Two brothers take care of the hospitals and the fire brigade

Dusseldorf A few employees of the fire department in Mülheim an der Ruhr gathered in front of the syringe house. The sun is shining, Chef Sven Werner and his department head for emergency services and disinfection, Andreas Johann, are wearing short-sleeved uniforms. A forklift and a red truck are already waiting in the yard. The onward transport should go as quickly as possible.

The men are waiting for a product that is currently in demand like hardly any other product in the world: respiratory masks. It is corona time and they are their currency: the masks are an important tool in the fight against the virus. And they are not easy to get. There are still supply shortages five months after the outbreak of the corona virus.

In Germany, too, face protection is increasingly becoming a mandatory item of clothing. All federal states introduce mandatory wearing. And the federal government has “strongly” recommended wearing masks when shopping or on buses and trains.

But the fire department in Mülheim has no masks. Marvin and Aaron Steinberg are supposed to solve the problem. The brothers, 32 and 35 years old, have just climbed out of their pickup truck, wearing a T-shirt and jeans. With your Sixt– Rental cars transport the sought-after face protection.

“20,000 go straight to one of our hospitals,” says fire chief Werner, while he examines documents and the forklift lifts the first boxes. “The remaining 30,000 remain here.” These are not masks that you can sew yourself. Most are those with filter protection.

Marvin and Aaron Steinberg (1st and 2nd from left)

Appointment at the Mülheim fire department.

(Photo: Steinberg)

The federal government has so far failed to meet the huge demand for masks. According to Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU), Germany needs a total of several billion pieces within a few months. The large German manufacturers such as the Lübeck-based company Dräger have been producing at their limit for a long time despite the expansion of production. And the global market, in which companies like the US group 3M dominate, is eaten empty by all affected nations like grasshoppers.

This is why makeshift production facilities are being set up all over the world, including in Germany. Whether on an entrepreneurial basis, such as recently at Trigema, the laundry manufacturer of the eccentric owner Wolfgang Grupp. Or at Daimler, where breathing masks are now produced for your own needs. Or citizens sew them at home.

All of these are commendable initiatives. But: The resulting products often offer only limited protection, for example when shopping in a supermarket. They are usually not suitable for medical personnel.

And so there is a gap that people like the Steinberg brothers encounter. Small business owners who are quick to grab, who have contacts with professional providers abroad – and who do it instead of looking at the federal government – and who naturally hope to make a profit.

“What we do is of course just a drop in the ocean,” says Marvin Steinberg. He wears glasses and his shirt says “Corona Crisis”. “But it is a drop that leads to happy faces in many places.”

Also in Mülheim. “We are very happy to have enough stock now,” says fire chief Werner. The mask market has been going crazy since Corona. And no one can say how the situation will develop. “If the infection situation remains as it is, we are well prepared,” says Werner. “But who knows that?”

15 cents profit per mask

Aaron, the trained nursing nurse, and Marvin, who runs a marketing GmbH, have been in business for four weeks. You have set up offices in Mainz and Koblenz. According to their own statements, they pick up between 50,000 and 200,000 masks three to four times a week at Frankfurt or Cologne airports.

The Steinbergs are founding a company. Her name: “Pflegeliebe GmbH”. The Steinbergs customer base is growing steadily. Clinics, pharmacies, old people’s homes, hairdressers and taxi services now order from them. Sometimes small amounts are also donated.

The demand is great. Hospitals sometimes run out of masks, and resident doctors are also concerned about whether they can still treat their patients. It is particularly important that the Steinbergs also offer FFP2 and FFP3 products.

They belong to the type of mask that protects the wearer. FFP2 and FFP3 masks are therefore the appropriate equipment for doctors or nurses who handle potentially infected people. These masks cannot be made at home. Nor do companies like Trigema manufacture them. Special companies are needed for this.

Mask transport in the rented minibus

The entrepreneurs with helpers.

