Göttingen-based Abberior Instruments GmbH takes home German Industry's Innovation Award 2014

Young startup win prestigious innovation award

March 20, 2014

Göttingen-based Abberior Instruments GmbH was named as winner of this year's German Industry’s Innovation Award, now in its 33rd year. The spin-off of the Department NanoBiophotonics at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry came first in the "startup" category, topping a field of 140 competitors. It receives the award for the first commercially developed RESOLFT-based superresolution microscope. The awarding ceremony was held on March 15, 2014 as part of a festive gala event in Frankfurt am Main.

In its decision to present the Innovation Award to the young startup company, the jury recognised Abberior Instruments GmbH's extensive know-how and new, commercially viable ideas as well as its impressive level of innovation, market opportunities, and economic viability. The jury was also impressed by the technology's application possibilities and synergies and potential benefits to society.

"We feel greatly honoured that a young company as ours is being presented with such a prestigious award in recognition of our achievements. We believe that the prize recognizes our commitment and our willingness to take risks and to independently market innovations in microscopy," says Gerald Donnert, Managing Director of Göttingen Abberior Instruments GmbH. For many years, the physicist was a researcher in the field of high-resolution microscopy in the Department of NanoBiophotonics, headed by Max Planck Director Stefan Hell. Together with Stefan Hell, other department colleagues and scientists from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, where Hell is also head of a department, Donnert launched the superresolution light microscopes company in 2012. Basis for the spin-off Abberior Instruments GmbH was the groundbreaking discovery made at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen that it is possible to outsmart the Abbe diffraction resolution barrier with a trick and increase the resolution of conventional optical microscopes by up to ten times - and in principle by even more. Closely-positioned elements are kept dark under a special laser beam so that they emit fluorescence sequentially one after the other, rather than simultaneously. They can thus be distinguished.

"Like any important discovery with relevance for future applications, the new RESOLFT microscope also has vast commercial potential," explains Hell. Similar to the STED microscopy technology developed at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, RESOLFT technology enables sharp images of the smallest cell structures. Unlike all other high-resolution methods, however, a RESOLFT microscope requires significantly less intensive light. It is therefore particularly well suited to studying live cells and tissues at the nanoscale, even over longer periods of time.

"Quite obviously, if there is a better microscope, one that allows you to look even more closely into the nano-universe of live cells, scientists will want to use such a microscope in their labs", says Hell. Donnert envisions the operational areas of the RESOLFT microscope particularly in the life sciences and medicine." Ultimately, our microscopes are tools that enable researchers to make fundamental discoveries in these areas, which will benefit society on the whole. At Abberior Instruments, we have set ourselves the objective of equipping researchers from around the world with the sharpest and most powerful light microscopes which can be built at the time from Göttingen. "

About the Innovation Award of German Industry

The First Innovation Award In The World was established in 1980. Since then, it has been awarded in recognition of scientific, technical, entrepreneurial and intellectual innovations of the German industry. The award is presented in four categories: major companies, SMEs, startups and innovative HR concepts. The winners have the right to commercially use the award, logo, and brand of the Innovation Award. Germany's Industry Innovation Award is being presented under the patronage of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. This year, a total of 320 companies competed in four categories.

About Abberior Instruments GmbH

The Goettingen-based company specializes in high-resolution microscopes. Founded as the Abberior Instruments GmbH in 2012 by Gerald Donnert, Alexander Egner, Benjamin Harke, Stefan Hell, Lars Kastrup, Matthias Reuss and Andreas Schönle, the company is a spin-off of the Department of NanoBiophotonics at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg.


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