in Freiburg, Leeds and Vancouver and did his PhD in biochemistry at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. He did his PostDoc at Schering AG and started his professional career at Bayer Pharma AG in 2007. He was a laboratory head in target discovery and validation mainly for Oncology. Since 2013 he is working as an Strategic Alliance Manager and is responsible for several oncological partnerships and manages all biomarker collaborations across all indications (Oncology and Cardiovascular diseases).

Anette Großmüller

Expert Precision Medicine at SAP Health

Anette Großmüller joined SAP Health as an Expert Precision Medicine and Domain Expert in June 2016. Beforehand she worked several years within the pharmaceutical industry as Medical Scientific Manager at Daiichi Sankyo and as Key Account Manager Professional Health at Procter & Gamble. Her scientific expertise was build up during 5 years of basic research within the University Hospital Heidelberg. She developed new therapeutic approaches for inherited metabolic diseases during her PhD within the University Children’s Hospital Heidelberg. Additionally, she focused on genetics, microbiology and health economics during her diploma of biology at the University of Bayreuth.

Stefan Herr

Managing Director at EMBL Ventures

Stefan started EMBL Ventures in 2001. He led several investments in Europe and the US for EMBL Ventures, Heidelberg Innovation and a Business Angel. Prior to EMBL Ventures, he served as Managing Direc-tor of Verivox, a 3i backed start-up company. Previously Stefan was Vice President at Heidelberg Innovation and Director Cooperations and Licensing at Hagenuk. Stefan earned his PhD in Physics from the Uni-versity of Heidelberg and received additional training in law and business at the University of Hagen. He was a recipient of the Boehringer Ingel-heim fellowship and is an alumni of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory Ph.D. Program.
Ruth Herzog

Head of the Office of Technology Transfer at DKFZ

As head of DKFZ’s Office of Technology Transfer Ruth M. Herzog enjoys rich experience and extensive knowledge in technology transfer and deal-making in the life sciences, especially in the cancer field. Her expertise includes licensing, spin-off creation, collaboration with industry, strategic alliances and public private partnerships, intellectual property management and business development. She earned an M.A. in economics and management from Technical University of Kaiserslautern and is a Certified Licensing Professional (CLP) and a Registered Technology Transfer Professional (RTTP).

Prior to joining the DKFZ in 1997 she built her business career in sales and marketing in oncology at Hoffmann-La Roche. She received her Ph.D. in molecular tumor biology in 1991 from the University of the Saar.

Thomas Hoffmann

Co-founder and CFO of Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG

Thomas is co-founder and CFO of Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG from Heidelberg since the inception of the company in 2002.  Prior to this he was co-founder and served as CFO for phase-it AG, a bioinformatics spin-off of the DKFZ. Thomas started his career at Lion bioscience AG where he served as Assistant to the CEO from 1997 to 2000. Thomas has 20 years working experience in the biotechnology industry and was involved in numerous transactions including major licensing and asset deals, trade sales, financing rounds and public offerings. Thomas studied business administration and economy and holds a Diplom-Kaufmann degree from the University of Mannheim.

Lars Hufnagel

Group Leader at EMBL, co-founder of Acquifer AG and Luxendo GmbH

Lars Hufnagel holds a group leader position in the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. He studied physics and mathematics and obtained a PhD in the field of quantum chaos at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organisation, Göttingen. In his postdoctoral research he investigated the spatial spread of human epidemics and the mechanics description of living tissues at the the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Santa Barbara, California. His lab at the EMBL focuses on novel imaging techniques for bioimaging. He holds several patents and is the cofounder of two startup companies: Acquifer AG for high content screening microscopy and data analysis, Luxendo GmbH develops light sheet microscopes.
Frieder Kern

Vice Head of the Office of Technology Transfer at DKFZ

Frieder is a biologist with a PhD in chemistry, as well as a graduate of the business formation program “Post-Graduate BioBusiness”. He has worked in two marketing departments of BASF AG and since 1999 he has held positions as  Head of Licensing and a Vice Head of the Office of Technology Transfer at DKFZ. He later on earned his Master of Intellectual Property Law and Management (MIPLM), LL.M. qualification. He was a key player in guiding numerous DKFZ start-ups from their conception to market entry, including GeneWerk, Apogenix, Affimed Therapeutics, Mint-Medical etc.