(Photo: Steinberg)

And that’s where the problem begins. There are also producers in Germany. In addition to corporations such as Dräger, medium-sized companies are now trying to gain a foothold in this field. The “Fight Covid-19” consortium, for example, which includes smaller companies such as the bikini company Maryan Beachwear or the mechanical engineering company Reifenhäuser, is currently building a network. Your production goal: half a million FFP2 masks per week.

However, the major mass producers among the specialist companies are primarily located in China. And the market remains chaotic. Even if production has started again in China, the purchase price continues to skyrocket. Before Corona, an FFP2 mask cost about 50 cents. Today, prices in the double-digit euro range are sometimes called up for this.

Of course, this also attracts fraudsters who try to sell unusable goods at a high price or only deliver material against prepayment – which then never reaches the customer. “A lot of providers are dubious,” says Marvin Steinberg. “Many of our customers have already fallen for fraudsters.”

The topic should be rather uncomfortable for the entrepreneur. Because Steinberg, who was also active in the field of gold-backed cryptocurrencies for a while, had once separated from an ex-partner in the dispute. Now there are anonymous articles online that accuse him of fraud. Even a criminal complaint is circulating.

So far, however, there is no convincing evidence. A civil law complaint by his ex-partner definitely failed before the Mainz Higher Regional Court. Steinberg has already had several entries in the network deleted by court. “It was a bad time for me,” he says. He was happy to be able to leave that behind.

Marvin Steinberg

The small entrepreneur has valuable contacts in China.

(Photo: Steinberg)

And he does not hide the fact that he also wants to earn money by supplying masks. However, at reasonable prices. One-way surgical masks cost him an average of 99 cents per piece, depending on the quantity, FFP2 masks between four and 5.50 euros. “The same masks are then partially resold by the pharmacies at a price of 14.99 euros,” says Steinberg.

For comparison: Trigema charges 120 euros for ten of its “reusable makeshift mouth and nose masks”. Steinberg even discloses its margin. On average, he and his brother earned 15 cents per surgical mask, and 40 cents for FFP2 masks.

Complicated procedure

And why don’t they sell to the federal government? Health Minister Jens Spahn recently made three billion euros available for the procurement of protective clothing and introduced a so-called open house procedure.

This means that the state buys centrally and at fixed prices if a manufacturer can supply at least 25,000 masks or gowns and guarantee a minimum standard. Masks, gloves and gowns are to be distributed across the federal states and the medical associations.

But there is much criticism of this method. Spahn had reacted too late, the control did not work, the procedure was too complicated. A German businessman from Taiwan recently reported to the Handelsblatt, who wanted to broker the sale of several million FFP2 masks. And not to the USA, but to his home country. But he just couldn’t figure out who to contact.

Did the Steinbergs hear about the federal government’s trial, did he try it once? “No, we’ve just been doing it that way,” says Marvin Steinberg. But that with the federal government is not a bad idea. But he did not know whom to speak to. Does the Handelsblatt have any contact? An inquiry to the Ministry of Health remains unanswered.

Procurement seems so easy. He has contacts in China, says Marvin Steinberg. He has had a business relationship there for a long time with a mask manufacturer who produces himself and can also get goods from other manufacturers if necessary. He doesn’t want to give the name. After all, it was his competitive advantage. The manufacturer vouches for the quality of the masks, says Steinberg.

Because quality is probably the most important criterion in this business. An FFP2 mask that doesn’t protect against corona viruses is not worth a penny.

Many false copies on the way

But how is the goods checked? A few days before the appointment in Mülheim, the Steinbergs are sitting in a van on their way to Frankfurt Airport. Another car is driving. The Handelsblatt is activated via WhatsApp video.

While Marvin Steinberg explains the process, his vehicles drive to a ramp outside the airport, where around 20 boxes are already waiting for loading. Also on board is Mr. Wu, a young Chinese man who supports the brothers in the process. He has a small export-import business himself, says Marvin Steinberg.

Together with Aaron Steinberg, Wu opens one of the boxes to check the contents. 200,000 surgical masks have arrived today.

