“It’s an honour! And fun to get attention,” says Per Kjellin, founder, owner and technology manager at Promimic.
Almost 15 years ago, he was a PhD student in materials and surface chemistry at Chalmers and, together with his colleague Martin Andersson, developed methods for producing nanoparticles of silver and calcium carbonate. However, at a conference they heard a researcher talk about the mineral hydroxylapatite, that is found naturally in the form of nanoparticles in bone. If it were possible to manufacture such nanoparticles synthetically, there would, according to the researcher, be a large market in medical technology.
With the idea of a business opportunity in the back of their minds, they decided to try their production method on hydroxylapatite. They obtained good results, applied for patents, and founded the company Promimic, via the incubator Chalmers Innovation, now part of Chalmers Ventures.
Materials that mimic the bone's natural structure are attractive as surface coatings on implants, as they get the implant to integrate both faster and stronger.
"And the most attractive thing with our concept is that it is so easy to apply industrially. Dip the implant in a solution, place it in an oven for five minutes – and the surface layer is ready,” explains Per Kjellin.
While Martin Andersson stayed at Chalmers for an academic career, Per Kjellin soon started to work entirely for Promimic. With great determination, he has developed the innovation from idea to product, and built Promimic into a biomaterial company with international operations and sales. Since 2016, the surface layer has been on a commercial dental implant that has been used in tens of thousands of people in several countries.
“The surface layer causes more bone to form around the implant in the beginning, which is an advantage during the critical integration phase. The greatest benefit is in patients with impaired bone formation,” says Per Kjellin.
Today, Promimic has eight employees, half of whom have a PhD degree. The company now has three more patents and several new implant surfaces are under development. The next step is to enter the orthopaedic field. Here, Per Kjellin envisions that, among other things, their surface layers can be useful for fusing two vertebrae after surgical fixation in the spinal column.
About the innovation award
The Karin Markides’ innovation award is awarded to a current or former student of Chalmers who has made a significant contribution to Chalmers’ innovation and utilisation in research and education, and contributed to long-term sustainable development. The prize is awarded in conjunction with Chalmers’ doctoral conferment ceremony, which this year takes place on 2 June.
Text: Ingela Roos