Interview | Ryan Guterman, CEO and Founder at FaradaIC Sensors GmbH
Ryan Guterman is from Canada and obtained his PhD in chemistry from the University of Western Ontario before moving to Germany in 2015. He soon after became Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces before starting his company FaradaIC Sensors GmbH in 2021. His research focus revolved around the invention of new electrolyte materials and their application in electrochemical devices. Now as CEO of FaradaIC Sensors, his goal is to create the world's first O2 gas sensor on a microchip specifically designed for mass-market applications.
We talked with him about his experiences as a founder, what support services he used and where the market opportunities of FaradaIC’s technology lie.
1. You were a finalist for our Speed Lecture Award in 2017. How did you experience the event and did it influence your future career path?
It was a fun event and I enjoyed listening to the presentations. I wouldn't say it influenced my career path, but it was an important event in the development of my presentation style since I was exposed to the other presenters and learned a few tricks and approaches.
2. What experience would you like to share in starting a business?
The most important experience I can share in starting a business is to be prepared to learn new things constantly. When starting a business, you do not have the resources or personnel to accomplish tasks, so you end up doing it on your own.
3. Did you use any special support services from the region - including BPWT/cluster support?
I did use some free coaching support along the way from some local institutions to fill my knowledge gaps. It's important to have a good understanding of what you don't know so that you can go find help.
4. You not only won the Berlin startup grant from INAM – AdMaLab, but also received the very competitive EIC Accelerator grant a few months ago. Congratulations on that! Can you tell us what the money will be used for?
The EIC Accelerator grant will be used to complete our product and make it market ready. The grant is designed specifically for this purpose and it aligns nicely with our technology progress.
5. Electrochemical gas sensing is not new in principle. What is so special about your technology?
We are the first company to figure out how to microfabricate electrochemical gas sensors on microchips, with a special focus on oxygen gas sensing. Yes, electrochemical gas sensing is a very established technology and has been used since the 1960s, but the sensors are never built on microchips, but rather in a more classical fashion using large parts/components. This makes them expensive and bulky. Our technology, rooted in material science, allows us to build such sensors on chips, thus making them vastly smaller and much more cost-effective. This opens up new market opportunities unique to our product.
6. What are typical application areas for your technology and will you initially focus on one or some of them?
There are many, but the customers that are most excited about our product are building devices that either gather biometric data from breath or build devices to monitor food freshness. These are very different applications, but in both cases they need millions of small, cost-effective oxygen gas sensors. We can fill this market need.