These are the winners of The Spark 2022

Winner of The Spark

Handelsblatt and McKinsey jointly award the German digital prize “The Spark” – here are the winners for 2022.

Berlin Donor organs are scarce, many patients wait years for them – or die while they are on the waiting list. If the start-up Cellbricks has its way, this situation could be a thing of the past in a few years: The team is developing a 3D printer for human tissue.

The team led by founder Lutz Kloke is currently working on producing breast implants from patient cells. In the future, a wide variety of types of human tissue are to be created, even entire organs such as the liver, kidneys or pancreas.

With this vision, Cellbricks won the German digital prize “The Spark” from Handelsblatt and McKinsey, which was awarded on Thursday evening in Berlin. The jury praised the economic scaling potential and called the procedure a “quantum leap in medicine”.

Lindera came in second with an app for mobility analysis, which is used, for example, to prevent falls in seniors. Third was Care Syntax with a platform that uses algorithms to alert doctors to risks during operations and help them make decisions. Hanna Asmussen, head of the personnel software provider Localyze, received the “Female Founder Award”.

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With The Spark, Handelsblatt and McKinsey honor start-ups from German-speaking countries whose business models have the potential to fundamentally change industries. This year, the motto “Medical Life Tech” was about the transformation of the health and medical industry.

Cellbricks manufactures implants from real tissue

The possibilities are diverse, as can be seen from the ten finalists who attended the award ceremony in the Tipi at the Chancellery in Berlin. These include the e-learning portal for midwives from Keleya, software for the automatic analysis of symptoms from Ada Health and a platform for digital discharge management in hospitals from Recare.

The winning start-up Cellbricks has specialized in the production of implants made from real tissue. The company uses patient-specific cells and reproduces them using 3D printing. This is how biological tissue and organs such as the liver, kidneys and pancreas are formed.

Briefly introduced: Cellbricks

The biologist and founder Kloke explains the relevance of the procedure using the example of breast cancer. Every eighth woman in Germany suffer from it during their lifetime, that’s 2.3 million a year. In addition to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, in many cases the tumor is surgically removed. In some cases, doctors remove the entire breast (mastectomy).

Silicone implants are often used to reconstruct them. This is risky, because the foreign bodies are sometimes encapsulated by the body and also have to be replaced in the course of life. Cellbricks wants the process to be so advanced in four years that biological breast implants can be implanted in the human body.

Listen to our podcast with brain surgeon Peter Vajkoczy here

The jury praised Cellbricks as the first company to use 3D printing technology on a large scale to manufacture implants. The procedure can be easily scaled up so that other organs can also be reconstructed in the future. The biological breast implant is still in the development phase. The founders want to have the process certified in 2024 and launch it on the US market by 2027 at the latest.

Lindera facilitates fall prevention in elderly care

The second-placed company, Lindera, wants to solve a major problem in geriatric care: when seniors are seriously injured when they fall, it is often the beginning of a downward spiral. Founder and boss Diana Heinrichs has set out to make prevention easier with digital technology.

Nursing staff can use the start-up’s app to record the seniors’ gait pattern with a smartphone camera. There is also a questionnaire that is intended to clarify limitations, for example in the eyesight and hearing. An algorithm then determines the individual risk of falling.

This assessment serves as the basis for personalized recommendations designed to prevent accidents and maintain mobility. The use of the technology in fields such as physiotherapy is already being considered.

Care Syntax develops “turning assistants” for surgeons

The third-placed start-up Care Syntax wants to make work in the operating room easier for surgeons – with a software platform on which all patient data flows together. The founders call this “turning assistant for surgeons”, with the prospect of an “autopilot”.

So far, the software has mainly helped to go through checklists and, for example, to ensure that all instruments have been removed from the wound. It also improves training because medical professionals can recap the work using the video recordings. As the database grows, the system should also be able to warn of critical situations.

Care Syntax has already proven that there is a market for it: Well-known clinics are already using the software commercially. A funding round of around $130 million last year, in which Blackrock was among the participants, ensures the funds for the further development of the platform.

Localyze boss Asmussen coaches founders

The Female Founder Award went to Hanna Asmussen, co-founder and head of Localyze. The platform aims to help international organizations automate administrative tasks: from applying for visas and residence permits to providing important information for a foreign assignment.

The idea is well received: The entrepreneur was able to collect more than 50 million euros in venture capital and was admitted to the renowned incubator Y Combinator in Silicon Valley. She passes on her experience as a mentor. Incidentally, also to male founders who want to know how to set up various organizations.

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