Business idea: Laser-based synchronisation systems and ultrashort pulse laser systems

Industry: Ultra-short pulse laser technology

Year founded: 2015

The start-up develops laser-based synchronisation systems for large-scale research facilities and ultrashort pulse laser systems for applications in the life sciences sector


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Cycle: With long breath from the idea to the foundation

Franz Kärtner (fourth from left) is founder, professor of physics at the University of Hamburg and head of the Department of Ultrafast Laser and X-ray Physics at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY). He founded Cycle in 2015, but the idea for the technology had been in his focus for much longer. He started researching the basics during his time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the early 2000s and had already founded his first spin-off company from MIT with colleagues in the USA, but the market for the technology was not yet available. Since 2011 he has been at DESY, where the components and synchronization units have been brought to market maturity and market development with further developments. Cycle develops and builds laser-based synchronization systems for large-scale research facilities as well as ultrashort pulse laser systems for applications in the life science sector.

Based on science, what lessons have you learned?

In order to found from science, you have to keep in mind that you often have to have a long breath. Products that come from basic research often still have considerable development needs and thus considerable investment costs before a marketable product is available. In addition, there is often no large market for very innovative products, as the understanding of possible completely new applications in industry is still lacking.

What do you recommend to other founders?

A good business plan and a balanced founding team. You also need patience and stamina.

How important is the network on the research campus for you?

The network is important for a quick and easy exchange of information about all typical problems in the field of start-ups and experiences with other start-ups.

What will Cycle do in 5 years? What are the company’s goals?

Clearly: We want to be an innovative, medium-sized company in ultra-short pulse laser technology with a diverse product portfolio in 5 years. Today we are 15 colleagues and on a stable growth course.

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