The Health + IT Campus in Magdeburg is gradually filling up. It is now just over a year since it opened and eight companies are already based at the site on the Ölweide, including two firms from outside Germany. By offering the best possible conditions for start-ups and growing young companies in the innovative medical technology industry, managing director Mathias Schulz and his team have been able to compete successfully with sites in Japan and South Korea. “And this is just the beginning...” according to Schulz.
MedTech Accelerator acts as a launchpad
The next MedTech Accelerator turn starts in March 2022. It gives interested teams the opportunity to apply with project ideas in the fields of medical technology, IT and engineering and to pitch them to a jury of potential backers who choose the projects that will be accepted into the program. The applicants can include people looking to launch their own businesses, plus existing start-ups and young companies. The goal of the program is to help forward-looking, sometimes crazy product ideas and business models to become commercially viable by means of interdisciplinary and intercultural cooperation. The projects are assigned their own development period, which means that there is no time limit on the MedTech Accelerator program. Approximately once a year, the companies present their results to their backers and to the public during a pitch day. “By taking this very practical and pragmatic approach, we aim to give young companies a real boost toward their market launch,” says Schulz. “Imposing a time limit would be counterproductive.”
The accelerator is a win-win situation for everyone involved. People with innovative ideas are given technical, practical and financial support to turn them into marketable products. The companies taking part have the opportunity to enter into sales partnerships, contribute their own products and services to the start-ups or acquire a long-term shareholding in the new businesses. “The projects and the backers are matched with one another in advance to make sure that this is successful,” explains Schulz. “The projects will only have a future if the two profiles fit together.”
Secure area for technological progress
The two USPs of the Health + IT Campus are discretion and a national network. Particularly in the early phases of their development, the companies value the secure area that Schulz and his team can offer. Laboratories, offices and a medical technology workshop are available where they can work in peace and quiet out of the public eye to bring their products to market readiness. Too much attention or media hype can be counterproductive in these circumstances. This is why Schulz is unwilling to disclose information about the firms based at the campus, which work in areas including engineering, energy and environmental technology, social media tools and sensor systems. They are also not referred to by name on the website.
As a committed networker, Mathias Schulz is also managing director of innoMed e.V., a network for medical technology in Saxony-Anhalt. He brings together companies, researchers, investors and start-ups from all over the world with the aim of making advances in medical technology in Saxony-Anhalt and beyond. Over the next year, Schulz would like to start an exchange with teams from Israel so that he can introduce them to the advantages of Saxony-Anhalt as a location. At the same time, he aims to present his organization as a partner that can make access to German markets easier and manage regulatory issues. The response from potential investors shows that the joint plan developed by Schulz and Matthias Weber, managing director of HASOMED GmbH in Magdeburg, to develop an innovation center for the health technology of the future and to promote digitalization in the healthcare sector has been well received.
Developing and presenting medical technology solutions
A lot is happening at the campus site. Another building is currently being converted into the CampusCommunityCenter (CCC), which will be equipped with 3D printers for prototyping, among other things. As the parent company, HASOMED also makes its own workshops available to the companies on the campus, which have the opportunity to use CNC milling centers, metal folding machines and other equipment by prior arrangement. Alongside the active role played by the Health + IT Campus and the support from HASOMED, productive relationships are developing between the companies on the campus. Established businesses and start-ups are supporting one another, sharing experiences and exploiting synergies in tools and materials. “This positive exchange of ideas and mutual help and support is exactly what makes our campus different,” says Schulz. “We want to achieve something together.”
In addition, larger companies can use the premises of the Health + IT Campus for product presentations and technical meetings. For example, a company from Bavaria came here to present its latest high-performance cameras for medical research and diagnostics equipment to a variety of research teams. By organizing individual meetings, it is possible for companies to make initial business contacts on a confidential basis.
With this wide variety of ideas and opportunities for cooperation, the Health + IT Campus will become an important interface and a driving force behind innovations in medical technology and digital healthcare.
Author: Miriam Fuchs/IMG Saxony-Anhalt