The optogenetics innovation network, initiated by the LZH, was launched this summer under the banner "Optics meet genetic engineering" to provide answers to questions on the potential offered by optogenetics and the form that future business fields and sales markets might take. A two-day event in Hannover on November 28 and 29, 2017 offers stakeholders from various sectors of technology the opportunity to come together to pool their expertise and generate synergies. Technical, biological and medical know-how needs to be combined to facilitate new applications in biomedicine, biotechnology and active ingredient development in the new field of optogenetics using light-controlled proteins and biomolecules.

"As optogenetics is still so new, all stakeholders need to think beyond their existing contacts and approaches," urges Dr. Dag Heinemann, organizer of the innovation network. Dr. Heinemann, who also heads the Biophotonics group at the LZH, is pursuing an ambitious goal: "We'll be bringing together the key players from optics and genetic engineering in the optogenetics innovation network to open up the still unfamiliar territory and lay the foundations for new partnerships." The optogenetics innovation network should be of particular interest to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they will have the opportunity to get to know potential partners from the business and science communities and thus discover new areas of business and sales markets.

The LZH sees itself as having a linking role in this area. "We've been working with partners from the two sectors for a number of years," says Dr. Heinemann. "As an application-focused research institute, we bring experience from collaborating with SMEs and from technology transfer." The optogenetics innovation network is supported by PhotonicNet, BioRegioN and hannoverimpuls. It is also being sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the "Innovationsforen Mittelstand" initiative.