Of course, you can only see what the goods look like, says Steinberg. The contents are on the boxes, and on the packaging of the masks there is usually also the CE seal of approval. The boxes would also have to go through customs. Ultimately, it is only the end user who will determine whether the masks are really good. “We only have positive feedback from them,” he reports.

The main problem is getting good quality at reasonable prices. Andreas Johann (Mülheim fire department)

Steinberg offers customers to come to his office in Mainz before buying to inspect the goods with an expert. Only then does payment have to be made – for example by bank transfer.

At any rate, the fire brigade in Mülheim is completely satisfied. “The main problem is getting good quality at reasonable prices,” says department head Johann. He doesn’t just say that.

He previously tested the breathing masks in three ways. He cut them apart and checked their strength. 5 layers, that’s good. He lit a mask with the lighter to see if the material just contracts and doesn’t burn. And finally he poured water into a mask. Since nothing flows out, it is tight. “Passed the quality test,” says Johann.

Then he and his boss Werner can thank you for a gift from Steinberg, staged effectively for the press appointment: 2500 surgical masks are available for free.

Yes, Marvin Steinberg also knows how to advertise for yourself, how to stage yourself. But who could blame him in these strange, difficult times – when breathing masks could become the product of the year, if not the decade?

More: Protective masks instead of bikinis – medium-sized companies convert their production


Corona reference: Google removes health apps

Düsseldorf, Berlin Markus Bönig is known for his clear words. With that he doesn’t shy away from a US tech giant. His start-up Vitabook has received a warning from the European representation of Google in Ireland and an application for an injunction due to unfair competition to the Cologne District Court. Both documents are Handelsblatt Inside Digital Health in front.

Where did the fuss come from? Bönig has updated his Patient.Plus app, which in its original form has been listed on the Google Play Store for two years, to a kind of “quarantine diary”. Covid-19 patients in quarantine must be asked about their condition by their doctor several times a day. This is a great effort for the dentist.

“That’s why we developed the Patient.Plus app, a digital solution,” explains Frank Heimann, chairman of the Federal Association of Pneumologists (BdP). Patient.Plus is used among others at the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, in the neurological and psychiatric medical network NeuroTransData and by members of the BdP.

After Bönig completed the update at the beginning of April, Google removed both the new and the original version of the app from the store after only four days. The background: In a letter from Google to Vitabook in the Handelsblatt Inside, it says: “We do not allow applications that are reasonably sensitive […] another tragic event is lacking or capitalizing on it. ”Bönig replies that the accusation is completely unfounded, and he also offers the app free of charge.

In a letter to Google, BdP boss Heimann also asked to offer the app again in the store: “We would very much appreciate it if you would also quickly undo your decision in the interests of the Covid-19 patients.” Apple had no complaints about the update.

Google did not want to comment on the matter, since it is a pending procedure. Basically, “web developers who want to take action to remove their apps from Google Play have the option of requesting a new check from us,” the company said on request from Handelsblatt Inside.

The Play Store guidelines state that only Covid-19 apps that have been published, commissioned, or authorized by an official government agency or public health organization will be approved. In addition, these should “not contain monetization mechanisms such as ads, in-app products or in-app donations”.

Why are decisions about German apps made in America?

However, the situation is not easy for the tech companies that provide apps. In the current situation, there are also dubious providers who want to make money or collect data with the fear of people. In the current situation, Google wants to ensure that nobody uses the corona crisis to launch malicious apps on the market. It engages with various initiatives to help itself.

The patient app by medical informatist Martin Dugas takes a similar approach to that of Bönig. In the case of his “My patient data” program, Google has now approved updates – until then, however, Dugas needed a lot of patience. For eleven days he had tried to make changes to the mini-program.

The accusation that he makes Google: The company does not manage to unlock updates and thus hinders better processes in corona operations at two clinics in Münster. “I’ve tried everything,” said Dugas – from the daily chat with the Google team, to an application for prioritization as a health-related app, to a letter of support from research colleagues in Münster.

