Evonik Invests in Chinese 3D-Printing Start-Up
Medical Implants Made from PEEK
Evonik Venture Capital, Essen, Germany, has invested in a 3D-printing start-up in China that makes implants for neuro and spine surgery. The technology enables faster recovery and fewer post-operation checks for patients and less surgical risk for doctors. Evonik is the lead investor in a high single-digit million-euro round of fundraising for Shanghai-based Meditool.
Meditool has developed its own hardware and software systems. The software can read and process images directly from commonly used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography scan (CT) devices. A readily printable 3D model is generated by the software and sent to the printer. The implants are 3D printed with a high-performance polymer supplied by Evonik called Polyetheretherketone (PEEK).
New Possibilities for the Replacement of Metallic Implants
For patients and doctors, 3D-printed PEEK implants are revolutionary compared with metal, the current conventional solution for the orthopaedics implant market. 3D-printing allows customization so that, for example, a plate can be made to fit precisely to the patient’s skull. This reduces the likelihood that further operations will be required to adjust the size, shape or positioning of the implant. PEEK is less thermally conductive than metal, meaning that patients exposed to hot and cold temperatures won’t be in danger of the implant heating up or cooling down excessively. The material is biocompatible (not harmful to living tissue) and CT and MRI examinations become possible after surgery.
The Chinese market is the world’s second largest for medical implants with expected annual growth rates of 10-15%. Evonik’s venture capital arm has already invested in two funds in China and with Meditool, it now has its first direct investment. Co-investors in Meditool include ZN Ventures, Morningside Ventures and Puhua Capital.Evonik Venture Capital plays a strategic role in Evonik’s goal to become a best-in-class specialty chemicals company, by helping secure access to disruptive technologies and innovative business models as well as supporting digital transformation. To this end, Evonik launched its second venture capital fund with a volume of EUR 150 million at the beginning of 2019, more than doubling the amount under management to EUR 250 million.
Evonik markets its high-performance polymer polyetheretherketone under the name Vestakeep.
Evonik Performance Materials GmbH
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