August, 2 2021 Successful exit for bm|t – Evonik acquires biotech company JeNaCell

  • 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.


Media Con­tact

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


About bm|t

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.‑



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.