Bio-inspired coatings as germ destroyers

LipoCoat is one of three startups participating in this year's Heraeus Accelerator Program. The startup has set its sights on infection control through germ-repellent coatings - and has taken inspiration from nature. In an interview, founder Jasper van Weerd explains how Heraeus is helping his startup to grow further.

Heraeus has been launching its annual Accelerator program for startups since 2019. The Accelerator offers startups the opportunity to further develop and market their ideas and products together with experts from Heraeus. This year, the focus is on the areas of medical technology and sensors. A total of three startups were able to convince the Heraeus jury - one of them is the Dutch startup LipoCoat. The company is a nano- and biotech spin-off of the University of Twente and develops bio-inspired, toxin-free coatings for medical devices.

Germ-free coatings reduce infection risks and increase comfort

Poor surface properties of medical devices can lead to germs, bacteria and contaminants adhering easily - with sometimes life-threatening consequences for patients. LipoCoat's coatings prevent this, as the company specializes in infection control solutions. The startup took inspiration from nature: the newly developed coating imitates the phospholipid bilayer that surrounds every cell in the human body. This makes the product absolutely biocompatible. It also improves the comfort and performance of devices such as contact lenses, catheters and research instruments.

Heraeus' Accelerator Program gives the startup the chance to further develop its products. Founder Jasper van Weerd explains in an interview what they hope to achieve by participating and how the collaboration is going.

Why are you participating in the Accelerator program?

At LipoCoat, we have developed a bio-inspired coating technology for several applications. By participating in the Heraeus Accelerator program, we can benefit from the knowledge and experience of business partners when working on new applications.

Where do you still see crucial technology or knowledge gaps in medicine?

The use of innovations for prevention should be given a higher priority. We advocate value-based healthcare, with a focus on treatment outcomes.

How did the virtual collaboration in the Heraeus Accelerator proceed under the special conditions of the pandemic?

We had a very good experience there. Despite some restrictions due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the cooperation went well. Weekly video calls with the Heraeus team were an efficient and valuable support.

How has the Heraeus Accelerator helped you to further develop your product?

Together with Heraeus Medical Components, we are evaluating our technology for cardiovascular applications. At the end of the Accelerator program, we want to present a minimally viable product - that is, a product that can be made available to initial customers for feedback purposes. Heraeus is contributing its know-how and experience in prototype testing and problem solving.

How did you personally experience the program, from which offer did you benefit the most?

We are very grateful for the opportunity to work with Heraeus on a catheter project. Heraeus invests a lot of time and effort to provide us with practical advice on research and development, business development and investor relations. Being able to ask questions of some of the most experienced professionals is extremely helpful to our growth. We would definitely recommend the Accelerator program.