- Acquisition of JeNaCell expands Evonik’s portfolio of biomaterials used in medical technology
- JeNaCell to realize full potential of its innovative technology and further expand its technology portfolio with Evonik’s support
- High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) financed the seed round in 2012 together with the Foundation for Technology, Innovation and Research Thuringia (STIFT).
- bm|t acquired stake in JeNaCell in 2015 together with Sparkasse Jena-Saale-Holzland and HTGF fund investor Evonik Venture Capital
Jena/Essen/Bonn/Erfurt, 2 August, 2021 – Evonik is fully acquiring German biotech company JeNaCell, expanding its biomaterials portfolio to provide biotechnologically derived cellulose. The nature-identical material developed by JeNaCell is used in medical technology and dermatology for the treatment of wounds and burns as well as in hydroactive skin care. JeNaCell’s employees will continue to work at the development and production site in Jena, Germany.
“JeNaCell is a great example for the importance of the German innovation landscape and the value it can bring to corporations,” said Bernhard Mohr, head of Evonik Venture Capital (EVC). “The consortium of leading German investors recognized the industry shift to nature-identical materials early on and actively provided JeNaCell with support and guidance to develop this technology. EVC got to know the start-up through HTGF. Its relevance to the corporation’s innovation growth fields was the crucial factor behind the investment.”
“Our young company has been on an exciting journey since its foundation. We are delighted to pursue our vision together with Evonik and realize our full potential. This has been made possible through the dedicated support we have consistently received in all matters from a team of investors that has grown over the years,” said Dana Kralisch, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of JeNaCell. She also highlighted how grateful the whole team was for the vital support they received during the first few precarious years when setting up the company.
As part of its extensive work on panels of judges, High-Tech Gründerfonds came across JeNaCell for the first time in 2010 as an EXIST judge. Together with STIFT and a German family of investors, it financed the company’s seed round in 2012. bm|t came on board in 2015 as part of a Series A financing round, together with Sparkasse Jena-Saale-Holzland, and they were then joined by Evonik Venture Capital (EVC) in the second closing. EVC, as lead investor, along with bm|t and HTGF met the lion’s share of the company’s financing needs during multiple joint financing rounds.
Following the complete takeover, JeNaCell’s portfolio will now be integrated into Evonik’s health care business. Through the move, the corporation will accelerate the portfolio shift of its Nutrition & Care growth division towards system solutions and expand the division-wide technology platform of natural materials for medical technology.
“Evonik’s acquisition of JeNaCell provides impressive proof of how cooperation between start-ups and corporations can lead to a win-win situation,” emphasised Alex von Frankenberg, Managing Director of High-Tech Gründerfonds. “As a seed investor, we’re delighted that we can support this by acting as a platform of exchange between start-ups, investors, industry and SMEs,” Frankenberg added.
JeNaCell is a spin-off from the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena in Germany. It started out with a small pilot facility on two lab tables, and has now grown into a large cleanroom production hall with hexa facilities in Jena. In 2017, the company launched its first product, epicite, a medical wound dressing for the treatment of chronic wounds, surgical wounds and burns that is based on biotechnologically derived cellulose. It is a skin-friendly and soft biomaterial that provides a healing-promoting microclimate on the wound and can be removed painlessly. Further technologies developed by JeNaCell include soft tissue implants, transdermal delivery systems and dermatological applications.
Martin Pfister, Principal at HTGF, came across JeNaCell back in 2010: “The founders showed tremendous energy when presenting the laboratory-scale method to produce biotech cellulose that they had developed during their PhDs. We experienced all of the usual highs and lows of a start-up together, and I’m delighted that JeNaCell can now continue to develop its products in much larger dimensions and bring them to customers.”
Katrin Uschmann, Senior Investment Manager at bm|t, comments: “I’m really pleased that in Evonik, we’ve found a partner for JeNaCell that is an experienced market player and a perfect fit strategically, and one that will continue to develop the company at its Thuringia base. In return, Evonik gains a highly innovative product and an excellent team.”
“JenaCell GmbH is a textbook example of the outstanding technology start-ups from Thuringia. In addition to establishing our support for innovative start-ups, we have consistently built up our mission investment activities within our investments. As one of the first investors, we were able to support the team of founders led by PD Dr Dana Kralisch. We’d like to congratulate JeNaCell GmbH on its success and thank everybody who believed in the technology and the JeNaCell team from day one,” said Dr Sven Günther, CEO of the Foundation for Technology, Innovation and Research Thuringia (STIFT).
About Evonik Venture Capital
With a fund size of €250 million, Evonik Venture Capital (EVC) has made more than 30 investments since 2012, both direct and fund investments. EVC has offices in Germany, the U.S.A. and China and invests in innovative technologies and disruptive business models in the fields of Nutrition & Care, Specialty Additives and Smart Materials, as well as enabling digital technologies. The EVC team of experienced investment managers provide portfolio companies comprehensive support. The investment scope ranges from early stage to growth stage with investment volume per portfolio company of up to €15 million.
About High-Tech Gründerfonds
High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) is a seed investor that finances high-potential, tech-driven start-ups. With around EUR 900 million in total investment volume across three funds and an international network of partners, HTGF has already helped forge more than 600 start-ups since 2005. Driven by their expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and passion, its team of experienced investment managers and startup experts help guide the development of young companies. HTGF’s focus is on high-tech start-ups in the fields of digital tech, industrial technology, life sciences, chemistry and related business areas. To date, external investors have injected more than EUR 3 billion into the HTGF portfolio via more than 1,700 follow-on financing rounds. HTGF has also successfully sold interests in more than 130 companies.
Investors in this public-private partnership include the Federal Ministry For Economic Affairs and Energy, KfW Capital, and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft e.V., as well as the companies ALTANA, BASF, BAYER, B.Braun, Boehringer Ingelheim, Robert Bosch, BÜFA, CEWE, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Post DHL, Dräger, 1+1 AG, EVONIK, EWE AG, FOND OF, Haniel, Hettich, Knauf, Körber, LANXESS, media + more venture Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG, PHOENIX CONTACT, QIAGEN, RWE Generation SE, SAP, Schufa, Schwarz Gruppe, STIHL, Thüga, Vector Informatik, WACKER and Wilh. Werhahn KG. www.htgf.de/en
High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH
Stefanie Grüter, Head of Marketing & Communications
T.: +49 (0) 228 82300 188
Contact for investors
High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH
Martin Pfister, Principal
T.: +49 (0) 228 82300 123
Erfurt-based, beteiligungsmanagement thüringen (bm|t) is the first address for venture capital investments in Thüringen, Germany. bm|t currently manages ten investment funds with a total volume of 440M EUR. bm|t invests in innovative companies with strong growth potential across all sectors and all phases of the corporate lifecycle. www.bm‑t.com
Since its foundation in 1993, the STIFT has been selflessly supporting and promoting Thuringian actors and stakeholders in education, research, development, innovation and entrepreneurship along the entire educational and economic development chain. From childlike curiosity to brilliant research, from innovative business ideas to successful technology companies. The Thuringian Regional Innovation Program (TRIP), initiated by STIFT, started in 2019 as an accelerator program offering ambitious startups expertise, workshops, budget and networking with investors, companies and innovators with a strong focus on investment readiness. In individual cases STIFT itself acts as an early-stage and side investor for promising Thuringian startups.