The Fraunhofer IGB develops formulations for various application areas such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food and crop protection.

Functional particles (nano- and microparticles) and hydrogels are used as release systems for active and effect substances. Low-molecular substances such as fragrances or vitamins, but also proteins, antibodies or enzymes can be formulated while retaining their (bio)activity.

We use biomaterials such as alginate, chitosan, gelatine, biocompatible materials and commercially available polymers. The choice of material is made in close cooperation with the user with regard to the requirements and taking into account the currently valid guidelines.

Applications and areas of use

  • Formulation of drugs for targeted (e.g. intranasal) transport and controlled release
  • Formulation of vitamins, fragrances and cosmetic effect substances
  • Encapsulation to mask unpleasant flavors (e.g. in pharmaceuticals, food supplements or animal feed)
  • Encapsulation of pesticides and fertilizers for controlled release over a longer period of time
  • Integration of effect substance-laden particles in textile materials for improved functional properties (comfort, performance and protection, e.g. with antimicrobial effect or integrated insect protection)

Formulation techniques

At the Fraunhofer IGB, we use particulate active ingredient formulations, among other things, to solve these challenges.

Particle production techniques and their typical particle sizes.
Particle production techniques and their typical particle sizes. At the Fraunhofer IGB, the technologies outlined in red are established.
Laboratory spray dryer
Laboratory spray dryer with two- and three-substance nozzle for encapsulating soluble and insoluble active ingredients and effect substances.

Encapsulation of active ingredients and effect substances

This means that we encapsulate the active ingredient in polymer-based functional nano- or microparticles. Encapsulation allows us to "package" low-molecular substances such as fragrances or vitamins, but also proteins, antibodies and enzymes - while fully preserving their (bio)activity. Encapsulation enables the formation of a three-dimensional protective space for the active ingredient, as it is separated from its micro-environment by the surrounding shell. In this way, sensitive substances can be protected from oxidation, for example, and reactive agents from chemical reactions.


Spray drying

Spray drying is an established process in many industrial sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food science, chemistry and materials science. A solution, suspension or emulsion is converted into a solid powder form in a single process step. Especially for sensitive substances such as hormones, proteins or vitamins, spray drying is a very gentle method of drying and is also suitable for microencapsulation


Polymerization techniques

At the Fraunhofer IGB, customer-specific nano- and microparticles in the range of 200 nm – 10 μm are produced from commercially available polymers, depending on the problem at hand. Various polymerization techniques are used, such as miniemulsion polymerization or emulsifier-free emulsion polymerization.


Adjusting the release kinetics

By varying the particle size, the degree of loading, the molecular weight and the ratio of hydrophilic and hydrophobic monomer units, we can influence the release kinetics of the encapsulated substances in a customized manner. In this way, releases over very long periods (Ultralong Drug Release, ULDr) of three to four months can also be realized. Biodegradable compounds are of particular interest here, as these are completely metabolized or decomposed after their application in the body or in the environment.

Modified biopolymers

Modifiable biopolymer (here: gelatin).
© Fraunhofer IGB
Modifiable biopolymer (here: gelatin).

By means of chemical modification, we specifically customize biopolymers such as gelatine, chitosan or inulin to suit different requirements depending on the area of application. By introducing a wide range of chemical groups, we can thus modify, for example, the viscosity, solubility or charge of the biopolymer in a targeted manner, enabling processes to be tailored more sustainably and efficiently.

Modified biopolymers

Surface modification – Efficient drug targeting

Image of the particle size distribution of microparticles using light microscopy.
Image of the particle size distribution of microparticles using light microscopy.

The polymer nanoparticles can be additionally functionalized on the surface for complex applications. For example, the particles produced at Fraunhofer IGB are modified on their surface via free carboxy groups using conventional coupling methods for the targeted transport of active ingredients in the body (drug targeting). Proteins have already been successfully bound to the nano- and microparticle surface via carbodiimide couplings and other cross-linking chemicals. The design of the particle surface aims to keep the proportion of unspecific binding very low. In addition to biodegradable nano- and microparticles, we are developing biosynthetic nanoparticles that simulate the conditions on cell surfaces (NANOCYTES®).

NANOCYTES® – Bifunctional core-shell particles

Application examples

Potential for medicine

The encapsulation of active ingredients opens up innovative paths for medical applications, from personalized therapies to precise diagnostic methods. With encapsulation techniques, we can develop particles for the treatment of various diseases that are able to deliver active ingredients into cells in a targeted manner. The encapsulation of cancer drugs in particles also enables the targeted delivery of active substances to cancer cells, thereby protecting healthy tissue and increasing the efficiency of the therapy. In vaccine development, the encapsulation of vaccine components can increase stability and control the release of active ingredients for an improved immune response.

