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From university research to self-employment

After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Jörg Nestler has made a seamless transition to his own executive chair – the spin-off company BiFlow Systems GmbH was also supported by the start-up network SAXEED

After graduation Jörg Nestler had to choose the right course of studies and the right university for academic education. Even before the beginning of the studies, among other things, programing belonged to his great hobbies. So what could seem more appropriate than choosing Computer Science studies? “I found it quite disturbing to do this as part of my job, because most of my free time already took place in front of a computer“, said Nestler. Instead, he chose to study Electrical Engineering. This subject is also connected with computers, but it is still more tangible physically. “As far as Technische Universität Chemnitz enjoys a great reputation in this field, I saw no reason to leave the city“, explains Nestler his preferred choice of a training institution. He never regretted this decision because theoretical teaching and practical relevance had both always been exemplary at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at TU Chemnitz. What is more, the city of Chemnitz also offers a diverse selection of leisure activities apart from university – another justification why Nestler saw no reason to turn his back to his home city. “However, I felt it was important to collect new international experiences and impressions. So I spent ten months in China during my graduate studies“, said the now self-employed electrical engineer, who likes to spend his spare time strategically overwhelmed. In a board game called “Go“, it depends on the right balance between long-term planning and short-term problem solving – a mixture which is considered to be of great importance in real life.

The idea to undertake a doctoral course of study after graduation emerged for the first time after processing of his diploma thesis, where Nestler dealt with the topic of micro fluids: “The fact that this application area is very interdisciplinary and is closely related to Medical Technology, has excited me from the start. When I received an opportunity to continue to work in this field and to build my own research group at the Centre for Microtechnologies of TU Chemnitz – I have used this with pleasure. Earning a doctorate was an actual final part of this research and evolved from several practically-oriented projects in this area.“ The idea of a possible self-employment germinated for the first time during the research. However, this specific project was pushed slowly to the foreground only towards the end of the doctorate studies as an issue for the future career. “A purely academic career did not come for me into question, because I have always worked rather application-oriented. In addition, I was often asked if one could buy the systems developed by us – which unfortunately I had to deny. Also this has finally encouraged me to create my own business on the basis of our technology“, adds Nestler. Among other things, this core competence consists in the development and production of cartridges in the size of a smart card or a microscope slide, for instance, where samples can be analyzed for their biochemical parameters. The special feature: The smallest liquid quantities can be moved within the cartridge without external pumps. Since the origins of this technology are at the Centre for Microtechnologies as well as the Fraunhofer-Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS, there is still a close cooperation with these research institutions and the BiFlow Systems GmbH, that was founded by Dr. Nestler in 2010.

The spin-off company was supervised by SAXEED, one of the most successful Germany’s university start-up networks, which has been recently awarded with the distinction of ”Role Model“ under the “Gründungsradar” of the “Stifterverband”. “Without the support of SAXEED and the fact of always having contact persons for our problems – especially on the early stages – we probably would not have been where we are today“, admits the young manager. That is also the reason why Nestler recommends every student, who toys with an idea of self-employment, to establish the contacts with the start-up network at the Centre for Knowledge and Technology Transfer at TU Chemnitz. In addition, it is not too bad to visit some economic lectures already during the study period. The current executive director is also praising the Technology Centre Chemnitz (TCC), which with its “Start-Up Centre“ on technology campus has created an ideal infrastructure for establishing his business.

Nestler formulates succinctly his goals for the future: “To continue the strong establishment and expansion of the BiFlow Systems with an efficient development of our technologies. From a purely personal point of view, of course, to keep the private life compatible with this and to start a family with my girlfriend.“

(Author: Martin Blaschka, Translation: Nataliia Boiko)

Katharina Thehos
20.02.2015

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