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Five questions to Dr. Florian Döring
Physicist Dr. Florian Döring is the CEO and founder of XRnanotech. He leads one of the youngest spin-offs of Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, which develops extraordinary X-ray optics. XRnanotech has already won numerous awards, including being recognized as the best Swiss start-up with CHF 10.000 at this year’s SwissNanoConvention. But already in 2020, Dr. Florian Döring and his team were awarded as part of the Swiss Business Incubation Center of CERN’s funding program. XRnanotech has been a Member Company since 2022 at Park Innovaare and will also be represented in the new building in 2024.
Florian, you have been at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI since 2017. Normally, the career path of a researcher follows from there. What or who inspired you to pursue the path of an entrepreneur?
During my PostDoc at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, I developed innovative X-ray optics. I presented the results of these scientific advances at various international conferences, where I was repeatedly approached by other researchers inquiring whether they could also use our optics for their applications. The demand couldn’t be met through scientific collaborations only, which led me to the idea of making our innovations available to the entire community. Over time, the application of our products has extended well beyond research institutions, but as a physicist, I am glad that we continue to contribute to numerous scientific projects.
How does the path to self-employment work? What advice do you have for scientists who also aspire to independence?
I have always had an affinity for business-related topics. That motivated me to pursue further development in that direction after completing my Ph.D. in physics and obtaining a Master of Business Administration. This helped me to become familiar with relevant economic concepts and develop a certain entrepreneurial mindset. Apart from that, it is essential for a spin-off to receive as much support as possible from the associated research institution. I was supported in founding XRnanotech with the Founder Fellowship from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI.
XRnanotech develops and manufactures innovative and diffractive optics for high-tech applications to visualize the nanoworld. Are there challenging projects you are working on?
When we work on the latest developments for our customers, these projects are subject to confidentiality agreements. But the range of our developments is diverse, making it consistently exciting. Our products range from the smallest nanostructures in ultra-high-resolution microscopy to applications in the space. Furthermore, there is demand for nanostructured optics wherever high-energy radiation needs to be focused on the smallest samples.
Do you also develop and manufacture your optics for international customers?
We sell our optics worldwide. XRnanotech supplies international research institutions and high-tech companies in almost all industrialized countries. The focus is on Europe, Asia, and North America, as the demand for high-tech products is highest in these regions.
Which technological trend benefits XRnanotech?
Currently, many synchrotrons worldwide are undergoing upgrades to the latest technology. This also applies to Swiss Light Source here at Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, enabling novel and improved research. However, for these applications, innovative and improved optics are also required. XRnanotech meets the demand for innovation, and we have already delivered our first products to synchrotrons where the upgrade has been completed.
Thank you for the interview!