News & Views
Tiny particles bring success of Berlin-Brandenburg Innovation Award
Dec 08 2021
Laboratory instruments manufacturer Knauer Wissenschaftliche Geräte GmbH has received the prestigious Innovation Prize of the Berlin Brandenburg region for development of new equipment used for producing lipid nanoparticles (LNPs).
Designed in partnership with a well-known pharmaceutical company, the new systems, developed and manufactured in Berlin, have played a key role in the fight against coronavirus, by facilitating production of mRNA vaccines at large scale - a requirement needed to meet vaccine demand on a global level.
The awards ceremony, which took place this year as a hybrid event in the Potsdamer Dorint Hotel, was also live-streamed and watched by many from their homes.
Christian Rickerts, Berlin‘s State Secretary for economy, business and energy, Jörg Steinbach, Brandenburg‘s Minister for economy, work and energy and Sven Weickert, Managing Director of the Association of Business Associations in Berlin and Brandenburg eV, praised the quality of the 168 applications for the innovation award and congratulated the winners.
Alexandra Knauer, company owner and CEO, along with Business Development Manager, Lilit Avagyan were thrilled to accept the award presented by Stephan Hoffmann from the Investment Bank of Berlin.
"The fact that we received the Berlin Brandenburg Innovation Award for our systems for lipid nanoparticle production makes me very proud of our entire team at Knauer. During the development stage, time was running out, because what could an approved corona vaccine have achieved if there had not been systems for the production of LNP for the millions of doses that we needed?" said Alexandra Knauer, who was enthusiastic about the diligence and impressive commitment of the company’s employees.
Each member of the Knauer team will receive a share of the €10,000 prize money. €3,000 will also go to the 'Menschen helfen' campaign, which finances projects for people in need in Berlin.
"I am pleased that our innovation is helping to combat the pandemic. With the support of our facilities, future nucleotide-based vaccines can certainly be produced as nanoparticles, so that there is the possibility to stand up to new virus variants as well," said Lilit Avagyan after receiving the award.
As well as the advance made in vaccine production, a decisive factor for the jury was for the potential of mRNA encapsulation in lipid nanoparticles for future applications, possibly in the fight against cancer.
Innovations from other finalists for the award included systems for the early detection of forest fires, storage systems for renewable energies, devices for laser-based particle measurement and MRI technology designed to make diagnostics more agile and cost-effective. Several IT projects were also in the running.
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