Luz WaveLabs produces ultra-high performance THz generator called pure-T-Wave. The type of technology that Luz WaveLabs uses can be applied to practically all sectors, such as industry, communication, security/defence, biotechnology, and many more. Student entrepreneur and President and Co-Founder of Luz WaveLabs, Á. Rubén Criado tells KITE Invest exactly how the Startup is leading the way in Hi-Technology.
KITE Invest: Please explain in laymen terms what is THz and how Luz WaveLabs uses this in terms of its product pure-T-Wave.
Á. Rubén Criado: Almost everything surrounding us works thanks to electromagnetic (EM) waves: electricity, electronics, radio, communications, light, even our own brain and eyes. Within the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, where all these waves are allocated, the THz region is one of the last uncharted regions in terms of technological development. Once the technology to generate and control EM waves is developed, they can be used to answer unsolved problems in a wide range of fields with huge practical and commercial implications.
Scientific and technological advances have allowed for the development of the first useful THz technology in recent years, but it still has to greatly improve in order to be able to leave research labs and fulfill the requirements for end user applications.
Our product, pure-T-wave, is a THz system with a signal quality more than one million times better than the best available equivalent THz system in the market. This is why we think that pure-T-wave will be the technology that will break commercial exploitation of applications already demonstrated at the scientific level, and permit the development of countless new ones.
KITE: Please shed light on ways in which Luz WaveLabs can apply its technology to numerous various sectors. Who make up Luz Wave Labs clients?
ARC: In the short term, our THz technology will have a small focus with a relatively high cost for massive markets oriented toward consumers. This is why, in these first years, we will mainly focus on two markets where clients are able to make significant initial investments if a return is provided: industry and bio.
The industrial applications of THz are principally focused on quality control and process control. THz waves are able to “see” different materials through packages, not only metal, as X-rays do, but also ceramic, cardboard, plastic or wood. This has a huge potential for Non-Destructive-Evaluation (NDE) in different industries: evaluation of inner defects and damages, dangerous materials and objects inside packages. Moreover, THz waves can analyze most materials and components, thus providing accurate information about the composition. This is especially interesting in pharmaceutical, chemical and several other industries. Finally, it is important to say that THz waves are completely safe, and no special protection or policies have to be applied to operators or objects under study.
As the Bio market has important entry barriers and a long time to market, we are focusing on it only at a research level and through public funding thanks to our collaboration with international consortiums. We are working in three main applications: preventive skin cancer diagnostics, and early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and non-invasive-reactive-free glucose analysis.
In order to reach massive market and consumer electronics, THz technology has to decrease cost and size. We are already working in the integration of our systems in Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC), a new technology that will be the equivalent of electronic chips to the photonics industry. In the long term, this will be the way towards low cost THz technology on chips. We have begun the integration of one of our products in a PIC under a European project collaborating with several European institutions to bring to the market new and advanced THz components based on nanoelectronics and PICs.
KITE:In terms of the company’s industry what are Luz WaveLabs competitive advantages?
ARC: There are several companies working in the THz field, some of them with years of expertise: Toptica (Germany), Teraview (UK), Virginia Diodes (USA). But very recently, a significant number of new companies focused on THz have been created worldwide, most of them as spin-off of Universities and Research Centers.
We want to compete with them through two key strategies:
The first is our technological advantage (pure-T-wave). Moreover, we are already collaborating with several European Research Centers and Universities in order to maintain and increase this technological advantage.
The second is our orientation to end users and non-technical markets. Most THz companies are very focused on scientific users because of the technological limitations of their systems, the scientific origin of the companies and the immaturity of the THz market. We want to lead the birth and early growth of the THz market as the way to reach a significant market share in the mid term, and because of this we need to focus on end users and nonscientific markets from the beginning.
KITE: Luz WaveLabs is affiliated with the Scientific Park of the Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M). The UC3M is well known for its entrepreneurship program, how has Luz Wave Labs’ affiliation with UC3M helped prepare and develop the company?
ARC: The project began just as an idea in the VI Ideas Contest of the UC3M. That contest included about four months of formative sessions on entrepreneurship. This allowed us to develop the idea and prepare an initial business plan. Finally, we won the contest (May 2013) and thanks to it we met some of the cofounders of Luz WaveLabs. We have been in the UC3M Scientific Park since then, where we still receive total support from its staff.
KITE: As a Startup what have been some of the biggest challenges, as well as, greatest milestones met?
ARC: Basically a challenge is what is overcome becomes a milestone. One of the biggest challenges is to make the decision of taking an initial idea forward, and try to make a business project out of it. But this is just the beginning, and the kick off for a lot of new challenges yet to come: funding needs, people in the company, making the first sale…
KITE: Luz WaveLabs has already gone through its first round of funding and should be seeking a second round in a year to two years. Please describe your experiences with investors and what you are aim to achieve for the second round of investment.
ARC: In our case, the investors are people close to some of the cofounders. They believe in highly technological and industrial projects with mid-term returns. In contrast to what many short term investors think, they firmly believe that highly scientific and technological projects can be made in this country, and these are key in creating long term jobs and solid companies.
For our second investment round, we would like to have similar investor profiles, people whose strategy is not only centered on easy money, but also in provide experience, potential alliances and illusion to the project.
Luz WaveLabs was a recent finalist at The South Summit in Madrid, Spain