RWTH Aachen Start-up Wins the Largest Business Plan Competition Worldwide

Managing Director Rice Alliance Brad Burke, Marius Rosenberg und Alexander Schüller in Houston Copyright: © Rice University

Researchers from RWTH Aachen won the Rice Business Plan Competition, the largest and ‘richest’ graduate-level student startup competition worldwide. Their start-up company Medical Adhesive Revolution GmbH, MAR for short, developed a high-strength biodegradable surgical adhesive that can be used inside the human body to seal wounds within seconds.


Competing against 1200 applications from other aspiring entrepreneurs, the team from Medical Adhesive Revolution, together with 41 other teams, made it to the final round and was invited to present its business model at Rice University in Houston, Texas, USA. There the finalists presented their business ideas in front of an audience of 800 and a jury of over 250 venture-capital and investor judges.

At the 2014 event, Marius Rosenberg und Alexander Schüller, doctoral candidates at RWTH’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group headed by Professor Malte Brettel, succeeded in convincing the jury of their business venture and were awarded the Grand Prize as well as a total prize money of over half a million dollars.

Rosenberg is managing director of the Medical Adhesive Revolution start-up company; Schüller is one of the heads of the RWTH Aachen Entrepreneurship Centre.

Biodegradable Surgical Adhesive

The product of the young entrepreneurs' company is a biodegradable surgical adhesive for medical applications. The jury was particularly impressed with the product's advanced state of development, which results from the excellent collaboration between research, business and industry in the region.

“For us, the first place is a great success. We are delighted with the attention that our product is currently receiving. The competition gave us the unique opportunity to build contacts with US-American investors,” explained managing director Marcus Rosenberg.

“This success is a great achievement for such a young company. For me, this is a great example of how industrial and academic research can join forces for the development of a commercially attractive product,” said Professor Malte Brettel, Vice-Rector of Industry and Business Relations of RWTH Aachen University.

The MAR biodegradable sealant can be used for closure of external wounds of the skin, as a tissue adhesive to re-connect tissue or organs after surgery, and as a tissue sealant to seal air and fluid leakages of organs, for example in case of perforation of the lung.

The adhesive can be precisely administered and seals wounds within seconds. There are clinical applications in plastic surgery and emergency medicine, for example. As Marius Rosenberg sums up: “The product is revolutionary, really, as it possesses ideal technical properties. Furthermore it is easy to apply and cost-effective in production.”

The Rice Business Plan Competition

The Rice Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition. It is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

More than 130 corporate and private sponsors support the competition. Venture capitalists and other investors from around the country judge the competition, with the majority of judges coming from the investment sector. The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product.

Medical Adhesive Revolution GmbH

The company Medical Adhesive Revolution GmbH was established in 2013 in Aachen by Professor Malte Brettel, Professor Dr. René Tolba, Dr. Heike Heckroth, and Marius Rosenberg in Aachen. The adhesive had been developed by a chemical company and extensively tested by René Tolba, a medical doctor. In March 2014, the company secured initial funding via Seed Fonds II Aachen, the promotional bank KfW, and a number of private investors.