Among other things, the Dugas app is intended to help reduce the risk of infection in queues in front of corona test stations in clinics. With his program, patients could already fill out the medical history sheet on their cell phones in compliance with data protection regulations, i.e. answer questions about symptoms and trips to risk areas. Afterwards, like Bönig’s, she should help to relieve the general practitioners.

The app had to be updated because the risk for certain patient groups is now assessed differently and the history questions have changed.

Google informs the developers that it can currently take longer than seven days for an app to be checked. This also applies to the release of new offers as well as updates to already established apps. Because researchers had tricked both Google and Apple with updates to apps in the past and demonstrated how data protection gaps can be subsequently incorporated into the small programs. It was apparently a warning to Google.

Dugas has no understanding for such long processing times. He has been developing medical apps for ten years. For him, the current problems raise a fundamental question. “How can it be that decisions and reviews about an app that is to go online in Germany are made in America?” In his view, the activation in Europe should be decided according to the local legislation.

Handelsblatt Inside Digital Health

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More: Disputes in the development of tracing app for corona virus – the launch is delayed.


Chloroquine: what can the corona medicine do?

On Wednesday, US scientists submitted a study that the use of these agents in the therapy of patients with the novel lung disease has not achieved the desired success.

Hydroxychloroquine is an active ingredient derived from chloroquine, both of which are normally used for malaria prophylaxis or for rheumatoid arthritis. In laboratory tests, however, it could be shown that the agents slow down the proliferation of coronaviruses and could therefore lead to a milder course of the disease in Covid-19.

In China, chloroquine was successfully tested on patients in February, but this was only done on a small scale by 100 participants. This had fueled expectations around the world that they would soon have an effective remedy for the new lung disease. US President Donald Trump publicly praised the drug, many countries – including Germany – stocked up with the drug as a precaution.

Both active ingredients are manufactured by several pharmaceutical companies, the company sells Bayer AG Chloroquine under the brand name Resochin. Bayer ramped up production and donated millions of tablets to different countries. However, the agents may not yet be used for the therapy of Covid-19 because the approval for this is lacking.

To do this, research must first be carried out to determine whether and how the substances are actually effective against Covid-19 and what risks and side effects they involve in this application. Large-scale studies have been started worldwide, of which the first results are now gradually becoming known.

Negative results

In the United States, doctors have treated male Covid-19 patients in hospitals for US veterans with hydroxychloroquine. Around 100 received the drug, and another 113 received the antibiotic azithromycin. The second group consisted of 160 patients who received none of these drugs.

In a comparison of the two groups, hydroxychloroquine had no positive effect on the course of the disease. Taking hydroxychloroquine or a combination with azithromycin did not reduce the likelihood of being connected to a ventilator, the study said. Patients who only received the malaria drug even had a significantly higher death rate, it said.

A study in Brazil delivered similar negative results a few days ago. There, chloroquine had been tested in high doses on Covid-19 patients, together with the antibiotic azithromycin. However, after eleven people died of arrhythmia, the study was stopped.

For chloroquine as a beacon of hope against Covid-19, both results are a setback. Ultimately, however, they still do not provide a robust risk-benefit profile.

Firstly, the number of study participants is just as small as that in China. Studies with 100 patients on the usual scale in the pharmaceutical industry have far too little basis to provide certainty about their effects and side effects.

On the other hand, one has to take a closer look at the results: In the USA and Brazil, chloroquine / hydroxychloroquine was used in Covid 19 patients who were already seriously ill – in high doses, in Brazil even beyond the recommended dosage.

Large series of studies just started

Even before these studies, it could be seen that chloroquine no longer worked if the course of the disease was already advanced and could be dangerous because of the side effects. In China, for example, the drug was allegedly successfully administered to patients to slow the spread of viruses at an early stage of the disease.

Reliable results on chloroquine are not expected until the two large series of studies by the World Health Organization and a French research institute are available. But they have just started.

Bayer is also pushing ahead with Resochin’s investigation itself. The group is cooperating with the Canadian health research institute PHRI.