Tailor-made formulations for agricultural food and raw material production

Plant protection products such as pesticides, fungicides and herbicides as well as plant growth regulators are used in agriculture to protect plants from diseases and pests and to increase crop yields. Agricultural production also has a direct impact on soil, water and the atmosphere. Modern and sustainable agriculture that conserves resources, protects the environment and is economical at the same time is possible when active ingredients and effect substances are applied in a customized formulation.

Encapsulation protects active and effect substances from external influences on the one hand, while on the other hand we are able to release the encapsulated substances in a targeted manner as required thanks to the functional properties of the capsule material:

  •  Pesticides and herbicides encapsulated in microparticles reach the target organisms directly and in a controlled manner. Pests and weeds can thus be controlled in a targeted and effective manner and the environmental impact reduced.
  • Fertilizers formulated in microcapsules provide nutrients in a form that is easily available to plants.
  • Microparticles in coatings when sowing seeds can supply the seeds with nutrients or other substances and thus promote germination and early plant growth.

Encapsulation can significantly reduce the amount of active and effect substance to be applied. We can also control the release of the substance, for example only when it rains. For use in agriculture, we choose bio-based and biodegradable polymers such as chitosan, inulin or alginate as the capsule material. Once the active ingredients have been released, they are simply broken down in the soil.

Range of services

  • Encapsulation of active ingredients in micro- and nanoparticles for controlled release
  • Formulation development for the stabilization of active substances while maintaining their (bio)activity
  • Gel formulation of active and effect substances
  • Micro- and nanoparticles with improved adhesion properties to surfaces
  • Coating of surfaces


With our comprehensive expertise in material selection and process management, we develop solutions for formulation issues from a wide range of application areas and customized formulations for our customers. Please contact us with your requirements or your idea. We will then also support you with the industrial implementation.

Customer reference

Dr. Nazende Günday-Türeli, MyBiotech GmbH, CTO
© private
Dr. Nazende Günday-Türeli, MyBiotech GmbH, CTO

Collaboration with innovation partner opens up new horizons

My first encounter with the Fraunhofer IGB was as part of the N2B-Patch research project. Our aim was to develop an intranasal application platform for biopharmaceuticals as an innovative galenic formulation for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Now we are joint partners in the Bio2Brain network, which trains young scientists through a research and training program in the development of novel technologies to efficiently deliver biopharmaceuticals intranasally to the brain.

For me, the cooperation with the Fraunhofer IGB means working with very nice colleagues in a trusting and uncomplicated way - in a very professional environment. The Fraunhofer IGB is therefore a reliable partner for us for application-oriented innovation cooperation. The interdisciplinary collaboration also enables us to work together on other R&D and innovation topics that cannot be tackled alone. This cooperation also offers opportunities for further contracts that can lead to new horizons.

Reference projects


February 2019 – January 2023


Induced pluripotent stem cell seeded active osteochondral nanofibrous scaffolds

The iP‑OSTEO project focuses on development of novel cell‑based scaffolds for bone and cartilage repair and will deliver an effective treatment method for patients with poor regenerative capacity. The involved institutions will also help in better integration of academic and industrial stakeholders across Europe as they strengthen the partnerships and promote knowledge transfer across national borders and across different sectors.


January 2017 – December 2020


Development of an intranasal form of therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis

In the EU-funded research project “N2B-patch”, an international consortium is developing an intranasal application platform for biopharmaceutics against diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). Using the treatment of multiple sclerosis as an example, the "Nose2Brain“ approach intends to transport active substances formulated in biomaterials directly through the nose to the brain.


Cytokine functionalized nanoparticles for cancer therapy

At Fraunhofer IGB, biosynthetic hybrid particles were developed which simulate the conditions on cell surfaces. On the surface of these cell-mimetic nanoparticles mimicking cells, membrane proteins are bound in such a way that their biological properties are fully preserved.

Skin Heal

Particle-based formulation for wound healing

The particle systems developed here can be applied to a wide variety of problems in the field of formulation of both small-molecule active ingredients and biopharmaceuticals. For example, it has already been possible to encapsulate interferon while fully retaining its bioactivity.


Bio2Brain set to develop effective drug delivery to central nervous system

Bio2Brain Project website

17 project partners from academia and industry have joined forces in the Bio2Brain network to investigate efficient administration routes of biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). The challenge is an endogenous defence system that normally protects the CNS from unwanted substances. The downside, however, is that commercial or even potential drugs cannot readily cross this barrier. In order to respond to this challenge, the Bio2Brain network will pursue more effective approaches and develop new paradigms for drug delivery technologies in the treatment of CNS diseases.