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“I like to find solutions to problems that have never been solved.”

From novel findings to groundbreaking products: Edouard Berrocal, a senior lecturer at the Physics Department developed a new method for testing cloudy liquids using scattered light. Learn about how he is combining his academic career with his role as the founder of Spec-Imaging AB.

Picture of a wastewater facility next to researcher Edouard Berrocal

Tell us about Spec-Imaging – the company based on your research. What problem are you solving?

“Previously, doing accurate measurements of cloudy or hazy liquids, which we call turbid liquids in physics, often wasn’t possible without the liquid being diluted and analysed in a lab, which is both costly and time consuming. This made it difficult to answer critical questions like “Is the water clean?” or “Is the content what we intended for it to be?”. With the technology we've developed, we can now answer these crucial questions accurately on-site. This development can significantly improve consistency, quality, and safety in various industries, including food processing, medicine, and wastewater management." 

Why did you decide to start a company instead of licensing the technology?

"In 2012, we filed our first patent for the technology. Back then, I never thought about creating a startup - I was just considering licensing out the technology. However, the reality is that licensing is not easy. Later, when we got the idea to use the same technology for analysing turbid liquids, we were advised to start a company instead. This turned out to be the right decision. This year, we released our first product."

 You knew you wanted to stay in academia. How was starting a company while remaining in academia possible?

“Long story short - I got the chance from LU Innovation and LU Holding, that make up Lund University’s innovation support, to apply my ideas without leaving the university. When you create a company, it takes a lot of work. LU Holding has been really helpful in the startup, and LU Innovation with working on the patent. Without this structure, I would never have done it because for me, it’s nicer to stay in academia. Putting together a strong operational team in our startup has been essential. There are a lot of difficult challenges in creating a product instead of a prototype in the lab. We need people who can take it all the way.”

What has starting Spec-Imaging meant for your research?

“It has helped us in a number of ways:

  1. It enabled us to study a new area: It shifted our research from studying scattered light in the air to studying its behavior in liquids.
  2. It helped us with patents and grants: including a Proof of Concept grant from the European Research Council and more.
  3. It opened up new ideas: Spec-Imaging has helped us identify applications that are important in waste-water industry, medicine, and food processing. We have been guided in fields we don't know, which opens up a lot of new ideas."

Would you still have done it, even if Spec-Imaging would fail?

“If it would fail that is unfortunate but what we have been through together until now has been a fantastic adventure. To be a part of a team, striving forward together – that has been incredibly rewarding. Having Spec-Imaging working with the guidance of Lund University will most probably lead to a promising future.”