BioNTech is a beacon of the German start-up scene and one of the greatest success stories of a biotech company founded by immigrants in the wake of the global corona pandemic. It shows how a start-up became a globally operating company that was able to develop disruptive solutions for one of the greatest challenges facing global health systems in the last few decades.
BioNTech started as a young German start-up in the biotech sector. Today, thanks to its cooperation with Pfizer, the company plays in the top league of global pharmaceutical giants. This was mainly due to the pioneering work in the development of an effective vaccine against Covid-19, where BioNTech finally triumphed thanks to immense efforts and a good dose of daring.
The Covid-19 pandemic is placing a heavy burden on global health systems. Both established global corporations and countless start-ups took up the challenge and invested a lot of time and resources to finally develop an adequate vaccine against the corona virus. BioNTech is one such start-up. It quickly became clear to the company founders, Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, that they wanted to go beyond their previous cancer research to develop a Covid-19 immunotherapy. That was in January 2020. And just a few months later, BioNTech discovered the technology behind the very first Covid-19 vaccine.
The Mainz-based company was founded in 2008. The power couple Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, children of Turkish immigrants in Germany, have specialized in their research on mRNA immunotherapy for cancer patients. The technology behind it: So-called messenger RNA molecules trigger the production of proteins in the body’s own cells in order to stimulate the immune system, prevent diseases or fight them.
At the beginning of 2020, Ugur Sahin recognized that Corona would develop into a global pandemic. This was at a time when many people still believed that Corona would only remain a local phenomenon. On January 24th, Sahin and his wife at the breakfast table decided to interrupt the work of his research department on the ongoing projects and to invest all resources in the development of a corona vaccine. Interesting fun fact: The employees were supposedly not enthusiastic about this decision at the beginning, but time should prove the two founders right: BioNTech finally managed to bring the vaccine BNT 162b2 to the market in an unusually short time for the industry.
Another milestone for the company: In March 2020, BioNTech pooled its resources with the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to jointly develop and manufacture the Pfizer BioNTech mRNA vaccine. This vaccine was finally ready for commercial use by the end of 2020. Thanks to the partnership between these two very dissimilar companies, it was possible to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year. This represents a triumph of science in the field of global health research. BioNTech is thus a shining example of how partnerships between start-ups and established companies can be a starting point for the rapid and effective development of innovations.
With humble beginnings, a tight budget, but with an extraordinary commitment to saving lives around the world, the story of BioNTech is a beacon in the global innovation landscape. The vaccine developed by BioNTech is one of the most important steps on the way to a new normal and the end of the pandemic.
Know more about BioNTech.
The company is one of the 12 World Technology Leaders
running for the international public vote 2021.