There is a long way from being a basic science player to being a company offering a strong commercial product. Indeed, entrepreneurs who are deeply involved in advancing basic science are more and more likely to break down the wall between basic and applied science. Mikkel Skorkjær Kongsfelt (Denmark), CEO at Radisurf – PhD who has further commercial experience from running a small IT company – is one of these brilliant “researcher-businessman”.
Hi Mikkel, thank you for being here! Can you tell us about RadiSurf and its story?
RadiSurf is basically an innovative solution for gluing polymer materials (e.g. plastics) and metal together. It is based on a smart chemical coating on the metal surface – a coating of less than 100 nm in thickness! With this coating in place, you can use traditional manufacturing techniques for plastics, such as injection moulding, 3D printing or ultrasonic welding to directly obtain an impressively strong bonding to the metal. With our extremely strong and thin adhesive solution, our customers obtain a unique design freedom for their products, and at the same time with an adhesive that is completely safe to use on products in contact with food, medical devices etc.
The patented technology was developed in a research project at Aarhus University from 2008 to 2013 and we decided to start exploring the commercialization of this technique in August 2015.
What advice do you have for fellow researchers who also want to commercialize their project?
As researchers, we are extremely good at finding new solutions to problems, investigating the fundamental background for the problems and spending countless hours on developing these solutions. But in order to take these developments and turn them into a business, you need to leave your research brain behind and start thinking about commercial issues. Problems still need solutions – however you do not need to understand every detail of the problem and your preferred solution, you just need to make it work. This is a challenge for researchers.
Another key step has been to stop focusing on technology. An exciting technology is not a commercial success until someone is willing to pay for it. Get out of your lab, step into the world and find your customers. Understand their needs, then go back to the lab and make it work. Briefly, what we focus on when building our business, is listening to our customers and build our products and solutions according to their needs.
Our sales and marketing strategy will rely heavily on building cooperative relationships with potential customers in relevant industries to solve their specific needs.
Based on our current experience, our main entry points will be R&D departments and product managers with knowledge and responsibility in future products and current products, respectively.
Finally, the biggest obstacle is funding. Research based commercialization is expensive. You must never underestimate the time and work it requires to take a research project out into the real world and become a commercial solution.
Thank you very much Mikkel!