Molecular Plasma Group (MPG) was created in 2016 as a spin-off from the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) to commercialise a unique nano coating technology using cold atmospheric plasma. “We knew that we had a fantastic technology able to fix organic molecules onto any surface in a permanent way, thereby changing its functionality,” says CEO Marc Jacobs. “In order to find out how to use it to bring real value to customers, we initiated 50 proofs of concept with various clients that all focused on enabling adhesion to very difficult substrates.”

This opened our eyes to a new market with huge potential.

Molecular Plasma Group benefits from research partnerships for commercial successThe company positioned itself as a technology platform, and trademarked its solution as MolecularGripTM. The focus was on major players in the field of gluing and on robotics technology integrators that could use the technology in their industrial production lines. However, through a proof of concept realised together with the university KU Leuven, the company was able to show that it could fix biomolecules such as antibodies onto glass substrates in 10 seconds, rather than the current industry standard of 24 hours.

“This opened our eyes to a new market with huge potential,” says Mr Jacobs. In order to move forward, MPG successfully applied to the healthtech vertical of accelerator programme Fit 4 Start. “This helped us develop a roadmap and enabled us to initiate proofs of concept with several global biomedical players.”

Research partnership for virucidal and environmentally facemasks

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the MPG team looked into using its technology to graft a virucidal coating onto personal protective equipment. “Our idea got an enthusiastic response from local hospitals,” recalls Mr Jacobs.

MPG set up a collaborative research partnership with LIST, the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the Robert Schuman hospital group and medical supply chain solutions and healthcare services provider Santé Services. With co-funding from the Ministry of the Economy, they developed a method for grafting molecules of citric acid – a natural substance used as a flavouring and preservative in food and beverages – onto facemask material. “This is the safest and most environmentally friendly solution that could possibly be imagined – but it only works with our technology,” Mr Jacobs points out.

This is the safest and most environmentally friendly solution that could possibly be imagined – but it only works with our technology.

Together with its partners, MPG also developed the machinery needed to industrialise the process as well as an in-line inspection technology for the coatings – a critical step, as the coatings are measured in nanometres and quality control must be extremely precise. So far, MPG has sold machines to industrial partners in Luxembourg and Belgium. Requests are coming from all over the world, and the company is working on a big test order for the Asian market. “The cost for adding the coating is really insignificant. There is no reason why this should not be a new global standard.”

Credibility and maturity: the main benefits

With simple adjustments, the industrial machines can be adapted to treat plastics, textile or even steel sheets. “In one single year, we did work with LIST and LIH that would normally take 3-5 years,” Mr Jacobs underlines. “The outcomes of our R&D partnership catapulted us from a start-up to a mature company with a proven industrial technology that is integrated into the medical device production chain. The credibility and maturity that we gained are also opening up other markets: we have already delivered a system for an automotive pilot line and are close to a delivery in the field of electronics. Our focus is now on scaling and selling our offering.”

The outcomes of our R&D partnership catapulted us from a start-up to a mature company with a proven industrial technology.

Several new R&D collaborations with LIST focusing on industrial topics are in the pipeline. “There are so many fields where our technology can make a real difference, and with our fantastic team of scientists, engineers and support staff, we will make many of them happen.”

Photo: © Luxinnovation / Luc Deflorenne

Read more

ESRIC Start-up Support Programme welcomes the five new ventures


Launched in 2021, the Luxembourg-based Start-up Support Programme is the first worldwide incubation programme, entirely dedicated to the field of space resources utilisation.
Read more

“Luxembourg exceeds my expectations”


Korean start-up Posture AI addresses a common health problem: backpain. After developing its artificial intelligence solution using smart posture devices from its base in South Korea, the company has now chosen Luxembourg as its base for targeting the European market and moving forward with the data dimension of its products and services.
Read more

New law introduced in Luxembourg to facilitate the hiring of skilled labour


The new law simplifies the hiring of non-EU nationals and grants family members of third-country nationals holding a residence permit access to the labour market as soon as they arrive in Luxembourg.
Read more

"Supporting the development of the start-up ecosystem in Luxembourg"


Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, discusses the recent startup roadmap “From Seed to Scale” designed to support the ecosystem's continuous expansion as it navigates a new phase of maturity.
Read more

Inflation in Luxembourg continues to rank among the EU’s lowest


Luxembourg recorded the second lowest annual inflation rate in the EU, according to the latest July figures shared by the statistical office of the European Union, Eurostat.
Read more

Resources all news