22/06/04

StartUp initiative awards German Founder's Prize

Entrepreneur Reinhold Würth receives award for his lifetime's work.
Antisense Pharma GmbH, Biotechnology Company from Regensburg, is awarded a prize for its revolutionary therapy against cancer in the "Visionary" category.

Berlin. The entrepreneur Reinhold Würth has been awarded the German Founder's Prize for his lifetime's work in Berlin. StartUp, the largest initiative for the promotion of entrepreneurship in Germany, is honoring the "King of Screws" from Baden-Württemberg with this prize for having built up a company that is currently represented in 80 countries around the world.

The German Founder's Prize for outstanding achievements in the building up of new businesses in Germany was also awarded to young enterprises in the categories entitled "Visionary", "Economic Climbers" and "Concepts".

In the "Visionary" category, the company Antisense Pharma GmbH from Regensburg was the winner. The company developed new agents for the treatment of those types of cancer that have so far proved untreatable. In the "Economic Climbers" category, the prize went to Funke & Will AG from Großenhain (Saxony) for its technology developed for the cost-efficient manufacturing of small series of cars. In the "Concept" category, the company promeos GmbH from Erlangen was honored for the development of its technology aimed at increasing the efficiency of heating plants.

The German Founder's Prize is awarded once a year by StartUp and its partners stern, Sparkasse (German savings banks), McKinsey & Company and the TV-channel ZDF in order to honor successful enterprises at different stages of their existence - from their conception right up to their lifetime's achievement.

The German Founder's Prize for lifetime's work was awarded to Professor Reinhold Würth (69) for his exemplary entrepreneurial and social commitment.

In the course of half a century, Reinhold Würth has turned a regionally active screw trade into a globally active, highly competitive trading business, which he manages in an exemplary way. At the same time, Mr. Würth's commitment and his patronage in many areas of cultural life are a tremendous example of responsible entrepreneurship.

At the age of 19, Reinhold Würth took over the management of his father's screw trade and within the first year succeeded in generating a sales increase of 20 percent. Today, Reinhold Würth is known as the international "King of Screws" and his company is one of the largest trading houses with over 56,000 products from the field of connecting and assembly technology. In 2003, the Würth Group achieved a sales volume of EUR 5.45bn as well as the best operating result in its company history. Würth employs more than 45,000 people. The company has come to consist of 300 individual companies in 80 countries, has 2.5 million customers worldwide and has assumed the position of world leader in its trading domain. In addition to this, the entrepreneur has inaugurated numerous prizes, among others the Würth Prize of Jeunesses Musicales Germany (music) and the Würth Literary Prize.

Brothers Hermann Schlingensiepen and Reimar Schlingensiepen were presented with the German Founder's Prize in the "Visionary" category, for their therapy developed to heal those types of cancer that have so far proved untreatable. In this category, entrepreneurial solutions were sought to overcome social challenges- the fight against various types of cancer falling under the brief of social challenges.

The company concentrates on particularly malignant types of cancer, which have so far remained untreatable with the help of operations, laser treatment or chemotherapy. It developed a revolutionary approach in which so-called antisense agents directly impede the most important mechanisms of tumor growth. The therapy attacks the protective cover of tumor cells with which they protect themselves against the immune cells. This way the cover loses its impenetrability and becomes stunted. The company is on the verge of launching this drug on the market.

The German Founder's Prize in the "Economic Climber" category was awarded to Funke & Will AG from Großenhain (Saxony) for the rapid and steady growth of their business.

The starting shot was the presentation of a prototype at the IAA in Frankfurt/Main in 1999. The automotive vehicle - an austerely equipped racing car and the fastest convertible in the world - was only meant to catch the eye of the big manufacturers in the automobile industry.

Today, the business from Saxony operates as a specialist in the production of small automobile series and automotive vehicles for external companies like Laraki - as well as producing its own sports car. By using this manufacturing know-how, external companies can save enormous sums of money in the spheres of development and production. In this way, the company managed to establish itself in a market that was actually already known to be saturated.

In the "Concept" category, promeos GmbH from Erlangen was awarded for its innovative, consumer-oriented business concept and its convincing business plan. The start-up business from Erlangen wants to revolutionize combustion engineering in Germany. It develops so-called pore burners which are supposed to replace customary oil or gas-based firing plants.

The newly developed pore reactor is more powerful than conventional burner systems, burns more homogeneously, allows a more compact construction and works with low toxic emissions.

The prizewinners in the individual categories will receive individual, tailor-made coaching by McKinsey & Company.

The German Founder's Prize is a project belonging to the StartUp initiative of the partners stern, Sparkasse (German savings banks), McKinsey and the TV-channel ZDF. It is promoted by Harry Roels from RWE, Dr. Bernd Kundrun from Gruner+Jahr and Dr. Hartmut Mehdorn from DB (Deutsche Bahn).

Information and photos of the prizewinners: Nadine Helterhoff, Tel: (0 30) 2 02 25-169, e-mail: nadine.helterhoff@dsgv.de on the Internet: www.startup-initiative.de (Press)

Photos of the awards will be made available per ots on June 23, 2004 from 9 a.m. onwards, for downloading at www.bildschoen-berlin.com from 10 a.m. onwards and for downloading at http://bilderdienst.zdf.de/presse/gruenderpreis from midday onwards.