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When Chemists go Industry

Aktualisiert: 28. März 2023

Chemists are solution hunters. Often the solution starts as an idea, continues to an experiment and in exceptional cases leaves the lab. But what happens next and how does a scientist become an entrepreneur? Meet three young entrepreneurs from D-CHAB who are also participants of the IChO Finding Solutions Fair.

Anna Beltzung

Hello, my name is Anna Beltzung and I'm CTO and co-founder of dimpora AG. We are developing the new generation of sustainable functional membranes for the outdoor textile industry.

It is fair to say that I know D-CHAB very well as I went from my Bachelor’s to my doctorate here at ETH as a chemical engineer. I am happy about my choice of studies because even if it was hard, I see the impact that I can now make: we are at the start of almost every added-value product intended to reach the market in this sector.

It is then in our power to think twice about the materials that we decide to use in future products as we understand the chemistry and the requirements to go into big production volumes. More particularly in the textile industry, there is a real push from the brands and young designers to think ahead of the design and make sure all the steps, including end-of-life strategy, are considered and we are happy to accompany them in their journey.

I started working for dimpora in May 2018 right after my doctorate and incorporated it with Mario Stucki in January 2019. We have had a product on the market since October 2022 and there are 12 people in the team, working hard every day. It has been quite a bumpy but happy road so far; I am excited to see what will come next and I would definitely recommend anyone who is motivated to just jump in the water and do the same.

Felix Torres

Hi, I’m Felix. As a pharmacy student in Paris, I was captivated by the world of chemistry and drug discovery. My love for this field led me to pursue a doctorate at ETH Zürich, where I worked on developing new methods to support drug discovery. The chemistry department at ETH Zürich is an incredible place with a rich history and a buzzing scientific atmosphere.

During my time there, my mission was to help my fellow drug hunters in their endeavors with sustainable and versatile technologies. This ultimately inspired me to shift my career towards entrepreneurship and found NexMR. While building a company from scratch is undoubtedly challenging, the Swiss start-up ecosystem provided me with the support and resources to succeed.

Now, I'm thrilled to announce that we'll be launching our first product this year – a library of molecules to kick-off drug design campaigns in pharmaceutical R&D. As I continue to pursue my passion for chemistry and drug discovery, I'm excited to meet and collaborate with the next generation of chemists, particularly in the field of life science.

Michaela Puddu

I am Michela, CEO and co-founder of the ETH spin-off Haelixa. Originally from Italy, I came to Switzerland in 2012 for my Master’s thesis at ETH Zurich. I completed my doctorate in Chemical Engineering at ETH and founded the company in 2016.

At ETH, I developed a solid expertise in DNA-based technologies for a variety of applications (including the core of what became later the Haelixa technology). During my doctoral studies, ETH/D-CHAB provided the resources and ecosystem to work efficiently and deliver quickly good quality results, which resulted in several high-impact scientific articles and a patent.

Towards the end of my doctorate, I decided to leave academic research for industrial innovation: I wanted to have a more direct impact on society. At the same time, I had received sufficient validation from the media, and the public and private sectors that the technology I had co-invented could change the way products are traced and how supply chains are managed. Being naive enough to believe that I could bring this forward, I decided to start a company.

Our vision at Haelixa is to catalyze the transition toward transparent supply chains. Based on DNA markers, the Haelixa technology is physically applied to a product /material and stays linked to it, providing a traceable physical fingerprint from producer to retail. We aim at becoming the gold standard for marking and tracing products and empowering consumers, supply chain workers, and businesses across the globe.

With the right support and mindset, all the other skills needed to undertake an entrepreneurial adventure can be learned. It is definitely a complex journey, requiring tremendous commitment and tenacity, but it is definitely worth it. So, if you ever want to become an entrepreneur, don’t think too much: nobody knows how it will go, so rather get started and figure it out yourself!

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