Smena Catalysis

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Timur and Smena Catalysis

In 2021 Timur Shegai, Professor in Nano and Biophysics together with the postdoc Battulga Munkhbat and Chalmers Ventures, started the company Smena Catalysis. He describes the process and the challenges of forming your own start-up.

Smena Catalysis has developed a unique 2D nanomaterial with many more active edge sites than any existing similar material. The story started in the lab when Timur and his colleague discovered a process which was related to the application of layered semiconducting materials, such as MoS2 and others, which has attracted significant research interest lately. After that, they decided to publish these results and to patent it. Because the patent should come before the publication, they contacted Chalmers Innovation office on how exactly this patent could be supported. Together with them, they concluded it was a patented technology, and with support and encouragement, they created Smena Catalysis. Together with Chalmers Ventures, he is now owning the company. Chalmers Ventures is providing the company with a business coach, support, and strategic advice.

Ambitions and goals

“The goal is to make it into a working technology. Now we are trying to understand where this material is useful. We have therefore narrowed it down to gas-sensing applications where we are trying to build a business case. Scientifically, the material is showing promising results in detecting tiny concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which may be applied in air quality monitoring. But to turn it into a successful company, we need more support and to be working in the market will take some time and money”, Timur says.

Smena Catalysis is also collaborating with people from the Nano area: Christoph Langhammer from Chalmers and Jens Eriksson from Linköping University. Scientific publication is on the way and several people from the group, including Dr. Abhay Agrawal and Dr. Alexander Polyakov, have contributed to it.

“What I also learned is that there is a big gap between the scientific results and something that works in your cellphone or in a real-world application, but we are trying to get there. In any case, I am very happy and proud of the patent which is our main asset. The story is not yet finished,” Timur says.

Chalmers - a good support in the process

Chalmers innovation office has been a big support in the process, as well as the different centers at Chalmers.

“Chalmers innovation office has been a big support and contributor to the company. At Chalmers, we also have an excellent infrastructure with many different centers, Chalmers Ventures, and a clean room. I could really recommend others to try to do the same journey as I have been doing! Of course, there is no guarantee that everything you try will be successful. But if you don’t try, you don’t get it” Timur concludes.