Molecular Plasma Group (MPG) has developed cutting-edge technology for surface treatment used in innovative applications for the automotive and aerospace sectors. Building on its swift response times, the company decided at the height of the healthcare crisis to make this technology compatible with the industrial production of surgical masks.
MPG is a spin-off of two research institutes, LIST (Luxembourg) and VITO (Belgium), and is hosted by the Luxembourg business incubator, Technoport. Since 2016 it has been developing its MolecularGRIPTM technology, which ensures perfect adhesion on inert surfaces such as Teflon, carbon fibre, and even sensitive substrates such as natural fibres and cellulose. “We are able to create a wide range of advanced surface functionalities and develop applications for challenging areas such as the automotive and aerospace sectors,” explains CEO Marc Jacobs, a passionate entrepreneur whose goal was to contribute to the economic fabric of Luxembourg.
Important breakthrough during the COVID-19 pandemic
Having developed this technology for industrial applications, MPG started to focus on the healthcare segment in 2018. “We came into contact with IMEC (the R&D hub of the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre in Belgium), which asked if we were able to graft antibodies onto their electronics. We ran a product development project with the University of Leuwen and it worked,” continues Marc Jacobs. Based on this research, the team joined the first round of Luxembourg’s Fit4Start HealthTech programme at the end of 2018/beginning of 2019, acquiring more experience and expertise in the field.
In the midst of the 2020 healthcare crisis, MPG took on a new challenge for Luxembourg hospitals and companies, developing plasma-based technology to optimise the protection offered by respirator masks made in Luxembourg, thus creating virucidal surfaces. “This is a first. We ran a product development project with LIST, which produced incredible results and demonstrated the feasibility of the project,” adds MPG’s CEO. Today the company is confident that it can offer a commercial solution. Several Belgian and Luxembourg companies have already ordered machines equipped with this technology. These sales will boost turnover. “The investments and risks that were taken are paying off. Today, we have industrial solutions to offer to a broad range of industries, and can treat any type of substrate.”
“I have always had a good relationship with BIL, so they were the obvious port of call,” – Marc Jacobs, CEO of Molecular Plasma Group
Product development driven by financial support
MPG was able to count on the support of Banque Internationale à Luxembourg (BIL) to successfully diversify and grow its business. BIL had already worked with Marc Jacobs and his previous company, and took a chance on following him in his new entrepreneurial venture. “I have always had a good relationship with BIL, so they were the obvious port of call. Shareholders had EUR 250,000 of start-up capital, and BIL granted us a range of financing options amounting to a little over EUR 1 million. A package that increased and was restructured gradually, enabling us to launch the business,” adds the CEO.
BIL offered MPG its support from the very start, convinced by the idea and product, and the expertise and enthusiasm of the project initiators. The innovative company initially had access to two InnovFin financing tools (a loan and an overdraft facility) offering a bank guarantee covering 50% of investments. When this expired, new financing was granted with the support of Luxembourg’s Office du Ducroire in order to support international expansion, followed in 2020 by a loan guaranteed by the Luxembourg government against the backdrop of the challenging healthcare environment. Various financing tools and institutions have therefore been instrumental in enabling the company to grow and expand its product range to its current level in an environment of trust, constructive dialogue and transparency.
4: The number of machines equipped with MPG technology ordered by Luxembourg and Belgian companies for delivery by the end of March 2020
“As the bank of entrepreneurs, BIL is able to support innovative companies and start-ups like Molecular Plasma Group thanks to its participation in the InnovFin programme. We were convinced by the idea developed by the company, its expertise and its project initiators, and were keen to provide support using the InnovFin tool. We have been able to assist with the company’s development over the last four years thanks to the various forms of financing that have been set up. This a success story for us.” – Philippe Weisen, Head of Start-ups at BIL
This article is brought to you by Banque Internationale à Luxembourg (BIL) and was first published in Silicon Luxembourg magazine. Read our full Digital Entrepreneurship edition.