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Innovation Management

Helmholtz spin-off SurgVision acquired by Bracco Imaging

SurgVision BV, a spin-off of Helmholtz Zentrum München, has been acquired by the Milan-based company Bracco Imaging S.p.A. SurgVision has its own patented technology for fluorescence image-guided surgery, which enables surgeons to detect tumor tissue more accurately and thus to remove it with greater precision. Research activities at the Helmholtz Zentrum München paved the way for this development.


The idea behind the company SurgVision, founded in 2013, is based on the research work conducted by Prof. Vasilis Ntziachristos, Director of the Institute of Biological and Medical Imaging and Director of Bioengineering at the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus of Helmholtz Zentrum München. The company combines methods of fluorescence labeling  and innovative technology for real-time visualization during surgical procedures.

Prior to surgery, tumor tissue is labeled selectively by fluorescence-marked antibodies. During the operation itself, the imaging system measures the fluorescence signals and instantly converts them into precise images, thereby enabling the surgeon to localize the tumor precisely and remove it in its entirety. This method thus helps to preserve healthy tissue and avoid unnecessary repeat surgeries.

Economic value through excellent research

“The acquisition of SurgVision shows clearly the level of sustainable value creation achieved by excellent research at Helmholtz Zentrum München,” explains Dr. Annette Janz, Head of the Department of Innovation Management at Helmholtz Zentrum München. “This development once again demonstrates the intrinsic value of our spin-offs and also marks a great success for the founders of SurgVision and their team.”

Together with its technology transfer partner Ascenion GmbH, the Department of Innovation Management promotes scientific spin-offs so that knowledge gained from research can be used for the benefit of society as soon as possible. Support is provided to enable researchers to develop their projects along the value chain and obtain patent protection for their ideas.

SurgVision is a good example of this. Since its launch in August 2013, the company, which is headquartered in 't Harde in the Netherlands, has made significant progress in the clinical development of its imaging system. Now SurgVision was acquired by Bracco Imaging, a leading global company in the diagnostic business. Bracco operates in more than 100 markets worldwide. Among others, its manufacturing activities are located in Italy, Switzerland, Japan, China and Germany.

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus, allergies and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,500 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 19 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members.