Nisit Khandelwal

Co-founder Senior Vice-President, Research at iOmx

Nisit Khandelwal is the scientific co-founder of iOmx and serves as its Managing Director and Senior Vice-President, Research. Prior to joining iOmx, Nisit served as PI for a joint research project between the DKFZ and Bayer Health Care from 2014-2016. He is the lead inventor on a portfolio of patents and author of high-impact scientific publications. Nisit completed his undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from Vellore Institute of Technology in India and obtained his Masters degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Edinburgh in U.K. In 2011, he joined the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Philipp Beckhove at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany as a Helmholtz Scholar for his doctoral thesis.
Marcus Kostka

Investment Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH

Marcus is a molecular biologist by training and joined Boehringer Ingelheim in 1996. He worked in various positions like lab head in the Alzheimer and Parkinson disease research, project leader in R&D project management and international external innovation manager in the corporate headquarter of Boehringer Ingelheim. Since 2013 he is part of the corporate Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund team seeking for novel early ideas to build new start ups with founders.
Claus Kremoser

CEO at Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG

Claus Kremoser has studied biochemistry at the Universities of Tübingen and Munich. He performed his PhD in the lab of Friedrich Bonhoeffer at the Max-Planck Institute in Tübingen which yielded publications in Cell and EMBO Journal. After his PhD he wrote the 1st German Biotech Report for EY in 1996 before joining LION bioscience as VP Corporate Development. In 2002, he cofounded Phenex AG, together with Thomas Hoffmann, and acts as CEO since then.
Sven Kuhlendahl

General Manager at Progen Biotechnik GmbH

Since 2014, Sven Kuhlendahl has been General Manager of PROGEN Biotechnik GmbH. He is currently transforming one of Heidelberg’s oldest biotech company into a modern, dynamic player in the research antibodies market. On his way to this appointment, Sven gained extensive expertise at Becton Dickinson in business development, marketing and sales management positions. He started his business career in 1998 at Boehringer Ingelheim after acquiring a PhD in Cell Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham / USA.

For the past 16 years Sven has been directly involved with the regional biotech community on many levels. In numerous business transactions including technology transfer, licensing and large-scale commercial deals, he has built solid relationships with Heidelberg’s research community and with companies ranging from small start-ups to global players.

Kirsten Leute

Vice President for University Relations at Osage University Partners

Kirsten Leute is Senior Vice President for University Relations at Osage University Partners (OUP), a venture capital fund that invests in startups out of academic institutions. At OUP, she is responsible for the relationships with the more than 90 academic institutions that are partnered with the fund, engaging potential new partner institutions, and enhancing and creating value-add programs for the partnered academic institutions. Kirsten is an experienced technology transfer professional, spending 19 years in technology transfer at Stanford University and the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum. Prior to joining OUP, she was Associate Director at Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing.
Sylke Maas

Vice President Sales and Marketing BioNTech AG

Dr. Sylke Maas has over twelve years of experience working at Novartis, Sandoz and Hexal in senior positions that included Global Brand Director at Novartis Pharma in Basel/Switzerland, Head Commercial Operations Management Emerging Markets (Asia Pacific, Latin America) at Sandoz International and Head of Business Unit Oncology, Immunology and Biosimilars at Hexal in Germany. Sylke has extensive experience in International Commercial Operations, Marketing and Sales, Market Access and Portfolio/Life Cycle Management with a focus on retail and specialty market segments. She holds a Ph.D. and a M.Sc. in pharmacy.

Sebastian Meier-Ewert

Co-founder and CEO of iOmx

Sebastian is a seasoned biotechnology entrepreneur and executive. He was Managing Director at MPM Capital from 2012 to 2016. Prior to that he founded a number of companies focused on drug discovery, technology development, consulting and investing in the life science industry. He co-founded GPC Biotech in 1997 and as CSO helped build the company into a leading public European biotech company in the field of oncology drug discovery and development. Sebastian received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry from University College London and conducted his postgraduate research at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London (Ph.D.) and the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin.

Michael Motschmann

General Partner and Director of MIG AG

Michael Motschmann is an entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in building and developing a variety of companies. In 2005 he founded the MIG stock corporation with its registered office in Munich. As investment manager he represents MIG Fonds in different executive boards of MIG portfolio companies.

Fiona Nielsen

Founder and CEO at Repositive

Bioinformatics scientist specialised in genome analysis with 15 years of experience in software development and project management. Fiona left her job at Illumina Cambridge in 2013 to pursue her vision of enabling efficient genomic data sharing and founded the charity DNAdigest. In August 2014 she founded Repositive as a spin out of DNADigest.

Sierk Poetting

CFO at BioNTech AG

Sierk joined BioNTech in September 2014 from Novartis, where he served as Vice President and CFO for the Sandoz Division in North America, a USD 3 billion business. Sierk Poetting joined Novartis in 2006, covering a broad range of responsibilities, such as integrating several acquired companies (approx. USD 10 billion deal value), supporting the execution of numerous M&A and licensing deals, implementing a Finance Service Center via outsourcing/offshoring, setting up controlling and planning processes in various Sandoz countries and business units, leading facility management, IT
and purchasing organizations. Sierk started his career as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, where he advised senior management teams in the health care industry on strategic and operational issues. A German citizen, Sierk holds a Master of Science in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona (US) and a PhD in Physics from the Ludwig‐Maximilians University in Munich (Germany).
Thomas Prexl

Director Startup Support Bureau, Technologiepark Heidelberg GmbH

Today, Thomas is head of the Startup Support Bureau at the Heidelberg Technology Park where he has been actively promoting a support structure for scientific and technological startups and spin-offs in Heidelberg. He has been involved in designing various accelerator programs as well as creating an international network of industry experts and investors. He is also a Managing Director of the Heidelberg Startup Partners, a joint startup support initiative, including Heidelberg’s leading research and educational institutions. He has been one of the masterminds of regional signature events like the {Life Science} meets IT Hackathon or the Startup Weekend Rhein-Neckar.

