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Words from a Member: Molecular Plasma Group

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MPG recently joined the Silicon Luxembourg Business Club. Get to know the startup based at Technoport.
(Featured Image: Marc Jacobs, Chairman at MPG / Image Credit © MPG)
What is your startup about?

Molecular Plasma Group is the result of the combination of two spin-offs from two public research institutes: the LIST, and VITO (Belgium). Over the last 15 years, VITO has developed a revolutionary atmospheric plasma technology, which enables one-step grafting of a wide range of precursor molecules to any surface. This allows us to permanently change the chemical characteristics of any surface, so creating a wide range of surface functionalities for various industries. Our mission is to scale up the technology and develop industrial solutions for various markets.

Below are a few examples to make it more tangible.

  • Teflon is widely used for its fantastic non-stick properties. Imagine that you would like to print or stick something onto a piece of Teflon, due to its characteristics, this is pretty much impossible. Our technology makes it easily possible.

  • Today, the manufacturing process for In Vitro Diagnostic tests like blood and urine tests, is based on immobilizing antibodies on a substrate. This is a complex, wet-chemical, multi-step, time-consuming process, which can take up to 72 hours. We have initial proof that, with our technology, we can immobilize antibodies in a single step, without wet chemistry, and all that, in less than 30 seconds. As our process is so much simpler, it has the potential to enable the de-centralization and cheaper manufacturing of diagnostic tests, thus improving public health screening in developing countries.

“We serve a multitude of high-tech B2B industries ranging from aeronautics to automotive and from microelectronics to health care.”

How did you come up with the idea?

I am active as a mentor and angel investor in the start-up scene and, influenced by my background, my focus is on industrial start-ups that are scalable and have a positive impact on society.

In 2016, Luxinnovation introduced me to a spin-off from the LIST that had developed an application using VITO technology and were seeking to bring it to the market. This interested me as it fit my criteria and so we stayed in contact. Quite soon after, I discovered that VITO was working on a spin-off project of the technology and I realized that the combination could be powerful. At the end of 2016, two other investors, an ex-colleague and I put it all together and so Molecular Plasma Group was born.

What are your products/services?

Our technology is very advanced, to the point where, when customers realize what we can do, they often refer to it as ‘magical’. In order to make it easy for them to ’get a taste’ of the technology, our entry-level product is a discovery day. We use this to work together with the customer on a pain point they have and see if we can help to solve it. If the results are positive, we move forward in a clearly defined stage-gate process with the ultimate aim of providing the customer with a tailor-made industrial solution including production equipment and services.

We also have specially designed R&D systems that we sell to universities and RTO’s to research and develop applications of our technology, in the knowledge that we are there to help scale-up the applications and solutions that they develop. Currently, such systems are in place at PICC in Switzerland and at the LIST. We also have a project in the pipeline with a renowned university in France.

“Following the proof-of-concept for immobilizing antibodies, we have been selected as one of the 5 participants in first edition of the Fit4Start Health Tech program.”

What is your business model?

We are an equipment and technology provider and offer solutions that are adapted to each market. This ranges from a simple sale of equipment with maintenance contracts to a full-fledged integrated service model whereby we charge for the use of the asset rather than for the asset itself. A well-known example of such model is Rolls Royce who does not sell airplane engines but rather charges the user/owner for the miles flown.

Who are your clients?

We serve a multitude of high-tech B2B industries ranging from aeronautics to automotive and from microelectronics to health care.

What are the next steps in your development?

We are currently building a first pilot line for a major global customer and expect to take the next step towards full-scale industrialization in 2019. Several other projects are on a similar track as well.

Following the proof-of-concept for immobilizing antibodies, we have been selected as one of the 5 participants in first edition of the Fit4Start Health Tech program. This will allow us to develop a roadmap for entry into the healthcare market where our technology has the potential to be truly transformative.

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