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History of the Project and Company Building

LIMAA Technologies (LIght-sheet Microscopy and Automated Analysis) is a spin-off from the working group of Dr. Dr. René Hägerling from Charité - University Hospital in Berlin.

René has been working for more than 10 years on three-dimensional analysis of tissue samples, since in his early career he was interested in embryonic vascular development. The standard histology methods back then have been limited to two-dimensional sections and didn’t allow a deep understand of complex tissue architecture of large biospecimens. He was one of the early hardware prototype testers of light-sheet microscopes from start-ups and companies in Germany, and was a frontrunner in spatial visualization of the vascular system.

As part of his academic career, René was invited to the exclusive Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2014, where he could meet Nobel Laureates with 600 other participants, which have been selected from a pool of global top talent applicants. During the conference, he met Dr. Fabian Mohr, who himself was pursuing a career in oncology research, but later switched from the academic side to strategy consulting and early-stage venture capital. With the first idea to use light-sheet based microscopy as a histological diagnostic tool to differentiate between lymphedema, a dysfunction or malformation of lymph vessels, and lipoedema, a fat tissue disorder, they joined forces in 2017 to bring light-sheet imaging into the clinical routine. Based on their first business idea, they participated at the MedTech Bootcamp in southern Germany and raised first interest by private health insurances since liposuction for lipoedema patients was reimbursed but still lacking a clear diagnostic test.

After finishing his degrees in Chemistry, Medicine, and a PhD. in Biology and Imaging, René moved from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster to start his residency at the Charité - University Hospital in Berlin. As a clinician scientist and group leader, he continued working on light-sheet imaging-based diagnostics leading to a ticket for the Berlin Institute of Health Digital Health Accelerator together with Fabian as business lead in 2019. Based on several stakeholder interviews and a deeper understanding of pathology, the idea of a diagnostic test moved towards a completely automated end-to-end platform for histopathology for entire tissue biopsies in contrast to the current glass slide-based analyses.

To understand the performance of analyzing entire tissue specimens, René and Fabian partnered with Prof. Bruno Märkl, director of the Institute of Pathology at the University Hospital in Augsburg for a clinical feasibility study in 2020. Based on very promising pilot data, the team acquired EXIST funding in 2021 for the translation of the scientific and clinical results into products which initiated the company building program of LIMAA Technologies. The project was further backed in 2022 by a partnership with Prof. David Horst at the Institute of Pathology at Charité, another grant from the European Research Council, and ultimately the incorporation of LIMAA Technologies GmbH.

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