Before his time at the Heidelberg Technology Park, Thomas has gathered experience in various marketing and business development positions for the electrical industry and an international diagnostics corporation. Thomas has earned a diploma from the University of Mannheim Business School and a doctorate from the University of Basel. Working with the next generation of innovative minds, he holds teaching assignments from the Universities of Heidelberg and Mannheim.

Friedrich Richter

Managing Director at BioRN

Friedrich W. Richter served as Managing Director and Vice President Drug Product Development at Abbvie GmbH & Co. KG until his retirement 2016. Since 2017 Dr. Richter is Managing Director at BioRN Cluster Management GmbH. He has more than 30 years of experience working in the global pharmaceutical industry including companies such as Abbott, BASF Pharma, Novartis.

Philipp Rittershaus

Investment Manager at HTGF

Dr Philipp Rittershaus studied technical biology in Stuttgart and obtained an MBA in engineering management alongside his doctorate at B.R.A.I.N. AG. Prior to becoming an Investment Manager at HTGF, he was a self-employed consultant and implemented a range of life science and spin-off projects. Philipp is HTGF’s contact person for the chemical industry network.

Matthias Schaier

Founder and CEO of TolerogenixX

PD Dr. M. Schaier is founder and CEO of TolerogenixX. In addition to a medical degree of University of Heidelberg, Dr Schaier also gained an MBA from the University of Trier, coming out the best in his year. He has many years of experience in the field of health economics. In addition, since getting his doctorate he has been looking at the issue of inflammation and tolerance and has published approximately 60 publications in this field.

Andreas Trumpp

Head of the Division “Stem Cells and Cancer” at the DKFZ & Managing Director of HI­‐STEM gGmbH

Over the last 15 years the Trumpp team has contributed to a better understanding of the  molecular and cellular basis of normal and malignant stem cell self-­‐renewal and differentiation as well as the role of MYC in stem cells and cancer. For example, they demonstrated that the most potent hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) or pluripotent stem cells can exist in a state of MYC mediated deep dormancy during homeostasis to preserve their genomic integrity. However, bacterial/viral infections or chemotherapy activates dormant HSCs to quickly restore functionality (Cell 2008, 2016 and 2017; Nature 2009 and 2015, Cell Stem Cell 2014). Recently, single cell analyses of the human hematopoietic system reveals a cellular continuum downstream of HSCs without discrete progenitor stages (Nature Cell Biology, 2017). They also have identified a novel pathway in leukemic stem cells which link metabolic traits to epigenetic alterations in AML (Nature 2017). The group has also isolated and characterized circulating metastasis stem cells in the blood of breast cancer patients and identified a novel mechanism that mediates resistance of pancreatic tumors to clinically used drugs (Nature Biotech. 2013; Nature Medicine 2016).

Özlem Türeci

Co-founder and ex-CEO of Ganymed Pharmaceuticals AG

Özlem Türeci is an MD, immunologist and entrepreneur. With her like-minded partners she has built the Mainz Immunotherapy Hub, a public-private ecosystem, tailored to enable sustainable bench-to-bedside translation of disruptive cancer immunotherapy concepts.

She is co-founder and Ex-CEO of Ganymed Pharmaceuticals AG, a clinical stage biotech company developing ideal antibody drugs, recently acquired by Astellas. Her research contributed to foundation of BioNTech AG, the technology leader in personalized cancer immunotherapies, and TRON, a non-for-profit research think tank for translation.

Özlem is Chairman of Ci3, the German Spitzencluster for Individualized ImmunIntervention e.V. and an executive board member of CIMT, the largest European Association for Cancer Immunotherapy. Özlem has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and is inventor on more than 60 patent families. She was awarded the Vincenz Czerny Prize of the German Association for Hematology and Oncology, the Köhler Prize of the German Association of Immunology and various other prizes and scholarships for her work.


Science Sparks Startups is kindly supported by Phenex Pharmeceuticals.



The following research institutes are partners of Science Sparks Startups.


Network partners

The following research institutions kindly support us to spread the word about Science Sparks Startups.



For any inquiry please contact:

Lana Semykina
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
Foundation under Public Law
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg

phone: +49 6221 42-2953
fax: +49 6221 42-2956


or use the contact form on the right.