Founder-CEO Interview Series


Detlef Schumann

Dr. Detlef Schumann is an esteemed life science executive. He assumed the role of CEO at TETEC in 2020, bringing with him a rich history in cell & gene therapy, biotechnology, pharma, ATMPs and medical devices. He received his Pharmacy degree and PhD in Regenerative Medicine from the University of Regensburg, before continuing with his postdoc in various reputable universities in Singapore and the USA, such as MIT and Harvard. 

Founder-CEO Interview Series

with Detlef Schumann

Could you tell us more about yourself?

Quite early in my life, I got introduced to the world of big pharma. It was a fascinating experience which helped me in my decision to study pharmacy. In the early phase of my study, people started to think about “tissue engineering” and innovative “drug delivery” solutions.

By coincidence, I read about a young surgeon who just returned from the USA and was about to establish a team to continue his research in personalized stem cell technologies towards cartilage reconstruction. I had an inspiring discussion with him and decided to join his team for PhD, prepared for a startup company and helped to set up the Center for Medical Biotechnologies.  After several international business assignments and now 25 years later I have the pleasure to be the CEO/CFO of Tetec AG focusing on innovative therapies for cartilage reconstruction, immunotherapy and beyond.

You’re involved in 2 companies under the B. Braun umbrella. Tell us more about TETEC and CeGat.


Since the foundation of TETEC in 2000 as a biotech spin-off of the University of Tübingen and the NMI (The Natural and Medical Science Institute) our mission has been to develop, manufacture, and distribute ATMPs in the field of cell therapies. Today, we are leaders in the European market for cartilage regeneration, respective cell therapies, and suitable biomaterials. TETEC AG is an affiliate of AESCULAP AG and a member of the B. Braun group.

At TETEC AG, we apply and believe in the innumerable possibilities of cell-based therapies. With NOVOCART® 3D and NOVOCART® Inject the company has brought two proprietary products, opening new therapeutic options for patients with cartilage defects in the knee to restore their quality of daily life and ability to participate in sports activities.

Since 2003 we have manufactured over 28,000 individual ATMPs and applied for European market authorization last year. Furthermore, we are preparing the commercial launch in Europe as well as the first steps towards the Asian Pacific market.

We have strong assets in ATMP development and large manufacturing capacities, we are operating under full GMP manufacturing licenses and ISO 13485 certification.

Besides the orthobiologics business, we successfully offer our extensive experience in the fields of cell and gene therapy, ATMP, personalized immunotherapy and bio-printed tissue product solutions to pharma and biotech partners as CDMO service providers.   

CeGaT GmbH 

In 2009 CeGaT was founded as the first company to combine high-throughput sequencing with human genetic diagnostics. Our vision is to provide the appropriate approach for each patient to find the cause of a genetic disease and thus enable diagnosis and targeted treatment. DNA and RNA sequences from diseased or healthy tissue of humans, animals and plants are analyzed. CeGaT offers interpretation of the data and is a contact for private individuals, physicians, and researchers.

Our offerings range from Genetic Diagnostics to Research and Pharma Solutions: 

Regenerative medicine as a topic is picking up steam. What is the growth trend like?

In my opinion cell and gene therapies represent the future of modern healthcare. Big pharma as well as numerous small to medium sized biotech companies are investing significant resources into the development of new cell and gene-based solutions for still unmet clinical needs. We see a double-digit annual growth in the field with an expected revenue of about 82.24 billion USD in 2032. 

It seems that total knee replacements or total hip replacements are recommended quite readily. Why aren’t more people taking advantage of solutions like the one TETEC is offering? 

Up to now, we have sold our products only in Germany under hospital exemption §4b AMG. Last year’s submission of our excellent clinical data to the EMA for European approval will enable us to sell into the European market. Preparations for the European launch are ongoing.

In parallel, we have an active US-based trial running. After successful approval of our BLA by FDA we will enter the US market as soon as possible. 

The good news is that the new generation of surgeons is more and more open to innovative cell therapies. Using regular workshops (digital and in person), hosted expert panels, as well as in-person training we help our customers and their patients to benefit from long-term effective solutions which require a small change from current medical training standards.

What inspired you to do a PhD and postdoc after receiving a pharmacy degree?

At the end of my study, I had to decide if I accept the offers by pharma companies, start my pharmacy or continue to further innovate in the field of modern drug delivery and/or tissue engineering. As described before I got inspired by my exchange with the young surgeon to enter the field of “Tissue Engineering” using innovative human-derived stem cell applications and their optimization by newly designed mechanobiological stimulation devices (bioreactors). With two teams located at the hospital as well as at the university we lived the multidisciplinary approach. This led to the creation of a unique Center of Medical Technologies in which all disciplines with expertise in the field of regenerative medicine worked together towards translational solutions for unmet clinical needs. 

What was your experience at MIT and Harvard like? 

As an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, I had my defined field of research in Osteoarthritis and Mechanobiology. I searched for ways to interfere early in the genetic cascade of the disease progression (Osteoarthritis). 

Working together with such a wealth of like-minded individuals at Harvard and MIT was amazing. 

Every day I got inspired by the atmosphere, the cross-functional network and the spirit of creation and innovation. Being able to access the latest tools and equipment as well as the constant exchange with top researchers enabled me to grow beyond myself.

But most important was the possibility of creating a long-lasting network with the existing and future elite in biomedical, pharma and biotech. 

How did it compare to your previous experience in Singapore at NUS/NUH/NUSTEP?

My time in Singapore is hard to compare with Cambridge, MA but still has many similarities.

I had the opportunity to be in Singapore at a time when cell therapy and other innovative technologies like 3D manufacturing of implants as well as bioreactors were a strong focus. It was amazing to experience the spirit and the drive to innovate in these fields. The atmosphere can be described as the spirit of pioneers but in a highly professional and structured manner. 

The government invested significantly in the field of stem cell technologies and novel medical solutions with a strong interest in high-value output. Having been part of it still makes me proud and thankful.

Given the years in research, at what point did you realize that the business aspects were something that you’d shine in?

The move from academia to industry was relatively easy. The wish to improve the lives of patients with innovative solutions has always been a strong driver for me. When I was asked to build the European, Middle East and Asian Pacific market for regenerative product solutions after our acquisition of Kensey Nash (by DSM Biomedical) I felt honoured and was more than happy to jump into my new role. Especially the strong focus on the Japanese market was helping me to widen my horizon.  Overall, we were very successful in the European and AP market expansion which confirmed my decision to focus my future career on commercial aspects.  While supporting the buildup of DSM Biomedical it was great to be able to use the combination of my technical background with my commercial experience to evaluate a wide range of M&A and license opportunities for the benefit of further growth. 

Who or what has shaped who you are? 

I was inspired by many colleagues and friends during my career. Being a natural networker, I love to learn from others but also to share and shape. 

What are you looking forward to?

After more than 30 years in the field, I am looking forward to making the best use of my experience in cell and gene therapy to implement and commercialize novel, innovative, and effective product solutions for pharma and/or biotech companies. 

What is one interesting fact about yourself that few people know of (a hobby, etc.)? 

Being passionate Tango dancers, my wife and I have spent our honeymoon in Buenos Aires dancing at Milongas night and day for two weeks in a row. 

Do you have any final remarks/advice to share?

Stay open-minded, listen, and try to learn and think out of the box as much as you can. Keep your passion for the things you love. 


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