Three young science students who won the Euro Start Entreprises startup competition are planning to launch a product to help solve the world’s energy storage problem.
Lukas Lutz (pictured right) from Germany, Luca Scherrer (pictured centre) from Switzerland and Daniel Corte (pictured left) from Brazil have created a new testing platform which allows high accuracy testing for batteries, leading to more information on how batteries and capacitors can provide more energy storage.
The team – which call themselves SPHERE – met while studying, and together pooled their knowledge in business strategies and analytics, electrochemistry and materials, and engineering and metallurgy to come up with their innovative system.
The team's international experience in leading research facilities such as ETH Zürich, MIT, UC Berkeley, Oxford University and with global industries such as Delloite, Lonza and Total, galvanised their desire to provide a solution for energy storage.
Lukas explains: “The world needs a better and more sustainable energy system. However, the large scale development of renewable energies is limited by energy storage. Batteries will play a decisive role in the future of our society but the current technology still needs to be strongly improved. We want to help scientists to develop the batteries that will power tomorrow’s world.”
After winning the Euro Start Entreprises startup competition, the team will start by launching their business in Paris – a thriving hub for European startups. We caught up with the team to ask them a few questions while they visited the capital to begin their startup journey.
Tell us about your startup. Why did you decide to focus on batteries?
The decision of focusing on batteries was something that came instinctively. We decided that the complementary skills we own in combination with the insight in leading battery science were the perfect foundation to be a successful team in the energy research sector. After exchanging our experiences on novel energy storage technologies we saw a great potential for our ideas and we decided to realize our dream. The team spirit, our internal motivation and the common goal to improve life in our society lead to the creation of SPHERE. With our testing platform – the BattCell© – we are able to get detailed insight in the internal life of state of the art and future energy storage technologies. The BattCell© is capable of monitoring current, voltage, temperature, potential and internal gas environment. (The prototype, pictured below, was developed at the INNOVLAB at the Institut Universitaire de Technologie in Cachan, France).
What do you think of France’s current startup scene?
In the last few years we have seen a change in the startup landscape in France. Public and private investments are turning cities like Paris and Lyon into worldwide famous incubators of innovative business. La French Tech and BPI play an important role in this development. France has great potential in launching startups and we’ve seen many successful examples such as BlaBlaCar and Vente Privée. However, there still some gaps to be filled in order to really boost innovation. One example is the lack of incentive, support and guidance during the first steps of development of a startup. On the other hand, we have seen the efforts of the French Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, Emmanuel Macron, on recognizing the important role that startups play in the economy, especially during these difficult times that France has faced with high unemployment rates and industrial recession. We hope that non-software based startups coming from the academic field receive stronger support from the universities to have a strong plan on how to face the real world.
Who (or what) has been the biggest influence on your careers?
We all went through completely different experiences, in different parts of the world. But it is exactly this that opened our minds and broadened our horizons and finally made us to who we are today. We worked hard to get the opportunities to learn from the best and see their perspective. This improved our technical skills but more importantly, formed our characters. On the way we met many interesting and influential personalities, but one of the most outstanding is our current mentor Professor Jean-Marie Tarascon. Without his visionary thinking and his motivating support the development of SPHERE would not be where it is today.
Do you have any advice for engineering and science students who want to take their ideas forward into the market place?
Be persistent, don't do it for the money, find a mentor, talk to people about your idea to get honest opinions, be careful with the type of help that is offered to you and the price you pay for it.
How did you feel when you found out you’d won the Euro Start Startup Competition and what are your hopes for the future?
For us, winning the Euro Start Entreprises competition was very exciting. Even more so, was the timing of it. One of the main hurdles we were facing, was the legalization and foundation of a company in Paris. We think that Euro Start, with their large expertise in this field, is a perfect partner to guide us through that process. For the future, we hope to bring value to this investment, becoming a successful company, creating technology, creating jobs and be able to return the favour by enabling improved energy storage technologies. Together, SPHERE is more than just three friends - we share a common dream of improving the life of our generation.
The team at Euro Start are extremely proud to give a helping hand to such bright innovative young scientists and we wish them all the best in the future. For help getting your startup launched in France or in over 30 countries in the world, you can download our free guides below and click on our contact page to speak to us about all our services such as business bank accounts, registered addresses, accountancy, tax consultants, and VAT services.