Entrepreneurs Miguel Molina Romero and Pedro Gómez

“We want to solve humanity’s biggest problems”

For TUM Alumni Pedro Gómez and Miguel Molina Romero, no challenge is too daunting and no goal too ambitious. With their innovative AI-driven MRI technology, they want to bring about fundamental transformations in the food and agricultural industries.

In 2014, Pedro Gómez and Miguel Molina Romero got to know each other in TUM’s program for doctoral students – BERTI. As part of the program, the Marie Curie Initial Training Network BERTI: Biomedical Imaging & Informatics – European Research and Training Initiative, they received scientific coaching at the Munich School of BioEngineering. Additionally, they had the support of a mentor from industry partner GE Global Research’s research center at TUM Campus Garching.

Pedro Gómez and Miguel Molina Romero quickly realized how much their objectives and passions aligned. “We are driven by big challenges,” they emphasize. “When we are presented with a difficult problem whose solution holds the promise of enormous positive impacts on society and the environment, we are all in.” Their goal was to couple MRI imaging with AI-powered image analysis and to unlock new uses outside the medical arena.

Sustainability on Various Levels

What began in 2017 as a research project at TUM under the name Orbem is now a highly regarded and multi-award-winning high-tech start-up. Developed by Pedro Gómez and Miguel Molina Romero in cooperation with Reproductive Biotechnology specialist Maria Laparidou, the AI-driven imaging technology enables contactless examination and classification of objects. The prototype Genus is much cheaper, faster and more versatile than conventional MRI methods. It can be used, for example, in the poultry industry or in the agricultural industry.

By using the scanner, the poultry industry is able to determine whether eggs have been fertilized or not. As a result, billions of unfertilized eggs do not end up in the trash, but on the breakfast table. Thus, egg production can sustainably be increased. The founders are focusing in particular on countries where it has not been possible to produce enough eggs to feed the population.

TUM provided us not only with the knowledge we needed to set up our own business, but above all with an entrepreneurial spirit.

The technology is also set to be used in a forward-looking way in the agricultural industry. Fruit and vegetable plants, for example, can be analyzed to determine their water content. Subsequently, the plants that require significantly less irrigation due to their own water content can be cultivated in a targeted manner. “This sustainability on various levels is extremely important to us and is what sets us apart,” the TUM Alumni stress. “Our technology is creating a sustainable future where food production is as efficient as it needs to be in order to feed everyone without depleting tomorrow’s resources.”

The MRI scanner Genus developed by TUM spin-off Orbem.

MRI scanner Genus examines and classifies objects without the need for actual contact. The possible applications are manifold. Currently, the start-up is focusing on the poultry industry. In the future, the innovative technology could be used throughout the food industry, for example in quality control (Picture: Orbem GmbH).

Saving the World With Perseverance

Pedro Gómez and Miguel Molina Romero’s actions are characterized not only by great conviction for their cause, but also by profound perseverance, which TUM has instilled in them. “Science is a continuous search for questions and answers in an environment of high uncertainty. Starting a high-tech company is not that different,” they explain. “In numerous courses on entrepreneurship, public speaking and other soft skills, TUM prepared us for this environment and taught us to be persistent.”

The young entrepreneurs are also particularly grateful to TUM for the wide range of specific support they received when launching their start-up. They consider TUM ForTe – TUM Office for Research and Innovation and the TUM Start-up Consulting as crucial in the fact that they were able to obtain a seven-digit grant through the EXIST – Business Start-Up Grant of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. “TUM provided us not only with the knowledge we needed to set up our own business, but above all with an entrepreneurial spirit,” Pedro Gómez and Miguel Molina Romero state. ” Without TUM, there would be no Orbem.”