Various combinations of medications are being tested, including chloroquine and Bayer’s multiple sclerosis agent interferon beta-1b. 6000 patients in more than 60 study centers should participate.

More: Corona vaccine: Biontech receives first approval for clinical study in Germany.


With the capital increase, Drägerwerk will generate around EUR 76 million

Dräger company

A company flag flies in front of the Drägerwerk company headquarters.

(Photo: dpa)

Frankfurt The medical technology manufacturer Drägerwerk, which is very busy due to the corona pandemic, has raised new capital. The manufacturer of ventilation machines and other devices for intensive care medicine announced on Monday that it had achieved gross issue proceeds of EUR 76.50 million with the issue of around one million preferred shares.

The shares were placed with institutional investors by means of an accelerated placement process. The net proceeds from the capital increase should partially finance the termination of the series A and K participation certificates and, in the short term, strengthen the liquidity and equity base with regard to the high order intake in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Despite surge in medical technology: Philips cancels annual targets

Frankfurt A sharp decline in the business with household appliances and consumer products due to the corona crisis has occurred in the Dutch PhilipsGroup slump in profit in the first quarter. In medical technology, however, the pandemic led to higher sales of ventilators and monitoring monitors for patients and ventilators, among other things. The demand for IT solutions for the healthcare industry and telemedical offerings also increased.

CEO Frans van Houten withdrew the annual targets still issued at the end of January, according to which sales should increase between four and six percent. Now the Philips CEO only expects a modest increase in sales and a similar improvement in the margin.

“Given the uncertainties and volatility, we cannot give a more specific outlook for 2020 at this point,” said van Houten. The company anticipates a further decline in business in the second quarter as the pandemic has spread worldwide since March. The company boss hopes for a recovery in the second half of the year.

The bottom line, the Philips boss sees the corona crisis as a confirmation of the corporate strategy of the past few years, in which the company has focused heavily on digital technologies. “We have always said that health IT and cloud-based solutions have to play a greater role in order to network providers with each other and with the patient.

The demand for such offers is now accelerating due to this crisis, ”said van Houten in an interview with the Handelsblatt. Among other things, Philips has developed a smartphone app that makes it easier for doctors to remotely care for Covid patients.

Nevertheless, medical technology was unable to compensate for the weak business with consumer products at Philips: Overall, sales in the first quarter remained almost stable at 4.2 billion euros. Calculated on a comparable basis – i.e. without currency effects and purchases and sales – sales shrank by two percent. Net profit decreased from € 162 million in the prior-year quarter to € 39 million.

Order intake increases by 23 percent

The first quarter results were below analysts’ expectations. Still, many stuck to their recommendations. Philips’ position as a manufacturer of urgently needed medical products will help the company to survive the crisis without major damage, say the analysts of the Commerzbank.

Positive news from Philips includes that order intake rose 23 percent in the first quarter. The company also adheres to the planned dividend payment of 0.85 cents, which is now to be paid out in shares.


At the Euronext in Paris, Philips’ shares temporarily rose by more than seven percent. The titles of other medical technology companies such as Drägerwerk and Siemens Healthineers won.

The fact that the corona crisis brings medical technology companies an order boost does not apply to all companies in the industry. Because the pandemic is delaying some predictable operations, which has negative effects on manufacturers of artificial joints and surgical equipment.

The US company, for example, had last week Johnson & Johnson significantly reduced its sales forecast for the medical technology division. The family-owned company B. Braun, whose subsidiary Aesculap manufactures artificial joints and surgical devices, also expects demand in this business area to decline temporarily in the regions affected by the Corona crisis.

Philips also feels that these predictable, so-called elective interventions are being postponed. Especially in the cardiovascular area. Many cardiovascular surgeries that are supported with Philips imaging technology are being put on hold.

Frans Van Houten believes the impact on imaging techniques is quite large. For this reason, Philips expects sales in the Diagnostics & Treatment business areas to decline overall. “We expect these patients to come back in the third quarter when the situation normalizes,” says van Houten.

