Meet the founders – Tribo Blend
1- Can you briefly explain what your solution is all about? What’s unique about it?
We have conceived, designed, demonstrated, and patented a superior, simple, scalable, and cost-efficient method for increasing the toughness of epoxy resins and improving the dispersion, delamination, and filler size performance of a vast number of industrial blends, and are transforming this idea in a profitable business. Our method is inspired by the natural processes that transform coal into diamonds where ultrahigh mechanical forces can give rise to changes in raw materials at the molecular level.
2- What’s the story behind your company? How was the idea for this business born?
The idea of TriboBlend has its origin in an idea from Juan Manuel Muñoz-Guijosa, our president, who had the opportunity to validate it during a research stay in Japan. Upon his return to Spain, he continued to investigate the subject, with said research having made great progress thanks to the participation of Guillermo Fernández as a doctoral student. Shortly after, they got down to work with the patent process, resulting in winners of the UPM Innovatech 2019 contest.
3-Which is the challenge that your solution tackles, and how do you set apart from the other companies with similar solutions?
Thanks to our technology, the improvement of the mechanical properties of a wide industrial variety of materials is achieved. We know that we have a lot of potential, but we are concentrating especially on the epoxy resin market due to its large industrial applications in a wide range of sectors, with demand expected to double in the coming years. This growth is logical since epoxy resins are materials with excellent mechanical, chemical and electrical properties, with low density and reasonable cost. Using our technology, it is possible to improve the great problem of these epoxy resins: fragility. Thanks to our method, the toughness is considerably increased, without the need to sacrifice any other property (such as rigidity, resistance…) in exchange. This allows for weight reductions in structural parts with the same reliability, which leads to a reduction in environmental and operating costs. On the other hand, the mechanical properties of bio-based materials (bio-epoxy), which in the future will replace hydrocarbon-based epoxy resins, can be improved with our process, which allows a reduction of the carbon footprint in the production of raw materials, and in emissions from transportation thanks to the weight reduction we achieved.
4- What are your goals, and what’s the biggest challenge you are trying to overcome at this moment?
The biggest difficulty we have encountered to date is attracting the first customer. It is difficult for clients to trust our project without any success stories available, and we are aware of this. It is for this reason that we offer to potentially interested clients a free sample of our service so that they can see for themselves the excellent results of our treatment.
Fortunately, we have managed to rely on the support of the UPM, and various bodies of the European Commission, such as the EIT Raw Materials, the Galactica project and the Space Hubs network, which help us with knowledge, contacts and finances.
5- What advice would you give to an entrepreneur trying to pave his/her way in the space sector landscape?
While it is true that our technology has a lot of potential in the space sector, our current growth strategy is directed towards sectors with lower homologation times, and we will start working on the space sector once we have some success stories. The best advice that we can give is that luckily enough, in Europe there is a very mature and complete ecosystem, which helps and supports the entrepreneur in the different steps of his journey. We have found great help in the Business Centers, different acceleration and mentoring programs, which have been guiding us towards different people, projects and organizations, which in turn have been opening additional doors for us at national and European levels. We are very grateful to everyone who has supported us along the way.
6- About SUN, why did you apply?
We got a recommendation from Simone Carli, from Science Park Graz, project partner of GALACTICA. He advised us to apply because they offer wonderful opportunities. We were able to get coaching sessions from Dominykas Stankevicius, with whom we have had a very pleasant time, and we want to thank him for his help, advice, and kindness.