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Successful materials development through suitable enablers

Revolutionary products are often based on equally revolutionary material innovations. According to forecasts by the EU Commission, the market value of such materials will increase to around 230 billion US dollars by 2030 - with correspondingly multiple value creation potentials. For this to happen, however, it is not enough for materials start-ups to be particularly innovative. The importance of materials as a cost factor is also constantly increasing for customer companies. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the enablers - i.e. the success factors surrounding the product - is indispensable. As a technology group, Heraus has extensive experience in identifying and successfully implementing precisely these enablers for start-ups.

Two women with safety glasses analyzing blue liquid

Typical production-related enablers that Heraeus optimises as a partner, accelerator or investor of materials start-ups are, for example, the appropriate processing technologies, equipment and process parameters. Particularly with regard to the cost issue and their own competitiveness, customer companies want to be able to improve their raw material and material efficiency and use high-performance substitute materials and recycling processes. In the same way, the start-ups must also be able to score in non-production success factors such as customer centricity, early customer dialogue or an understanding of the customer's value chains and decision-making processes. In both enabler groups, materials start-ups benefit from the technology group's experience in some of the world's most demanding markets such as medicine, electronics, semiconductors, the automotive industry or aerospace technology when working with Heraeus.

Added to this is Heraeus' many years of experience in dealing with materials start-ups themselves. Since 2015, the company has developed seven such start-ups in a corporate incubator, participated in others and also launched one of the few materials accelerators in the world.

Success factors of materials start-ups with Heraeus

  • Clear focus:
    Clearly defined focus with regard to company concept, application, market segment and USP by creating a comprehensive business plan.
  • Secured financing: 
    Participation in financing until the first customer contracts materialise.
  • Increased confidence:
    Assurance for client companies that the start-up will remain liquid during the qualification or scaling phase.
  • Market & value chain know-how:
    Very good knowledge of value chain, market participants and customer requirements.
  • Optimised distribution:
    Faster and easier access to large potential customers through existing sales channels.
  • Precise customer dialogue:
    Constant intensive dialogue with the customer/market ensures that the customer accepts necessary additional costs for the introduction of the new materials into his production process.
  • Right choice of partners:
    Support in the selection of suitable partners such as machine producers, research institutes or multipliers through connection to Heraeus or recourse to the Group's own contacts.
  • Processing knowledge:
    Identifying all production factors such as machines or machining processes that can influence the use of the new material.
  • Upscaling expertise:
    Helping to present reliable mass-production-ready solutions to the client company.

"Since materials are always a means to an end, it is essential for the success of a material and process start-up to seek contact with potential customers as early as possible and as intensively as possible," says Ilka Luck, Head of Heraeus Aerosol Deposition. "This is the only way to really anticipate customer needs and take new requirements into account immediately."

Portrait of Ilka Luck with watercolours in the background

"The right partnerships are also important," adds Jürgen Wachter, head of the Heraeus corporate start-up AMLOY. "As a corporate start-up, we have the support of the Heraeus Group behind us - nevertheless, strategic cooperation with machine manufacturers, research institutes and multipliers are extremely important - external start-ups should take these considerations into account early on."

Portrait of Hans Wachter with watercolours in the background

"Many material start-ups are created in the university sector," says Franz Vollmann, head of the corporate start-up Heraeus Printed Electronics. "Founders from this environment often focus strongly on the technical solution. However, to successfully launch a start-up, a focused business case is needed early on. This is the only way founders can achieve profitability for their ideas."

Portrait of Franz Vollmann with watercolours in the background