Cerstin Richter-Kotowski, Alexandra Knauer, Burkard Dregger and Roswitha Knauer after the visit presenting Dr. Knauer's disinfectant (photo: Jacqueline Lorenz)
Dr. Knauer's disinfactant for hands (photo: KNAUER/DF)
Dr. Yannick Krauke took the guests for a tour through the central lab (photo: Jacqueline Lorenz)
Hightech made in Berlin-Zehlendorf – more important in the crisis than ever
On May 13th, 2020, Burkard Dregger, member of the Berlin House of Representatives and chairman of the CDU parliamentary group in Berlin, and Cerstin Richter-Kotowski, district mayor of the district Steglitz-Zehlendorf, visited KNAUER Wissenschaftliche Geräte GmbH to get an up-to-date picture of the situation of the family business from the life sciences industry.
The company from Berlin-Zehlendorf, known as a "Hidden Champion" which is represented worldwide with its innovative products, has adapted its production to the corona crisis and – for the time being until October – is also producing disinfectants according to WHO prescriptions and protective visors from the 3D printer at the Knauer factory; for its own use, but also for the urgent needs of local institutions such as schools, daycare centres and refugee accommodation.
However, in these days of the pandemic, Knauer's liquid chromatography devices are of particular importance.
All over the world, they are used in research institutions, laboratories, universities and large medical companies that are working feverishly on PCR tests and the development of vaccines against the virus in the fight against COVID-19.
Supporting research with high-tech laboratory instruments
"How do we get out of the crisis, what can Berlin as a business location do to help?" asks group leader Dregger, whose core competence is economic policy. In order to find a satisfactory answer, he holds talks with meaningful and experienced companies like Knauer and seeks advice from experts who have both feet on the ground in economic life – like managing director Alexandra Knauer. Dregger explains that one wants to have a say in the development of the crisis and be prepared against it instead of just reacting to it.
The Knauer company is well prepared, even if the export business is currently stagnating. Major orders are to be fulfilled here despite the crisis. Already well-positioned in the social media field before the crisis, Knauer was able to react quickly and remain present: in a virtual lab salon, with virtual seminars or at the virtual trade fair booth. – A temporary solution, because Alexandra Knauer also knows: "We are all social beings." A personal conversation at a real trade fair stand can achieve much more than a virtual one. And group leader Dregger adds: "Trade fair events are existential for Berlin."
Meanwhile, Knauer is successfully relying on the importance of its high-quality measuring instruments, which are already playing a decisive role in many laboratories and form a basis for successfully advancing research results in the fight against the corona virus:
Knauer's liquid chromatography instruments can separate mixtures of substances. In this way it can be determined analytically whether a substance is contained in the mixture and how much of it.
Chromatographic separation can also help to purify a target substance and separate impurities. – It is indispensable for achieving a high level of purity as required in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients or highly sensitive test substances.
For corona research, this means that the PCR test, with which an acute SARS-CoV-2 infection can be detected using virus-specific oligonucleotides, is produced in the synthesis laboratory. Liquid chromatography is used to purify the oligonucleotides. – The same applies to research and the production of vaccines, which – in order to minimise avoidable side effects – should be available as pure end products as possible. Liquid chromatography is also used in research regarding the virus itself and its protein functional units in order to obtain "pure" components for structural investigations.
We separate molecules and connect people
... is the motto according to which managing director Alexandra Knauer has been running the family business since 2000, which her parents Roswitha and Dr. Herbert Knauer founded in 1962.
Sustainability, lived diversity, ecological responsibility and the support of women are topics, Alexandra Knauer absolutely cares about, which all 140 employees experience in the most pleasant way every day. The down-to-earth Managing Director received multiple awards, and on May 6th the Federal Minister of Economics and Energy, Peter Altmaier, presented her with the certificate of another award: She was selected by a jury as a model entrepreneur for the initiative "FRAUEN unternehmen" ("Women Entrepreneuring"), which aims to strengthen the founding spirit of women and girls.
The fact that Knauer products "Made in Berlin-Zehlendorf" are used for Corona research is not least due to the possibility of adapting Knauer standard devices to different customer requirements. – And probably also because of the uncomplicated, holistic Knauer service system. District Mayor Richter-Kotowski puts it in a nutshell: The family-owned company with a heart is known far beyond its Zehlendorf location for its particularly flexible service and good specialists.
Jacqueline Lorenz, freelance journalist and author, wrote this report for the Gazette Zehlendorf