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Press releases, 2007-11-29

STEP Award 2007:
Small structures with a big impact - € 100,000 for Nanogate AG

This year's STEP Award 2007 has gone to Nanogate AG. Ralf Zastrau, Nanogate AG's CEO, and Michael Jung, its COO, accepted the € 100,000 STEP Award in a formal ceremony on the 50th floor of the Commerzbank Tower, while over 100 entrepreneurs, sponsors and partners of the competition looked on. The competition's initiators, Roland Mohr, Managing Director of Infraserv Höchst, and Volker Sach, Managing Director of F.A.Z.-Institut, presented the trophy to the proud winners.

Founded in 1999, Nanogate has 53 employees and has become one of the world's leading providers of nanotechnology. The Saarbrücken-based firm specializes in chemical nanotechnology, and develops, produces and markets system solutions that add new functionality to existing products. This innovative technology enhances surfaces using nanostructured materials in order to make the surfaces dirt-repelling, corrosion-resistant, scratch-proof or water-repellent, for example. Coatings can be applied to any materials, giving them entirely new, enhanced properties.

Few other nanotechnology firms have experienced such rapid growth as Nanogate. It began turning a profit in 2004 and since then has funded all of its growth from its operating cash flow. To further drive its expansion, the company is relocating to the old Göttelborn mining site next year, allowing it to shape the innovative potential and transformation of the former mine.
"We jury members were exceedingly impressed by Nanogate's broad industrial, material and functional portfolio," said Roland Mohr in his award speech. "Nanogate is a self-described enabler who gives customers a competitive edge by enhancing their products with nanotechnology. In our view, Nanogate is impressive on many levels, with a seasoned, interdisciplinary management team and a structured, broad-based strategy program that has permitted the company to evolve systematically along a growth plan. Following a research and development phase at start-up and the subsequent focus on products and markets, it is now time for an international industry roll-out. This will primarily involve expanding partnerships and alliances. Here, the STEP Award network partners can certainly offer valuable support," continued Mohr.

Nanogate AG will receive a total of € 50,000 in cash and a comprehensive consulting and service package worth the same amount. The services in the package will be provided by the STEP Award's sponsors and partners to help the prize-winner during its upcoming growth phase. They range from consulting, business development, finance and logistics right up to providing access to technical workshops, finding technology partners and giving legal and communications seminars. Since immediate access to space and infrastructure is a crucial factor for success for expanding companies, the prize-winner will also have the option of using laboratory and office facilities in Industriepark Höchst rent-free for two years.

"Spirit to expand"
The STEP Award competition was created to support up-and-coming firms who not only are close to a major breakthrough, but have also shown their commitment to the "spirit to expand" commemorated by the STEP Award. The contest was initiated by F.A.Z.-Institut Innovationsprojekte and Infraserv Höchst, an industrial-services provider and the operator of Industriepark Höchst. They have joined forces with many competition sponsors to give companies vital support during the growth phase so they can evolve successfully. The competition was open to German, Austrian, and Swiss companies involved in chemicals, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, biotech, nanotechnology, materials sciences and renewable energies – industries with enormous potential for growth and innovation.

Platinum Sponsors: Commerzbank, Mainova EnergieDienste and Sanofi-Aventis
The Platinum Sponsors for STEP Award 2007 are Commerzbank, Mainova EnergieDienste and Sanofi-Aventis. Numerous companies and institutions also participated as sponsors and network partners: Mayer Brown, Arthur D. Little, GENEART (who won the STEP Award in 2006), Hessen Agentur, Wirtschaftsförderung Frankfurt, Bilfinger Berger, GIT Verlag, Infraserv Logistics, INI-Novation, MSU Consulting, neeb & partner, Patentanwaltskanzlei Dr. Ackermann, Provadis, Siemens as well as van Rooijen&Partners.

Around 70 entrants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland
This year, over 70 companies from Germany, Austria and Switzerland sent in entries that met the competition's criteria: The companies must be at least one year old and actively represented in the market. The competitors had to present their business model, expansion mission and competitive situation as well as their patent situation and implementation plan. After receiving all the entries, the business and science experts on the jury identified the ten finalists who met the balanced scorecard criteria (management, market/customer, processes, product/technology and finance); they were given the opportunity to personally present their companies to the jury once again in early November. The winners of the grand prize and category prizes were then selected by the jury. The category prizes are each worth € 10,000: € 5,000 in cash, and € 5,000 in services.

The prize-winners in the categories:

Product/Technology: Austrianova Biomanufacturing AG, Vienna
Founded in 2001, Vienna-based Austrianova specializes in the research, development and commercialization of cell-based therapies and targeted viral gene transfer systems. Austrianova's bioencapsulation technology uses living cells as 'therapists' that produce medical agents right in the patient's body. The main areas of application are innovative cancer therapies.

Processes: immatics biotechnologies GmbH, Tübingen
Tübingen-based immatics is a biopharmaceutical start-up established in September 2000 that develops peptide-based immunotherapeutic agents for cancer patients.
Immatics impressed the jury with one of the fastest preclinical development processes in the pharmaceutical industry: For IMA901, its new product for treating renal cell cancer, the company took less than 24 months from the start of research to the first clinical study.

Finance: Intercell AG, Vienna
Intercell AG is a Viennese biotech firm specializing in the development of advanced vaccines for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. With its 200 employees from 16 different countries, this innovative, efficient and quality-focused company remains on the cutting edge of smart-vaccine development. Intercell will close out the financial year at a profit for the first time since its founding in 1998. As a Novartis partner, Intercell can rely on the kind of solid financial backing needed to fund the development of all its products to market maturity.

Market/Customer: Retina Implant AG, Reutlingen
Established in 2003, this medical equipment manufacturer is a global leader in the development of retina implants. Retina Implant has developed a microelectronic chip that, when inserted in the retina, restores part of the vision lost by blind patients suffering from certain forms of retinal degeneration.

Roland Mohr, Managing Director of Infraserv Höchst (back row, left) and Volker Sach, Managing Director of F.A.Z.-Institut (back row, 2nd fr. rt), together with Soccer World Champion Renate Lingor, handed out the STEP Awards to the winners. Back row, from left: Michael Jung and Ralf Zastrau (Nanogate AG), Thomas Fischer (Austrianova Biomanufacturing AG). Front row, from left: Reinhard Rubow and Walter G. Wrobel (Retina Implant AG), Astrid Meinl (Intercell AG), Niels Emmerich (Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH). Photo: Christel Finkbeiner © 2007 Infraserv GmbH & Co. Höchst KG

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For more information, please contact:
F.A.Z.-Institut GmbH, Innovationsprojekte
Thorsten Würschinger
Mainzer Landstrasse 199
60326 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: +49 69 - 75 91 21 94
Fax: +49 69 - 75 91 23 01

Your Contact:

Michael Müller
Infraserv Höchst
Phone: +49 69 305-7952
Fax: +49 69 305-80025