Our Team

Meet the founders

We are a diverse mix of scientists and engineers who believe that we can help you to change the world using optogenetics.

Dr. Kathrin Brenker

Cofounder, CEO

Luis Köbele

Cofounder, CTO

Kareem Mansour

Freelance Engineer

Emilija Bostogaite

Hardware Dev.

Philipp Helwig

Hardware Dev.

Maximilian Willaredt

Hardware Dev.

Dr. Kathrin Brenker

Founder Story!

I am a former optogenetics scientist and during my PhD, I struggled with the chronic lack of suitable illumination tools for opto-research! I was the only opto-researcher in an otherwise hardcore immunology research group. So, I had to figure everything out by myself: Where do I get light sources? How much power do I need? Why do my cells die after illumination? How can I prevent heating of my cells during illumination? How can I adapt my light sources to different experimental setups?

Although a fun learning experience, it took forever until I was actually able to generate results for my thesis. Does every lab have to go through this tedious process of light titration and light source improvisation? Probably yes. This needed to change.

So, I pitched this idea in front of some people, then some more people and finally had the confidence to write a startup grant for opto biolabs. It turned out many people were excited about optogenetics and how a small company from the black forest could have a global impact in this research area.

It was clear that I needed help for this project. A LOT of help. I still sometimes wonder why Luis decided to join opto biolabs and become my cofounder, but it was definitely the best thing that could have happened. We launched the pxONE and optoWELL, survived the pandemic, during which we developed a dozen more product ideas that we want to realize in the years to come.

With our products, we want to establish standards for optogenetic illumination and experimentation. Our customizable light devices enable software-controlled illumination output. You can compare – or even exchange – illumination protocols with your direct colleagues or your collaborator on a different continent. I also hope that our devices will make optogenetic research more accessible for smaller labs that don’t have years of experience building their own LED-devices.

Our History

About Us

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in the company!

What happened

  • We received the EXIST Startup funding which was the initiation of opto biolabs
  • We won the CYBERONE High-tech Award in the category LifeSciences & HealthCare
  • Our founder Kathrin invited to give a talk about optogenetics during the TEDx Heidelberg event
  • We won 3rd place during the international SPIE startup challenge in San Francisco
  • We received the Junge Innovatoren Funding
  • Our founder Kathrin was listed as MIT innovator under 35 – Europe
  • We received the Attract research grant to develop optogenetic cell sorting!
  • We launched our first product! The pxONE for optogenetic flow cytometry!
  • Matthias Bissinger, CEO of Bissinger Medizintechnik, joined us as an investor! Through his investment, we received the Pre-Seed BW Funding from the LBBW. We are grateful for Matthias’ trust and his investments was essential for the product development of the optoWELL illumination device.
  • Dr. Philipp Baaske, CEO of NanoTemper Technologies, joins us as an investor! Together with him, we received the Pre-Seed BW Funding from the LBBW. We are so thankful for Philipp’s trust and his investment allowed us to focus on product development of the optoSORT system and product launch of the optoWELL during the pandemic. 
  • We launched the optoWELL device for flexible illumination of the 24 well culture plates!
  • We moved into our own office space at the Freiburg Innovation Center (FRIZ)! Finally, we have lots of room for development, brainstorming, production and are amongst other tech-startups from Freiburg. It’s a fantastic, collaborative environment!
Our Mission

Opto biolabs’ mission is to build smart illumination devices for optogenetic research!

We believe that optogenetic research and its applications will change the world in various ways – from the way we treat patients to the way we produce food in a sustainable manner. Switching biological processes with light will revolutionize the life sciences, enabling more precisely targeted, better dosed and faster scientific experiments.

We aspire to help life scientist across the globe to perform better, easier and more efficient experiments to help them reach their goals faster!

Our investors

Funded and supported by our partners and friends!

We received our first start up grant in 2018: The EXIST Gründerstipendium. We have been lucky enough to receive funding through Junge Innovatoren, EU-Attract and the Pre-Seed BW Co-investment of the state bank Baden-Württemberg.

Our values

Upholding our values is important to us

We are one team

We spend a lot of time together at work, during conferences and sometimes for fun. Building a company from the ground takes a lot of courage from everyone in the team as we are constantly learning new things. Trust and respect are essential ingredients for each of us to be able to leave our comfort zones to tackle new tasks, knowing that the team has your back. A success for the company is always a success for the whole team.

Whatever you do – do it with passion!

We believe that almost anything is possible with a positive, passionate mindset! Real passion is contagious for the whole team and inspires us to give it all. We love what we do so do it with passion.

Stay curios!

Yes, we sometimes end up discussing the feeding habits of orca whales for three hours but it’s okay! We are still scientists at heart and genuinely curious people. We cultivate and retain this curiosity, because it is the superpower from which open-mindedness arises.

Diversity makes happy!

We consider diversity an asset rather than a challenge! With close proximity to the University of Freiburg, we welcome international students and love to be exposed to different cultures, mindsets and – of course – international food 😊

Focus on our customers

Our customers are the super heroes in this equation! They are the ones developing novel therapies, novel optogenetic tools, novel bioproduction processes and more! We love the work of our customers and want toserve them as reliable partner in their journey to change the world.


We want to have a large impact on the success of optogenetic research and a small impact on our planet. We try to waste as little as possible by reusing wrapping material for product shipments as well as by planning for maximum efficiency in the development and production process.. Each device is hand made in Germany with very high diligence and a focus on quality and durability. High yield manufacturing processes limit waste to the absolute minimum. We are always looking to improve and aspire to adopt new and more efficient processes wherever possible. If you have suggestions on how we can be more resource sensitive, please reach out!



We received several awards for our technology and business idea since we started opto biolabs in 2018