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Founding of M-fold Biotech GmbH in Tübingen
Biotech service provider – fresh start in the STERN BioRegion

(Stuttgart/Tübingen) – M-fold Biotech GmbH takes over from Tübingen-based m-phasys GmbH on 1 April. Around four months after filing for bankruptcy, the possibility of restructuring by transfer has made a fresh start possible. Using existing know-how as a basis, M-fold Biotech now offers services for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. M-FOLD technology, patented by m-phasys and used for producing membrane proteins, was the inspiration for the name. In the course of the reorganisation, the company is looking to create new job opportunities, with up to ten new jobs being planned in the medium term. The founders, shareholders and managing directors of the company are the former CEO of m-phasys GmbH, Dr. Hans Kiefer, and Eva Reska-Haischer, INSEAD MBA.

At the end of November last year, m-phasys GmbH, founded in 1999 using venture capital, had to file for bankruptcy. Despite intensive efforts, it was not possible to sell the company in the period specified by investors. “We couldn’t find a buyer as we completely restructured our business model just one and a half years ago,” explains Dr. Kiefer. “This meant the new products were still in too early a development stage.”

However, the prompt support from Tübingen and Reutlingen municipal authorities and BioRegio STERN Management GmbH was very encouraging, says Kiefer. “Together with a rapidly assembled taskforce, whose members included Technologieförderung Reutlingen-Tübingen, lawyers, auditors and BioRegio STERN, it was possible to stabilise the company until an investor was found,” says Dr. Klaus Eichenberg, Managing Director of BioRegio STERN Management GmbH.

Meeting business graduate Eva Reska-Haischer proved to be particularly fortunate for the start-up. The biotech sector is not only an extremely exciting domain for Reska-Haischer; she also brings wide-ranging experience in restructuring and rebuilding small and medium-sized companies from her work at Haischer & Partner. She recognized the potential in M-FOLD technology: “The number of interested customers clearly showed that the prerequisites for a service business were in place,” says Reska-Haischer, who has already analysed and assisted numerous companies.

Although the insolvency administrators had already made all the employees redundant, Kiefer and Reska-Haischer developed a viable, new corporate concept. “This focuses on services and fulfilment of existing business collaborations,” says Reska-Haischer, who as chairwoman of an established SME association is also politically committed to solid corporate structures. This restructuring also meets with the approval of Peter Wilke, CEO of Technologieförderung Reutlingen-Tübingen GmbH: “Not only does M-fold Biotech retain its location, it also remains our tenant.”

The funds for the relaunch stem from a collaborative project with the university in San Diego, California. The plan, funded with a total of five million U.S. dollars by the U.S National Institute of Health agency, NIH, is aimed at decoding the three-dimensional structure of human receptor proteins using spectroscopic methods.

M-fold Biotech GmbH offers its services in all areas where purified proteins are needed, particularly those from the human cell membrane. Its portfolio ranges from development of antibodies for diagnostic and therapeutic applications to in-vitro test systems for pharmaceutical research and projects for determining protein structures. The biggest customer for M-fold Biotech services is the pharmaceuticals industry, which orders protein structural analyses to develop drugs – for example for pain treatment, cardiovascular therapies and applications to treat mental illnesses.

Dr. Kiefer is looking to use the relaunch to offer new employment contracts to former m-phasys employees. However, nearly half of the old workforce have already found jobs at other biotech companies, most of them in Tübingen. “The STERN BioRegion now has a considerable pool of posts for qualified s

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