Production capacity is greatly expanded

In order to meet the significantly increased need for ventilators and patient monitoring systems, Philips is investing more than 100 million euros in expanding production capacities in the USA and also at the German location in Böblingen.

For example, the production of clinical ventilators is expected to increase fourfold by the third quarter. Among other things, Philips wants to serve a major order from the US government for 43,000 respiratory advisors and at the same time supply other regions with the urgently needed medical equipment.

Despite its corona crisis, Philips is sticking to its plan to split off the household appliances division. The company announced in January that it was parting from the 2.3 billion euro business with coffee machines, deep fryers and vacuum cleaners because it does not fit the company’s medical technology focus.

“We are making progress with the preparations to split off the household appliances division. We said the process takes 12 to 18 months. We are on target. ”Although the division saw double-digit sales losses in the first quarter, Houten does not believe that this will have a negative impact on price negotiations in a possible sales process.

“The household products business is a strong business. We know from previous crises like the SARS pandemic or the economic crisis how quickly business is recovering. We have a strong brand, ”the Philips boss is confident.

More: Philips CEO: “There will be no Google model in the health sector”


Gilead medicine is said to show initial success in infected people

So now also an American investigation with the antiviral agent Remdesivir, which the US biotech group Gilead originally developed against Ebola.

Most of the patients were able to leave the clinic after less than the intended ten days of treatment. Only two of a total of 113 seriously ill patients died afterwards.

The information comes from an internal video of the university that was leaked to the online publication. Ultimately, however, they represent only a small section of a much larger US study with the drug, as the authors of the report and the treating doctor noted.

The meaningfulness is therefore very limited. In total, the Gilead study is expected to include 2,400 seriously ill Covid-19 patients at more than 150 study centers.

Notwithstanding this, the announcement caused euphoria among investors and brought the share of the US biotech group up to 16 percent after the market. In Frankfurt, it was temporarily up 21 percent on Friday.

Many investors interpret the information as further evidence that the US company’s drug could actually be an effective weapon against the corona virus.

Little glimmer of hope

In this regard, Remdesivier has long been considered one of the few hopefuls, alongside some other active ingredients such as that once used by Bayer developed the malaria drug chloroquine and the AIDS medication lopinavir and darunavir, which are sold as a combination under the name Kaletra.

In February, representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) even said that remdesivir may be the only available drug that could show real effectiveness.

However, the evidence for this is still very thin. Various test series from Chinese clinics with the active substance are considered too weak and poorly structured to provide reliable information.

According to the database, eleven clinical trials have now been initiated in which Gilead’s product is tested in one form or another.

Other drug candidates have also shown in the past weeks that hasty conclusions should be treated with caution. For example, the debate about chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine drugs, which US President Donald Trump, among others, has hailed as potential remedies, has been overlaid by conflicting news.

While Chinese and French doctors certify that the active substances have a positive effect against Covid 19 disease, a Brazilian study with the drug recently had to be stopped because too many patients died.

A challenge for almost all drug candidates is the sometimes considerable side effects that restrict use in many old and multiple pre-existing patients. Chloroquine, for example, apparently increases the risk of dangerous cardiac arrhythmias. Among other things, increased liver function tests and kidney failure have been observed with Remdesivir.

Use in hardship

The drug has not yet been approved. According to Gilead, it has meanwhile been used outside of the official clinical studies in around 1800 patients as part of so-called hardship regulations.

The active ingredient is a nucleotide analog: it blocks an enzyme that viruses need to multiply. Similar agents are used, for example, in AIDS treatment – an area in which Gilead is a leading provider.

According to Gilead, remdesivir has shown a relatively broad antiviral effect in animal models, including against the pathogens of Mers and Sars infections related to Covid-19. In turn, the US researchers see this as an indication that the drug could also act against the causative agent Covid-19.

Data from 53 of the patients treated under hardship regulations were reported a few days ago in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). After that, almost half of these patients were able to leave the hospital after 18 days of treatment, and 84 percent showed an improvement in breathing. Around a quarter of the patients showed increased liver values, seven of the 53 patients died.

