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“It’s wonderful to be able to help people with your research”

Successes for Spinoffs from Freie Universität / Millions Raised from Investors

Jan 14, 2015

Das Barzahlen-Team: Florian Swoboda, Achim Bönsch, Sebastian Seifert (von links nach rechts)
The Barzahlen team: Florian Swoboda, Achim Bönsch, Sebastian Seifert (left to right). Image Credit: Max Threlfall / profund
Die  Erfinder der Software "shyftplan": John Nitschke, Jan-Martin Josten (rechts)
The inventors of the software "shyftplan": John Nitschke, Jan-Martin Josten (at right). Image Credit: shyftplan
Das Team von "Humedics": Prof. Dr. Karsten Heyne, Dr. Christian Frischkorn, Alexander Helmke (von links nach rechts)
The team of "Humedics": Prof. Dr. Karsten Heyne, Christian Frischkorn, Alexander Helmke (left to right). Image Credit: Humedics GmbH

They got their start not in the legendary garage, but rather at an incubator on the university campus – and they are extremely successful: Last fall alone, three spinoffs from Freie Universität received large injections of funding from investors to expand their businesses, which are already doing well. They received support from profund, the startup support organization of Freie Universität Berlin, as they took their first steps toward reaching the market.

Business manager John Nitschke and bioinformatics specialist Jan-Martin Josten were able to build their startup at Freie Universität with a one-year EXIST Business Start-Up Grant based on funding provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Their academic mentor was Professor Robert Tolksdorf, of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. In an incubator space on the “IT floor” of the Lankwitz earth sciences campus, they developed a platform that companies can use to create staff and shift schedules and payroll statements. Their software program, Shyftplan, is now being used by nursing services, restaurants, trade fair agencies, retailers, and other service providers to organize their personnel. The team, which has grown to ten members, has now received 1.45 million euros in capital from Kizoo Technology Ventures and Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) to expand further.

An Expert Threat Analysis

Florian Swoboda, Achim Bönsch, and Sebastian Seifert founded financial services provider Barzahlen in 2011. In November 2014, they brought in several million euros in funding from Berlin Technologie Holding and investment firm Alstin. Barzahlen serves customers who enjoy shopping online, but are worried about abuse of their data, so they prefer to pay offline. These customers can now place their orders with more than 7,500 Internet retailers, print out a payment slip, and then pay the bill in cash at one of the approximately 3,400 retail partner outlets. The team was supported by computer science professor Volker Roth of Freie Universität, who helped them with the threat analysis stage and identified points in the software architecture where better safeguards were needed. Barzahlen now has 30 employees and plans to offer its product in other countries beyond Germany soon.

Helping People through Research

Humedics GmbH, a joint spinoff of Freie Universität and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, concluded its third round of financing in November. Vesalius Biocapital Partners, Seventure Partners, and other venture capitalists invested about seven million euros in the medical technology company, which is launching a method of direct, mobile measurement of individual liver function at the patient’s bedside on the market. This innovation makes it easier to plan surgeries and treatments for people with liver disease, thereby adding certainty to the decision-making process, and just recently was awarded the Berlin Brandenburg Innovation Award. One of the co-founders of Humedics and co-inventor of the new method is Karsten Heyne, a professor at the Department of Physics at Freie Universität. He is already at work on new inventions. He said, “It’s simply wonderful to see that you can help people with your research. As a physicist, that wasn’t a given for me. I’d like to repeat the experience.”

Further Information

Marion Kuka, profund, Tel.: +49 30 838-736 56, Email: