The generation of functional cell-based models is one of the most important scientific branches for disease modelling or drug discovery. A major breakthrough was the finding that reprogramming of somatic cells generates pluripotent stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cells, iPSC), what tremendously increased the possibilities in the field of tissue engineering. By differentiation of iPSCs, that can even be patient-specific, virtually any cell type can be derived and serve together with superior (bio-) materials as building block for advanced cell-based models. The increasing knowledge about the interaction of these cells with their microenvironment allows rational design of artificial stem cell niches mimicking the in vivo situation superior to two-dimensional cultivation in plastic labware. Hydrogels, such as alginates produced in ultra-high viscous and ultra-pure quality, are one of the most versatile biomaterials due to their their tuneable mechanical properties and the possibility of chemical, physical and topographical modifications. We will present our most recent work on biofunctionalization of alginate for cultivation and manipulation of human stem cells and stem cell derived cardiomyocytes. These modifications are applicable to alginate beads (e.g. relevant for cell expansion in suspension-based bioreactors) as well as to thin alginate membranes (e.g. for cell-based models). Finally, we will present an outlook on including these biofunctionalization approaches in biofabrication pipelines (e.g. bioprinting of complex cell-based models).