Handelsblatt Morning Briefing - Corona Spezial

Given the small number of patients, these data also did not allow any conclusions to be drawn, as the company itself noted. “The results of the analysis are encouraging, but the data are limited,” said Gilead Medical Director Merdad Parsey.

However, a number of larger studies, which have now been started in the United States and internationally and are expected to include thousands of patients, are likely to provide significantly more meaningful results.

In addition to the Gilead study, this also includes the Solidarity study initiated by the WHO and the Discovery study coordinated by the French research institute Inserm.

All study programs test the drugs chloroquine / hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, Kaletra and the multiple sclerotic agent beta-interferon with each other and in comparison to standard treatment.

Experts expect that the first results from these studies could be available towards the end of April and then provide more valid statements with regard to promising treatment strategies. For the US studies with remdesivir, at least the first interim results are expected for the next few days.

More: A spray against Corona – biotech companies form new alliances.


Fresh capital for healthcare software start-up Smart Reporting

Cologne The increasing number of corona infected is also a problem for radiologists. Because Covid-19 patients with severe breathing difficulties or even lung failure are viewed by doctors using computed tomography (CT). With this special x-ray, the doctors want to better assess the course of the respiratory disease. However, radiologists in particular, who have not yet come into contact with the virus, are often uncertain when assessing the largely unknown clinical picture.

Wieland Sommer knows the complexity of creating such findings from his own experience and has therefore developed a way to support doctors. The radiologist is the founder of the start-up Smart Reporting and offers software that, among other things, allows radiologists to document their CT findings. Part of the software is now a report template especially for Covid 19 patients, which Sommer is currently making available free of charge.

When radiologists evaluate the CT images, they can use the Smart Reporting report template on their own computer. They are guided step by step through the application and receive clinical background information, reference images, common classifications and current recommendations from the international radiology societies on Covid-19. In addition, radiologists no longer write the findings in free text, but can use pre-made text modules.

The template for Covid 19 patients is one of many templates that Sommer developed together with doctors and IT specialists from his company Smart Reporting. “I am convinced that the medicine of the future is also a data science,” says Sommer. According to the company, more than 10,000 radiologists from over 90 countries worldwide use the smart reporting templates.

And it shouldn’t stop there: Smart Reporting has now collected 15 million euros for the further growth plans. This emerges from a communication that is available to the Handelsblatt. The Munich venture capitalist Yabeo is the lead investor. In the past, Smart Reporting already secured growth capital of 6.5 million euros as part of a first round of financing.

Basis for algorithms

In addition to the technological approach, Yabeo investor Matthias Sohler also won over the sales concept of Smart Reporting. “The great thing about smart reporting – in addition to the technology platform and medical expertise – is the pronounced diversification of the sales channel: that large companies like Agfa, General Electric or Siemens takes a B2B2C approach. ”If a hospital purchases a new CT device from one of the medical technology manufacturers mentioned, the Smart Reporting template can be included in the delivery.

With the fresh capital, Smart Reporting now wants to grow quickly. An expansion to the US market is planned, and reports for oncologists and cardiologists will soon be available. “In 2025, we calculate sales of more than 100 million euros,” says Sohler. In addition to radiologists, the company already offers its services to pathologists.

Prior to founding his company, Sommer had acquired expertise abroad: studied medicine in Heidelberg, Madrid and Berlin; Assistant doctor positions in radiology in Lausanne and Munich; Master’s degree in public health from Harvard University. Shortly before he founded Smart Reporting as a spin-off from a research project in December 2014, he was appointed professor of radiology at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

Back then, he was surprised that “big data” was spoken of everywhere. The basis for this – standardized documentation – was not given at all. The 40-year-old has a bold goal: Findings should become the standard for all medical documentation. Not only do other doctors benefit from this because they can understand the entries made by colleagues directly.

Wieland summer

The radiologist is the founder of the start-up Smart Reporting.

