Image: The founding team of NUMAFERM – Philipp Bürling (l.) and Christian Schwarz (r.)

The production of peptides, which are usually produced through chemical synthesis, is expensive. The reasons for this are the high quantities of raw materials needed, the complex process steps, and the usually low yields. Numaferm has now developed a technology platform, which enables plannable biotechnological production of peptides at higher yields and at lower costs.

Evonik joins several other investors in taking on a minority stake of the startup, as part of a round of seed funding and also includes investments from High-Tech Gründerfonds, co-founders of Business Angels and Qiagen, Detlev Riesner and Jürgen Schumacher, as well as the European Investment Fund.

“Peptides and their applications are highly interesting for our growth engines Health & Care and Specialty Additives. In addition, Evonik has great competency in biotechnology. That makes Numaferm an outstanding strategic match for us,” says Bernhard Mohr, head of Venture Capital at Evonik.

Evonik plans to invest a total of €100 million in promising start-ups with innovative technologies and in leading specialized venture capital funds as part of its venture capital activities. Regional focuses are Europe, the United States and Asia. Currently, Evonik holds stakes in eleven start-ups and eight funds.

Currently, peptides are used above all as pharmaceutical or cosmetic active ingredients. In addition to their role as active pharmaceutical ingredients, peptides and proteins in general are a commercially interesting class of molecules, which are used in a variety of medical, cosmetic, and nutritional-physiological applications. The corresponding markets are the focus of the Health & Care growth engine at Evonik. Of particular interest are applications such as ingredients for cell culture media and for nutritional supplements or medical nutrients. Evonik is advancing the industrial use of peptides through its Specialty Additives growth engine.

Initially, Numaferm plans to use the fresh capital to drive forward technological development and get the first products to market maturity. “In Evonik we have found a strategic investor with extensive experience in developing innovative technologies and in tapping new markets,” says Christian Schwarz, co-founder and managing director of Numaferm.

Schwarz laid the scientific foundations for the technology of Numaferm in his doctoral thesis at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. The company was founded at the start of 2017 as a spin-off of the Institute of Biochemistry. Previously, the project was supported by an EXIST research transfer of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, among others.