High-quality elastin for different market segments: Fraunhofer IMWS spin-off takes off as "matrihealth" GmbH

Producing high-purity elastin in medical quality is the founding idea of "matrihealth" GmbH. The spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS, known as a founding project under the name of "matriheal" since 2020, now becomes an independent company based in Halle (Saale). The four founders, Dr. Marco Götze, Tobias Hedtke, PD Dr. Christian Schmelzer and Dirk Schuster, want to produce elastin quickly, cost-efficiently and in a scalable manner. They can thus offer market-specific elastin solutions for medical products, food, cosmetics and for research purposes, among others.

© Fraunhofer IMWS
The "matrihealth" founding team: Dr Marco Götze, Tobias Hedtke, Dirk Schuster and PD Dr. Christian Schmelzer (from left to right).
© Fraunhofer IMWS / Michael Deutsch
The main product of "matrihealth” is soluble elastin, the properties of which can be adapted to the intended use.

The "matrihealth" founding team conducted research on the structure and properties of elastin at the Fraunhofer IMWS for more than six years. The result of their research is a method for extracting natural elastin and converting it into a water-soluble derivative that can be used in a variety of ways. This innovative technology now forms the basis for the spin-off. "We are very pleased that after six years of research we have achieved our goal to complete the spin-off. In the growing market of elastin-based medical and cosmetic products, we see excellent opportunities to establish ourselves with our innovative and sustainable products, says Tobias Hedtke, founding member of "matrihealth".

Elastin is an important structural protein that, together with collagen, ensures the resilience and elasticity of the skin, blood vessels and other organs and tissues. Unlike collagen, elastin it is not renewed by the body, which can lead to problems in wound healing and causes wrinkles in old age. One idea is therefore to compensate for the loss of elastin in the skin with elastin-containing products.

In contrast to previous production methods, the technology used by "matrihealth" to isolate and purify elastin is cheaper, allows scaling up to industrial standards and offers the possibility of obtaining elastin in different qualities and modifications for various applications. The highly pure and water-soluble elastin can then be used as a raw material for further processing into products for different markets. Prof. Erica Lilleodden, Director of the Fraunhofer IMWS, explains: "To develop a technology at the institute that leads to a spin-off is a great transfer achievement and shows that we live applied research".

Currently, the team aims to produce and market elastin primarily for the medical, food, and cosmetics sectors. Later, the company will also develop its own semi-finished products and products for wound care. In this area, "matrihealth" already has extensive experience due to its many years of research work at the Fraunhofer IMWS. In recent years they have been awarded the IQ Innovation Prize of the City of Halle (Saale) and the Hugo Junkers Prize.

On the way to the spin-off, "matrihealth" was supported by the "Attract" program of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the "Weinberg Campus Accelerator" program of the Technologie- und Gründerzentrum Halle GmbH (TGZ Halle). At present, the founders are looking for investors, to set up their first production facility.