Darmstadt, Germany – In a significant event at Hannover Messe 2024, Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Dr. Robert Habeck visited the exhibition of MAGNOTHERM, a Darmstadt deep tech startup building a sustainable magnetic cooling solution. The meeting on April 23rd highlighted the German government’s commitment to supporting the deep tech sector, and the crucial role of startups in shaping the country’s industrial future. 

During his visit, Vice Chancellor Dr. Habeck interacted with MAGNOTHERM’s groundbreaking magnetically cooled refrigeration device, the POLARIS beverage cooler. He signed the exterior of the refrigerator in a symbolic gesture of support. As a sign of gratitude, MAGNOTHERM presented engraved reusable metal ice cubes as a gift and physical manifestation of the aligned values central to both the company and the Vice Chancellor’s policies. 

Timur Sirman, CEO and co-founder of MAGNOTHERM, shared insights into the opportunities and challenges faced by the company as a German-based deep tech startup. The two also discussed the ongoing needs of the sector and ways in which the growth of companies like MAGNOTHERM can help build a stronger economic future and global sustainability image for Germany.  

One of the biggest challenges MAGNOTHERM shared with Robert Habeck is sourcing materials. Sirman explained: “While we have demonstrated POLARIS as a proof of concept and evidence of technological viability, scaling up and commercializing our magnetic refrigeration solution presents significant challenges. Key among these is securing a reliable supply of magnetocaloric material, particularly LaFeSi, which is crucial for enhancing energy efficiency and reducing production costs. Despite the availability of alternatives like Gadolinium, LaFeSi stands out for its superior performance. Our expertise, derived from the Functional Materials Department of TU Darmstadt, provides us with a deep understanding of these materials, yet transitioning from lab-scale production to industrial-scale remains a formidable barrier. Ironically, while German ‘hidden champions’ possess the necessary production know-how, establishing partnerships for large-scale production has been challenging due to the nascent market presence of our technology—a classic chicken-and-egg problem. Vice Chancellor Habeck’s efforts to foster collaborations between startups and established corporates are therefore timely and crucial. More courageous investments and a stronger entrepreneurial spirit are needed to bridge these gaps, enabling not just MAGNOTHERM’s refrigeration solutions but also broader applications like server cooling, air-conditioning, and heat pumps, all vital applications for achieving net-zero emissions.” 
Regarding the impact of this high-level meeting on MAGNOTHERM, Sirman stated: “We set an internal goal last year to generate conversations within German nationwide political circles. Meeting Robert Habeck is as good as it gets in this regard. We are eager to follow up on this with future interactions with the ministry and other leaders. Robert Habeck often meets with large companies, so it was very special for his delegation to meet with several startups in Hannover. To get this visibility and attention as a small company was important, because we need an entire ecosystem around us to grow. There is so much potential in startups and deep tech, and we need to harness this potential in order to build the next industry which will maintain and grow our economy here in Europe, as it will not automatically maintain itself. Germany needs new industries, technologies, and companies; This starts with companies like ours who right now have futuristic, expensive, and complex technology, that in the future will be commonplace, like solar panels and LED lighting. Robert Habeck visiting us elevates the message that startups are important because we are the future of Germany.” 

The visit marks a significant recognition of the potential and economic importance of startups like MAGNOTHERM in the evolving landscape of European industry. As MAGNOTHERM continues to develop and refine its technologies, the support from figures such as Vice Chancellor Habeck is invaluable in ensuring the growth of the deep tech sector and the economic future of Germany.