Germany needs a community

Since 2018, CrystalsFirst from the Hub Ludwigshafen/Mannheim offers protein crystal-based applications in drug discovery. That means, Crystals First helps developing prototypes for drugs by stabilizing protein crystals.

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„A drug is a molecule which has a therapeutic effect on your bodily functions, for example by blocking certain processes“, explains Dr. Serghei Glinca. He is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder ofCrystalsFirst.Successful development drug candidates, generation of prototypes in the early stage of drug discovery is essential. Using structural biology, x-rays and computer-based models, researchers analyse how the prototype of a drug and the target molecule interact with each other. In the pharmaceutical research, this step is especially challenging: „While bringing together the drug prototype with the target molecules, crystals’ quality is affected or even get destructed during the experiments”, explains Serghei.

This is where CrystalsFirst’s technology steps in: By stabilizing protein crystals, the process throughput for the experiments is higher and you can monitor more efficient how the drug prototype interacts with the target molecule.

Founding and growing CrystalsFirst, Serghei had insights in the German startup ecosystem. As a head of the worldwide first startup ecosystem accelerator program he has experience with diverse set of European startup ecosystems: “Benchmarking is only possible, when you know what others do, what are the strengths and weaknesses.” In his opinion, by and large an informal network in Germany is missing. Startups and companies should exchange their experiences in developing their products and building their business. Seeing the startup ecosystem as an evolving organism with special and rapidly changing needs would help German startups, especially by giving them fast and efficient feedback for their ideas and plans. „We should have more courage. We should talk about our mistakes without glorifying or stigmatizing failure and how we still carried on“, pleads Serghei.

Besides building an informal community, investments in Germany should increase into Life science and Biotech technologies. „In these fields, Germany is world leader in research. But there is not enough money to bring the technologies to the market at scale. Life Science and Biotech are capital intensive areas and a long-term commitment. You need a lot of patience and trust in people.“ In the end, Serghei Glinca concludes: „You shouldn’t see the startup ecosystem as an input-output-system, but as an organism, which could be addressed by initiatives. I see a vast potential for life science startups in Germany, who want to bring their passion and know-how into world-changing companies.“