MAX!imize your research ideas

Two Max Planck research teams receive funding for future spin-offs “Allergator” and “Vulcan.”

© Max-Planck-Innovation GmbH. left: Team Vulcan, right: Team Allergator

Two research teams at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) have been successful at securing funding from the start-up incubator program of the Max Planck Society, called MAX!mize. The two-phase program supports scientists planning to become entrepreneurs. It offers access to dedicated funds, an experienced start-up coach, and regular workshops to guide scientists along their entrepreneurial journey. The project “Allergator” secured phase one funding equivalent to 50,000 euros for the next six months, while the project “Vulcan” has received phase two funding of 220,000 euros for 18 months.

The project Allergator aims to enable sustainable cat-keeping for families with cat-allergic members. In the next six months, the team of postdoctoral researchers Hendrik Sikkema and Benedikt Kuhn, along with technology development research group leader Eric Geertsma, will validate a relevant market need, define the technology and product roadmap, and build a strong team. Benedikt Kuhn explains: “For the most prominent cat allergen, Fel d 1, we have developed tiny binding proteins that neutralize the allergen and prevent it from triggering an immune response.”

With "Vulcan," postdoctoral researcher Juan Iglesias-Artola and former postdoctoral researcher Anatol Fritsch aim at commercializing temperature-controlled microscope stages accompanied by software that allows users to perform complex temperature experiments. Juan Iglesias-Artola explains, “Anatol and I have identified that light microscopy studies often require an accurate control of temperature. Most devices available, unfortunately, only allow for heating, change temperature slowly, and are not interchangeable between microscopes. They also do not offer a user interface that allows for exporting the temperature data over the course of the experiment. With our start-up, we aim at solving these issues.” Anyone who is interested in being part of the demo community can get in contact with the research team via email.

Juan Iglesias-Artola is featured in this video from MAX!mize “Why is Customer Discovery Vital for Founders from Science?”