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SDU researcher to establish company in new programme

Drone researcher Kristian Husum Laursen has been appointed as SDU’s first translational postdoc. As part of the Spin-Outs Denmark programme, he will receive one year of financial and professional assistance to develop a concrete idea and establish his own company.

By Stine Charlotte Saltofte Hansen, , 10/13/2022

It is an ambitious project. He knows that. But Kristian Husum Laursen believes that in one year he can both develop the first version of a new drone and learn how to run his own business. 

He is the first SDU researcher to be included in the Spin-Outs Denmark programme, a programme that across the country’s eight universities is working for more and better businesses – developed by researchers and conceived at universities. 

For Kristian Husum Laursen – and other future translational postdocs – this means that Spin-Outs Denmark is funding one year of work. SDU RIO arranges sparring with business developers and a network that the drone researcher can draw on in the future when he starts his own business.

- If I’m going to build something technically from scratch, it’s a bit extreme to go home and say to your partner, now we’ll be living off just your salary. This is where Spin-Outs Denmark is a great initiative. The fact that I can start with all the knowledge of SDU and RIO behind me is a good springboard, says the drone researcher. 

Drone to ease labour shortage

When Kristian Husum Laursen starts as a postdoc in January, he will be working on a drone with a robotic arm that can perform tasks with repetitive movements that are physically hard for humans. Kristian hasn’t decided exactly what the drone will do yet because the possibilities are many – from construction to weed control. 

- I’m keeping an open mind, but the goal and dream is to make drone robot solutions that can ease labour shortages and reduce the amount of people who are worn out from doing physically demanding tasks. If I could contribute to the green transition, that would be great too, explains the drone researcher and continues:

- There has to be a point to it, and that’s what motivates me. It shouldn’t be the high-precision placement of a pizza box on a doorstep, you know? It should be something with more substance. 

Important opportunity to create societal value

The Spin-Outs Denmark programme is open to all junior researchers who wish to start a business based on research in the humanities or the technical, natural and social sciences. 

This is a good opportunity for PhDs who want to create value for society, says Henrik Bindslev, Chair of the RI Council and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. 

- I am delighted that Kristian has been accepted into the programme as the first researcher from SDU. I look forward to seeing a whole host of young talents at SDU similarly seizing the opportunity to take research results into the commercial world and making it big for the benefit of society, says Henrik Bindslev.

- I am convinced that Kristian, and other future translational postdocs, will use the programme as a springboard to an exciting working life with lots of challenges, successes and experiences of making a difference.

The project must have a purpose

Kristian Husum Laursen is well aware that he has a lot to achieve in one year. 

- The aim is that in a year’s time I will have a proof of concept in the form of a drone that can perform a task in a closed environment, picking up and placing something – and that it is convincing enough to attract the interest of potential collaborators or investors, he explains.

The drone researcher encourages other PhDs and postdocs at SDU to seize the same opportunity to become a translational postdoc. 

The next deadline for applications for a place in the programme is 23 October 2022. Read more about the programme and the application process here.

Fact box: Spin-Outs Denmark

Spin-Outs Denmark is a one-year programme for junior researchers who dream of creating a company based on their own research (a spin-out).

The programme is run by the eight Danish universities and is funded by the Villum Foundation. Spin-Outs Denmark expects to appoint up to 60 translational postdocs over the next five years. 

You can now apply to join the programme. The deadline is 23 October. Read more about it and apply here

Editing was completed: 13.10.2022