Spin-off ionysis develops sustainable core components for the hydrogen economy
A team from the “Electrochemical Energy Systems” division at Hahn-Schickard in Freiburg, with the support of the University of Freiburg, has founded “ionysis GmbH”. The goal is to develop and commercialize more efficient membrane electrode assemblies for fuel cells to market maturity with the help of strong strategic partners.
To achieve the climate targets, sustainable mobility must also become a reality for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. ionysis GmbH develops highly efficient, emission-free and sustainable core components for fuel cells. This includes that the so-called “membrane electrode assemblies” have a significantly reduced content of perfluorinated substances — a problematic component that is increasingly being banned worldwide due to its environmental impact. “Together with international partners, we were able to develop novel fuel cells that match state of the art performance for the first time. Moreover, they can be more efficient and operated at higher temperatures in the future,” explains Dr. Matthias Breitwieser, Chief Technology Officer of ionysis GmbH. “This makes them particularly suitable for heavy commercial vehicles or applications in aviation.”
On September 1, 2022, ionysis started operations with a team of eight people and plans to grow further already in the first months. In addition to Dr. Matthias Breitwieser (Chief Technology Officer), Dr. Florian Lombeck (Chief Scientist) and Dr. Severin Vierrath (Scientific Advisor) — active or former employees of Hahn-Schickard and the University of Freiburg — Dr. Andreas Büchler (Chief Operation Officer) and Lisa Langer (Chief Financial Officer) complement the technical founding team. More Hahn-Schickard employees joined the company with the operational start.
The aim is to further develop novel, more environmentally friendly membrane electrode assemblies and also to demonstrate their technical feasibility on a large scale. As another start-up in the field of hydrogen and decarbonization technologies, ionysis GmbH complements the strong “green tech” founding scene in Freiburg. The foundation for the spin-off was laid within the framework of several publicly funded research projects: Both the state of Baden-Württemberg (“DirectMEA”) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (“DirectStack”, FKZ: 03ETB024D) provided financial support for the work. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research provided funding tailored to the German-Canadian exchange within the framework of the projects “FlexCoat” (FKZ: 01DM19008A) and “FC-CAT” (FKZ: 03SF0579B). This particularly enabled intensive technical collaboration with the “hydrogen hub” Vancouver. Two strong investors have now been acquired for the spin-off, who are not only contributing the financial resources: “Through our investors, we have valuable access to industry know-how and business development support in addition to substantial financing in the mid-single-digit million range,” says Lisa Langer.
ionysis is the eighth spin-off from the environment of Prof. Dr. Roland Zengerle, a Hahn-Schickard institute director and holder of the professorship for MEMS applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg. These spin-offs have since created about 335 high-tech jobs in Freiburg. The first spin-off from the field of “Electrochemical Energy Systems” expands this start-up network now from life sciences to energy and sustainability. With Dr. Matthias Breitwieser’s change to the management of ionysis, Dr. Carolin Klose takes over the co-management of the Hahn-Schickard division with Dr. Severin Vierrath: “I am very much looking forward to my new role and to developing the group further. ionysis is a great motivation for our work and offers an excellent perspective for further synergies and collaborations in the future.”