Article of the Regional Management Mittelhessen: "From laboratory accident to own company".

"We improve hygiene by using natural resources to protect people's health." This is the self-declared mission that Dr. Schepers has set himself with his newly founded Munditia Technologies GmbH (short: MUNDITECH).


The business idea was more or less a coincidence: During a "laboratory accident" while experimenting with antimicrobial agents, the chemist discovered the potential of his invention in mid-2016.

The trick: His product is based exclusively on a physical/mechanical mode of action without nanoparticles or the use of biocides. The surface coating kills more than 95% of bacteria after only a few minutes. One of these is E. Coli, which is highly relevant in the food industry. Even enveloped viruses and moulds are decomposed. A success that has meanwhile been confirmed by several expert opinions. On which surface the coating is applied is of secondary importance. From wood to ceramics to plastic or metal. The effect remains unaffected.

It was a long way to the final production, which Dr. Schepers denied. The decision process of approval and patent authorities took about two years.

A time in which his technology was withheld from the public. The decisive question for the future of the product was whether the discovery was subject to biocide law or not. Only when it was certain that this was not the case did Dr. Schepers join the Merck accelerator program with MUNDITECH at the Innovation Center in Darmstadt. Until then, he continued research and development on his project parallel to his actual employment. In technology consulting, he worked as a management consultant on the development of new products, among other things to improve hygiene in household appliances.

In the Innovation Center, scientific advice from Merck experts helped him in particular to develop his product to market maturity. At the end of the program, Merck's 120-strong expert panel confirmed to him the potential of MUNDITECH.

Now Scheper's wish was to find laboratory space that provided a good breeding ground for further scaling up the product. "What was important for me was a good infrastructure, a strong industry presence, a distinctive start-up network that offers support, and the regional proximity to my home town of Braunfels. These criteria ultimately led him to the Giessen Technology and Innovation Centre (TIG).

"The good contacts of Mrs. Bienert (Managing Director TIG) to the business development and the open exchange convinced me. I never had the feeling of being ripped off." Tell Dr. Schepers in conversation. The premises that MUNDITECH moved into at the TIG were unconventional, but purposeful. The shower room of a former barracks building was quickly converted into a laboratory. A sensible solution for continuing work on the product without putting a heavy strain on the budget. Until then, the financing of MUNDITECH had been based entirely on own resources. Thanks to the good network of those responsible in the TIG, the managing director came into contact with many other offers of support. Among other things, he was thus able to successfully apply for an innovation loan from WiBank at the end of 2018.

With each further step towards the marketability of the product, the demands on the production facility also increased. In the long term, MUNDITECH needed a truck access road. This was the only way to guarantee, in addition to the delivery of the production machines, a smooth flow of raw materials and finished products in adequate quantities in the future. Here, too, it became clear that a good network is decisive for a successful start in the own foundation:

During a visit to the TIG by the current mayor of Giessen, Peter Neidel, Dr. Schepers presented MUNDITECH. The business development agency of the city of Giessen then brought MUNDITECH together with the team from "Ab Idee ok!", the think tank for founders of Johannes Hübner GmbH in Giessen.

Florian Kern (Abi Idee ok!) explains: "The personal appearance of Dr Schepers convinced us directly. We see great potential in the idea. The enthusiasm has infected us. These were some of the decisive points that convinced us to invest in the product". "The honest and open exchange was convincing. I also drew certainty from the fact that Johannes Hübner does not operate in the same industry. I did not have to worry about my idea being copied. A cooperation that makes sense" adds Dr. Schepers.

In addition to the investment, the contact also brought the required new working space for MUNDITECH. Here the production is now carried out in one hall. Dr. Schepers proudly reports that the production machines have recently been delivered and the first customers from the industrial sector are now integrating the product into their processes. In the long term, he is aiming for operative growth with MUNDITECH. A logical consequence of the versatile application possibilities. Whether in hospitals, in air conditioning systems or in food packaging: You will search in vain for a comparable product.

In his review of the path taken, the chemist sums up: "A faster processing would be desirable, especially with regard to approvals and patent protection. You need a lot of perseverance and patience until the legal issues are clarified. Experience with the start-up network here on site has shown me that monetary means are not the primary resource for the successful establishment of a company. A strong network is much more important.

SOURCE:
Regionalmanagement Mittelhessen GmbH | 05.09.2019 | https://blog.mittelhessen.eu/www/vom-laborunfall-zum-eigenen-unternehmen