After completing my PhD, I spent some time working with an industrial start-up focusing on Bioeconomy and hydroponics. Having founded the company in 2016, we launched our flagship product, the first functional indoor vertical farm for domestic households (like Infarm GmbH but for B2C), on the global market and began mass production. As Head of Research, I first and foremost managed to significantly improve the financial liquidity of the company through planning and successfully executing our funding strategy. I was also responsible for identifying and tackling emerging development opportunities and risks for our overall business strategy. Unfortunately, this pioneering venture was not successful economically.
However, despite the failure of the business, it was, for me, ultimately a learning process. From my 3 years working in a start-up environment I learned that innovation processes, from basic research ideas through to piloting and the internationalisation of pioneering products and services can and must secure support through national and European funding programmes opening up essential opportunities for R&D, networking with academia, supply chains and national/export markets, and intellectual property rights protection. Still, innovators must be flexible and adaptable whilst identifying the right niche or be endurant and perseverant for the right window of opportunity to open. After having secured and implemented a European Innovation Council and European Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EIC EASME) Phase 1 project myself, I am now mainly active as an expert reviewer for high-risk/high-gain project proposals for bioeconomy and renewable energy technologies for the EIC EASME and Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) calls.