Press Release

ZEISS Ventures invests in life science start-up InSphero to drive 3D cell culture research

Strategic investment is closely linked to ZEISS Research Microscopy Solutions and its capabilities in automated, high-resolution imaging and 3D image analysis

31 March 2023 · 2 min read

Oberkochen, Germany | 31 March 2023 |  ZEISS Group

ZEISS is investing in life science start-up InSphero to further advance the adoption of 3D microtissues in research and drug development. InSphero AG, a pioneer in 3D spheroid and cell-based assays in pharmaceutical drug discovery and safety testing, has raised an eight-figure amount in its latest funding round. InSphero will utilize the proceeds to commercialize its cryo-preservation technology to enable further growth and scalability. ZEISS Ventures is participating in the financing round along with internal and external investors.

InSphero’s comprehensive solutions for preclinical drug safety and efficacy testing are based on 3D microtissues, which are phenotypic models of the smallest functional unit of a tissue or organ. These drug-discovery and testing platforms combine scalable 3D technology, ISO quality-controlled 3D human tissue models, 3D-optimized media, as well as tailored assay services and support. Drug discovery partners immediately gain access to the depth and breadth of InSphero’s experience in developing and applying 3D models for liver toxicology, metabolic diseases and oncology.

ZEISS Ventures invests in life science start-up InSphero to drive 3D cell culture research.

ZEISS Ventures invests in life science start-up InSphero to drive 3D cell culture research.

“The market for complex 3D in-vitro models is very attractive and is experiencing new tailwinds with the FDA Modernization Act. This Act elevates alternative methods for drug development to the same level as animal testing. InSphero has uniquely positioned itself with its highly industrialized platform solution to address this market opportunity,” says Gerrit Schulte, Head of ZEISS Ventures.

Dr. Jan Lichtenberg, CEO and Co-founder of InSphero, says: “The widespread use of 3D microtissues following the ratification of the FDA Modernization Act requires efficient, automation-compatible, and scalable 3D models quickly. Our ground-breaking, cryopreserved ARCTis 3D Microtissue portfolio offers a storable, always ready-to-use solution to efficient and insightful compound testing. We are on the way to becoming the biggest 3D microtissue biobank in the world.”

“The strategic investment in InSphero is perfectly aligned with our strategic initiative – Life Science Industrialization. We will leverage the ZEISS know-how and establish our technologies as a key enabler for widely adopted and standardized workflows in applied life sciences and healthcare. We look forward to intensive collaboration with InSphero to provide customers with end-to-end workflows,” explains Dr. Michael Albiez, Head of ZEISS Research Microscopy Solutions.

About InSphero

InSphero is the pioneer of industrial-grade and scalable 3D-cell-based assay solutions and scaffold-free 3D organ-on-a-chip technology. With its efficient and automation-compatible technology platform, InSphero empowers researchers in pharmaceutical and biotechnology to successful decision-making by accurately rebuilding the human physiology in vitro. Its robust and precisely engineered suite of 3D InSight human tissue platforms are used by major pharmaceutical companies worldwide to increase efficiency in drug discovery and safety testing. The company specializes in liver toxicology, metabolic diseases (e.g., T1 & T2 diabetes and NAFLD & NASH liver disease), and oncology (with a focus on immuno-oncology and PDX models). The scalable Akura technology underlying the company’s 3D InSight Discovery and Safety Platforms includes 96 and 384-well plate formats and the Akura Flow organ-on-a-chip system to drive efficient innovation throughout all phases of drug development.

Press contact Jörg Nitschke

Head of Corporate Brand, Communications and Public Affairs


ZEISS is an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the fields of optics and optoelectronics. In the previous fiscal year, the ZEISS Group generated annual revenue totaling 8.8 billion euros in its four segments Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, Industrial Quality & Research, Medical Technology and Consumer Markets (status: 30 September 2022).

For its customers, ZEISS develops, produces and distributes highly innovative solutions for industrial metrology and quality assurance, microscopy solutions for the life sciences and materials research, and medical technology solutions for diagnostics and treatment in ophthalmology and microsurgery. The name ZEISS is also synonymous with the world's leading lithography optics, which are used by the chip industry to manufacture semiconductor components. There is global demand for trendsetting ZEISS brand products such as eyeglass lenses, camera lenses and binoculars.

With a portfolio aligned with future growth areas like digitalization, healthcare and Smart Production and a strong brand, ZEISS is shaping the future of technology and constantly advancing the world of optics and related fields with its solutions. The company's significant, sustainable investments in research and development lay the foundation for the success and continued expansion of ZEISS' technology and market leadership. ZEISS invests 13 percent of its revenue in research and development – this high level of expenditure has a long tradition at ZEISS and is also an investment in the future.

With over 38,000 employees, ZEISS is active globally in almost 50 countries with around 30 production sites, 60 sales and service companies and 27 research and development facilities (status: 30 September 2022). Founded in 1846 in Jena, the company is headquartered in Oberkochen, Germany. The Carl Zeiss Foundation, one of the largest foundations in Germany committed to the promotion of science, is the sole owner of the holding company, Carl Zeiss AG.

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