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Lars-Erik Wernersson | Acconeer

"We had several companies interested, we had sketches for a patent and skilled doctoral students working on the project. We saw that it was taking off and we needed help to consider our potential in a broader perspective. That was when we contacted LU Innovation."

Lars-Erik Wernersson has been involved in starting companies in the field of nanoelectronics in the past, he was familiar with the process but also knew that it was important to get help – ideas need to be tossed around and reviewed.

- An important part of LU Innovation's role is to be there as a sounding board and help to avoid any major stumbling blocks or pitfalls.

Wavelets for electromagnetic radiation

Over almost ten years, Lars-Erik's method for generating short, energy-efficient pulses has been redesigned and developed. The research team is now working on the fifth generation of the technology. The company, Acconeer, has been set up and patent applications to protect the innovation have been submitted.

– We received help from LU Innovation wherever we needed it. Advice on patents, help with external contacts and market development. 

They helped us with the structure when we set up the company, contributed to ensuring all the paperwork was in order, made sure that we brought in external expertise to the company and acted as door-openers to their networks.

Several building blocks led to the formation of a company

For Lars-Erik, commercialisation in a suitable way is a natural part of research. It can involve setting up a company, licensing to industry or other constellations.

– We discussed the possibilities and there were several building blocks which led us to opt for a company this time. We had company contacts, so clients. There was a technology originating from within Lund University and a generic technology which can be used within several different fields. Moreover, we had very expert colleagues in the research group.

Research focused on application

Lars-Erik explains that he and the research team visited many companies even before forming their own, which gave them a picture of the market and its expectations.

– We learnt early on that we must get out and meet potential clients. This provides a reality check to the research, helping us to understand how the clients think and to learn their language. This gives us valuable input which we can use to develop the project. We researchers work in slightly different ways, but I think it is exciting to hear about a problem which exists out there somewhere, to see if you can apply your own research to the problem and perhaps solve it!

Practise your elevator pitch

The most important tip for researchers thinking about developing their idea is to dare to ask, dare to think in practical terms and dare to take criticism. 

– It is never too early to get help from others and for example to get in touch with LU Innovation. Dare to ask – the worst that can happen is that you have to do a bit more work on some parts first. And be very brief and concise in describing your idea, practise your elevator pitch and dare to discuss it with knowledgeable people in order to polish it.

Lars-Erik also thinks that it is important to be prepared for commercialisation not to be an unmitigated success, regardless of which path you choose. 

– It is crucial to be open to opportunities. Sometimes you have to rethink things or think along different lines.

Lars-Erik and his research team are now looking at what could be generation five of the technology, which could eventually be taken into the company. At the same time other ideas, within other fields, are on the way.

– We are thinking of starting more companies – absolutely!

 

 

Facts Acconeer

Background

Traditional methods for generating electrical impulses in measurement systems are often very energy-consuming. It is often necessary to measure for a relatively long time in order to achieve sufficient accuracy. It costs energy because it requires electrical circuits to be activated for quite a long time. If the measurement time is reduced, the energy consumption will also drop, bringing us closer to battery-driven systems.

 

Idea

Lars-Erik Wernersson and his research colleagues in nanoelectronics at LTH developed a technology which delivers wavelets of electromagnetic radiation. The method can be used to create radar sensors accurate to the millimetre and with low electrical energy consumption, usable in areas such as communication, imaging and measurement. The innovation exploits a quantum mechanical nanocomponent which is integrated with a normal transistor in an oscillator. The wave properties of the particles in nanomaterial are used to create electromagnetic wavelets with a different wavelength in the circuit.

 

Company/license

Acconeer AB was set up in 2011. The company produces and sells electronic systems for various types of measurement applications in the processing industry, for example.