In this series on the website Wageningen Campus, we speak to startups, companies, and inhabitants of the campus about their activities and why they choose to work on Wageningen Campus.
As a student of WUR Carlos Seranno had the idea to make customised, sustainable and re-usable bioreactor systems using 3D-printing technologies. He got a lot of support to achieve his dream. In the end, he wants his new company to be a flagship of circularity based on recycling new materials. "We want to empower people both to do better research and to implement similar sustainable ideas to have more impact."
What is the core business of Remode Solutions?
With our company, we make equipment for fermentation research using the 3D-printing technique. In biotechnology, many researchers use small bioreactors (or fermentors) to do their experiments. Imagine a small vessel (0,5- 10 litres) with entrances and exits to produce pharmaceuticals, chemicals, biogas, of treating wastewater.
By using 3D-printing, we can make such bioreactors precisely customised to the requirements of the user. The current bioreactors are made mainly of glass of steel. They are standard, take long time and craftwork to produce, and when they finally arrive, they often must be adapted manually to fit the requirements of the experiment.
Our bioreactors are made of recyclable materials, are automatically produced by the 3D-printer overnight, are personalised and, due to the easy and fast production process, are more affordable than the current bioreactors on the market. Afterwards, we can recycle the material and use it again to make new customized bioreactors. In this way, we reduce waste and are working circularly. At this moment, we are in the starting phase with Remode Solutions. We are still experimenting and busy finetuning our small bioreactors of different materials with different performance requirements.
How did you start the company?
I'm from Spain and did my BSc in Biochemistry in Sevilla. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and choose to study my MSc Biotechnology in Wageningen. In Spain and Wageningen, I often worked with bioreactors and was already thinking about the possibilities to customise them. During the course New Venture Creation at WUR, I pitched this idea, and with a student team, we went to laboratories to identify the need and talk about the possibilities of 3D-printed bioreactors. We wrote a business plan. That is where StartHub came in with the question: do you want to make it happen? We got financial support and started with four people to work on implementing our business plan. We went to training, competitions, accelerator programmes. For almost a year, this was a side activity for me as a student. Now, I am fully immersed in this project while combining it with my academic internship project.
How many people are in your team now?
Our original entrepreneurs' team split up during my last year due to their academic commitments. They all graduated or did internships abroad. I also had to graduate, and because I was the founder of Remode Solutions, I could do my internship in my own company. Of course with supervision from WUR to reach the academic goals. From May 2018 we worked full time on optimising the prototypes. I hope to graduate this month (March 2020).
From November last year Elia Ferrara and Irving Flores joined the Remode Solutions team and now we are looking for WUR-students to work with us on a probably new research projects with WUR.
Now, I must learn how to manage a team, look for complementary qualities both in personality and in skills, and learn to cover our market and to achieve our international ambition. It is a long path, but entrepreneurship can be as exciting and rewarding as challenging.
What is the link with WUR?
Because we were students of WUR, we had full entry to all facilities and possibilities on Wageningen Campus. WUR is where we got our expertise and knowledge. We are settled on campus. You could say 'the campus is our home'.
What are the benefits of being on Wageningen Campus?
Where do I start? Our very beginning happened during the course New Venture Creation at WUR. After thise moment, we received a lot of support and backup from StartLife and StartHub. Our launching customers are also at the labs of Wageningen Campus.
Besides, we could apply for this research projects grants, such as now Take off in collaboration with WUR-researchers specialised in nanobiotechnology.
Don't forget the reputation Wageningen has among our customers. When I tell them we are based in Wageningen, this is a definite selling point.Our first delivery is also on Wageningen Campus. We made a 300 ml bioreactor which researchers of NIOO-KNAW use in their wastewater treatment experiments. We start small, but when it works out, we hope to scale up in order to offer better services and products.
Do you use facilities on campus?
We use the StartHub office facilities in Atlas every day. We started having some initial meetings and brainstorming sessions at Triton (which had to be torn down to make room for the third education building under construction). When Plus Ultra II is ready, we are moving over there. We also used sometimes the facilities in the nanobiotechnology lab to do some first trials on 3D-printing.
Are there things you miss on campus?
Something that I would find useful for several startups on the campus, is a special workshop space dedicated to do technical work such as to improve or develop new products. Now, we have office space and a testing room. It could be a benefit to have a place where we could cut, saw, drill and weld, where we could work with wood, metal, water, sprays, solvents and somehow “make noise”. Where the floor does not need to be kept clean. This could be a workspace where we can adapt our products. Sometimes we can do this type of work at the FabLab, but this space is actually not meant for this kind of work also has minimal space. In brief, I think that it could be useful to have an open workshop space for noisy and creative tooling work.
How do you see the future on campus?
I would not mind to stay in Wageningen for a few more years. At least to develop myself professionally. I'm very comfortable working here and I want to give back what we received from WUR. The opportunities we got and still get are excellent. For instance, the money we got from the province of Gelderland to support our startup. The least we can do, is to remain in the area in return.
How do you see the future of your company?
In the near future, most likely 2 to 3 years, I see Remode Solutions operate from Wageningen. Maybe in 4 to 5 years, we may expand to other European countries, probably even to Spain!
We developed these re-usable bioreactors for use in biotechnology. Still, when people want to build other sustainable equipment using our techniques, we are happy to help them. We want to empower people to make more impactful research while working towards sustainability. Our dream is to make biotech research accessible to everyone while being a flagship of circularity in all our activities.