(Photo: Smart Reporting GmbH / Oliver Bellen)

Standardized data is also machine-readable and can train artificial intelligence. “We work with a large university hospital to develop algorithms, but that is currently not our core business. We offer the infrastructure, others train the algorithms, ”says Sommer.

The business area is therefore also attractive for other companies, such as the Heidelberg company Mint Medical, a spin-off from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), or the French company Keydiag, which was founded in 2018.

“With the increasingly complex radiological imaging and increasing number of examinations in the daily workflow, the structured diagnosis will become even more important,” says Jens Vogel-Claussen. He is a senior physician at the Institute of Radiology at the Hannover Medical School and has chaired the “Thorax Diagnostics” working group at the German X-ray Society.

Smart Reporting founder Sommer has some supporters in his vision: In addition to co-managing director Johannes Huber, there are around 30 investors, including Wolfgang Reitzle, chairman of the supervisory board the DaxCorporations Linde and Continental. Sommer’s father is also a partner in the company, and he is also a radiologist.

More: A spray against Corona – biotech companies form new alliances.


Safety glasses instead of champagne wearers – Sauer changes over

Management of the Dieburger company Sauer

Martin Sauer (right) and Johann Georg von Hülsen changed the production at the car supplier Sauer to protective glasses at short notice.

(Photo: Sauer Product GmbH)

Frankfurt Usually it is plastic parts with a noble design that Martin Sauer proudly presents. For example, the champagne holder for one Rolls-Royce. The entrepreneur runs the Sauer company from Dieburg in southern Hesse, which his great-grandfather once founded: a specialist in plastic injection molding. With 180 employees and an annual turnover of around 25 million euros, the company mainly works for premium manufacturers in the automotive industry. The company also supplies medical technology and industrial companies.

But in times of Corona and a low car production, creativity is required. They have proven Sauer and his team. In just two weeks they developed safety glasses with the “Wesion 20” and brought them to industrial production. ,

But Sauer had a decisive advantage here. The company specializes in small series. “The short-term response to new customer requirements is basically nothing new for us,” explains the 36-year-old CEO. In addition: “We are a hybrid company that offers everything from services such as the creation of initial sketches to development and industrial production.” One could have brought the glasses to industrial series production in just a few weeks because you could have all the know-how in the company – from the idea to the necessary work equipment.

In addition, Dieburg has been dealing with the question of how to become even more independent of the car industry for some time. “We had already dealt with the question of which products might be attractive to us in addition to the topic of cars in the past two years,” says Johann Georg von Hülsen (46), co-managing director at Sauer Product and partner of management consultancy Haselhorst Associates worked on the strategic direction of the company. It also identified suitable components that could be developed and produced using the technical possibilities. The subject of eye protection was one of them.

Suppliers from the region

The glasses themselves are very simple. It is made entirely of polycarbonate. “So we don’t need a complex supply chain,” explains Sauer. And the few suppliers you need come from the region. Sauer has not outsourced so much from the value chain in the past.

The flow of goods at Sauer, like at all automotive suppliers, is partly global. “However, we also work very closely with regional suppliers and partners,” says Sauer. In projects like safety glasses in particular, this makes it possible to shorten the processes extremely.

Sauer is not the only supplier to have adjusted its production due to the corona crisis. The tuning company Zender in Osnabrück has recently been producing medical protective masks. Zettl from Bavaria, actually a manufacturer of seat covers for vehicles, has also switched to protective masks.

Even big companies like BMW are currently supplementing their production with products such as respiratory protection masks. But VDA President Hildegard Müller recently warned of excessive expectations. Such products would have to meet the requirements and processes of medical technology, that had to be checked carefully.

Sauer now wants to build and deliver many thousands of glasses a day. The demand is great, for example from public bodies such as social services or aid organizations. By the way: Sauer also relied on its own expertise when it came to selling the latest product. The contacts were addressed and asked who could use such protection. The rest came of itself.

More: How long do the belts stand still? The supplier industry cannot afford a false start


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