Evonik invests in biotech startup with focus on peptides

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Evonik invests in biotech startup with focus on peptides
Evonik, one of the leading players in specialty chemicals, has announced it has made an investment into Numaferm, a biotech startup specialising in making the production of peptides more efficient.

Peptides production is expensive, but Numaferm, a spin-off enterprise from Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, has developed a new technology platform to allow for the production of peptides at higher yields and at lower costs.

Evonik joins various other investors in taking on a minority stake of the startup in a seed financing round: other players investing include High-Tech Gründerfonds, Qiagen co-founders Detlev Riesner and Jürgen Schumacher, as well as the European Investment Fund.

This is just the one of many investments planned by Evonik into promising start-ups with innovative technologies.

The company says it plans to invest a total of €100 million 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.

"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.

Peptides: why the buzz?

Peptides are something of a hot topic in beauty, due to their capacity to reinforce those proteins - such as collagen, keratin and elastin - that naturally occur in the skin.

They have a rejuvenating effect, and so are especially prized in anti-ageing formulations, as Vogue notes in a recent article.

However, the barrier to more widespread peptide use has been the high price attached to them, due to the costs involved in production.

“The reasons for this are the high quantities of raw materials needed, the complex process steps, and the usually low yields​,” Evonik notes, suggesting that Numaferm’s new production technology could be a gamechanger.

“The technology can be used for almost all peptides, and production on an industrial scale become possible. As a result, new technical applications for peptides also become realistic for the first time.”

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