Two DESY spin-offs funded by Helmholtz Enterprise


The cryogenic sample gripper with integrated crash protection is a product of suna-precision GmbH.


Ultrafast laser synchronisation unit built by Cycle GmbH.

The Helmholtz Association is providing support to two companies that have recently been set up to exploit research coming out of DESY. The start-up suna-precision GmbH will receive 100 000 euros from the Helmholtz Enterprise programme, while Cycle GmbH is to receive 130 000 euros. These figures are being doubled by DESY. “Thanks to the support received by two more of our spin-offs, the culture of innovation at DESY is gathering further momentum, and DESY is becoming firmly establishing in Hamburg’s start-up scene,” says Katja Kroschewski, head of DESY’s division for Technology Transfer.

The DESY spin-off suna-precision GmbH will in future provide nanopositioning systems for the scientific market and more particularly for synchrotron radiation sources worldwide. Nicolas Stübe and Alke Meents, both from DESY, are the CEOs of the company, which was founded in July 2014 and has five employees working on the PETRA III beamline P11.

Using DESY know-how, the company founders aim to combine various different high-precision technologies to produce innovative measuring devices that allow measurements to be made efficiently and with the utmost precision in the nanometre range. These technologies owe their clear technological advantage over other products currently available on the market to the simple control system, using specially developed software, and to the use of nanopositioning in a vacuum.

The team intends to make use of this head start while it is receiving the funding, and to focus on putting together a commercial portfolio in the course of the one-year project “Synchrotron Nanopositioning”, which is due to be launched in August. The overall funding of 200 000 euros will be provided half each by DESY and Helmholtz Enterprise. The young entrepreneurs are also being assisted by the DESY Start-up Office, headed by the department for Technology Transfer.

The second company receiving funding is Cycle GmbH, whose CEO, Damian Barre, is assisted by Franz Kärtner as co-partner. The company was started in 2015 as a spin-off of the Ultrafast Optics and X-rays Group at the Centre for Free-Electron Laser Science CFEL and supplies innovative products that use ultrafast laser technology for scientific and industrial applications, such as synchronisation units for large facilities that are accurate to within a femtosecond. The company will be using the funds to turn an already patented ultrashort pulse laser (USP laser) into a finished product, and so to expand its range of products to include laser sources.

The ultrashort pulse laser is based on a novel idea for a fibre laser and produces a high-output beam of excellent quality in a particularly robust way. The laser is extremely long-lived and immune to external disruptions. These properties give it a crucial advantage in industrial applications, leading to significantly lower costs for the customer.

Helmholtz Enterprise is providing financial support for the project Hi-Pulse, preparing the ground for the series production of the laser starting in August. Eventually, the laser is to be sold commercially by Cycle GmbH and offered both to the scientific community and to industry, for example in the field of material processing. On top of this, the team is receiving external management support, which will assist the staff of the spin-off company in the field of business management, finance, marketing and sales of USP lasers.

The overall cost of the project, amounting to 260 000 euros for the one-year duration of the project, will be shared equally by the Helmholtz Association and DESY.

Over the past two years, four companies have been launched as spin-offs of DESY. Seven further projects are currently being supervised by the DESY Start-up Office, all of them at very different stages of development. In the latter half of this year, work is due to begin on the construction of an Innovation Centre, funded by the City of Hamburg. Through this, DESY and the University of Hamburg are planning to support company founders who want to make the innovative technologies developed in the research centre accessible to industrial and commercial enterprises.

(from DESY News)