“The biggest challenge was to find the right people”
In 2015, the Center for Entrepreneurship RWTH Aachen nominated Adhesys Medical – former Medical Adhesive Revolution – as their start-up with the biggest breakthrough potential for the Falling Walls Venture competition. It turned out that they made the right choice: their start-up fascinated the jury and the audience with their unique technology and became the Falling Walls Science Start-Up of the Year 2015.
We asked their founder and CEO Marius Rosenberg about his Falling Walls Venture experience and the challenges they faced as a newly founded company.
1. Can you shortly explain the business idea of Adhesys Medical?
Bleeding complications are a severe problem during surgery today and a major cause of reoperation, morbidity and death. To this day no tool exists that is capable of solving this problem. Adhesys Medical seeks to change the game by introducing a one-of-a-kind range of polyurethane-based surgical adhesives to stop bleeding and seal wounds during surgery. The technology is unique, as it combines ease of use, strength, flexibility and biodegradability. Two products are currently under development: The first has been designed for dermal use, to close a great variety of skin wounds faster, more accurately and with fewer complications. The second is designed for use inside the body: either as an adhesive, to seal areas of leakage or re-attach tissue, or as a hemostat, to stop (even arterial) bleeding. Unlike all other existing sealing technologies the product can be used instantaneously and works in a wet environment. Therefore, it is capable of saving lives in emergency situations and reducing medical costs for hospitals.
2. How did you start your business and how did you get your first investors?
The company was founded in Aachen, Germany, in 2013 by Dr. Heike Heckroth (inventor), Prof. Dr. René Tolba (surgeon), Prof. Dr. Malte Brettel (entrepreneur and financial advisor) and Marius Rosenberg (former strategy consultant and now CEO of Adhesys Medical) and is based on a technology which has been developed since 2007. In February 2014, a first 7-digit-seed-investment-round was closed with S-UBG, KfW and a group of private investors. In April 2014, the team won the Rice Business Plan Competition in Texas, Houston and $500,000 in investment prize money and expanded to the US thereafter.
3. What was the biggest challenge you faced when setting up your own company?
The biggest challenge was to find the right people. As a manufacturer of medical devices, we needed regulatory, chemical and preclinical experts. It took a while before we internally had all the knowledge to get started.
4. You won the Falling Walls Venture competition in 2015 and were awarded the title “Science Start-Up of the Year”. How did you convince the jury?
Our product solves an important medical need. Bleeding complications occur in up to 47% of cardiac and organ surgery and in cases of severe bleeding even 20% of patients die. Our product can truly make a difference in surgery and can help save many lives.
5. What has changed since your participation in Falling Walls Venture? What did you take home with you?
Falling Walls Venture offered us an amazing stage to present our technology to a highly sophisticated audience. Right after my speech, CEOs of major life science companies came up to me and gave me their business card. Many of these initial contacts have led to in-depth discussions and we are now in regular contact with the most important players in our industry.
6. Where does your company stand today?
We are now at the verge of commercialization of our first product, the Topical Skin Adhesive and have recently signed a distribution agreement with the pharma company Grünenthal for its commercialization in Europe and Latin America. For our internal product we are planning our clinical trial in 2017.
The company is growing. We have recently increased our team in the United States and are now hiring in Aachen, where we will soon move into a larger office.
7. Do you have any advice for the start-ups that would like to participate in the next edition of Falling Walls Venture?
Falling Walls Venture is a great opportunity to showcase your technology. The participants are all innovators in their respective field and they are looking for the next “big thing”, the next wall to fall. If you want to win, you need to inspire the audience, show them that your technology will be the next great step for the betterment of our life.