Evonik invests in a medical technology start-up in Düsseldorf and Helsinki


German specialty chemicals company, Evonik Industries, has invested in the start-up company Synoste Oy, a spin-off of the Aalto University in Espoo (Finland), via its venture capital arm and now holds a minority share in the medical technology company based in Düsseldorf (Germany) and Helsinki (Finland). The start-up is expected to launch the implant on the market in 2017 with the name Nitinail

The investment was made as part of a series A round, together with High-Tech Gründerfonds, two Finnish venture capital funds Finnvera and Lifeline Ventures as well as Finnish business angels. The overall volume of the financing round lies in the single-digit million euro range.

Evonik intends to invest a total of EUR100 million in highly promising start-ups with innovative technologies and in leading, specialised venture capital funds. Theregional focus areas are Europe, the USA, and Asia. Evonik currently has investments in eight start-ups and four funds.

Synoste, together with Orton, a hospital specialised in orthopaedics and located in Helsinki, have developed a high-tech implant for a minimally invasive treatment of leg length discrepancy, which can lead to chronic back pain and osteoarthritis in the long term. The bone of the shorter leg is lengthened in a gentle way over the period of several months. For the patient, the implant represents easier treatment with less pain and lower risk compared to established methods.

Synoste’s implant technology does not just offer potential in leg-lengthening, but also for deformities in arms, fingers and toes as well as spine and craniomaxillofacial surgery. The implant is similar to an intramedullary nail and is fixed to the bone after the bone has been cut. During the treatment period, which lasts for several months, it is extended in small increments of 0.5 mm, like a telescope, by electromagnetic means. This causes fresh bone substance to steadily form between the two halves of the bone. Using thismethod, it is possible to increase the length of the bone by several centimetres.

An advantage of the Synoste implant is its high mechanical stability, and thus allows patients to bear full weight on their leg at an early stage in the treatment process. Furthermore, it significantly reduces the risk of infection compared to a fixator, and requires shorter hospitalisation.

Evonik’s high performance polymer, VESTAKEEP PEEK, will also be used in the implant.

Meanwhile Synoste intends to develop its Düsseldorf site into the European sales centre due to its good infrastructure and location.


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