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Start-up generation

Neus Sabaté
Neus Sabaté

Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor of Fuelium

She studied Physics at the University of Barcelona and got her PhD in this field in 2003. Throughout her career, however, she has focused on electronic micro devices and, in recent years, micro electrochemical power sources. She is currently an ICREA professor at the Barcelona Microelectronics Institute.

Neus Sabaté: “Doing research and entrepreneurship at the same time is exhausting, but it does generate new opportunities”


Fuelium is developing and marketing single-use batteries for diagnostic devices. Their technology makes it possible to manufacture batteries with the same processes used in lateral flow tests (such as pregnancy tests). The battery is activated when its paper core gets wet. With a diagnostic device, this can be triggered by the sample being analyzed. Neus Sabaté, co-founder and scientific advisor of Fuelium, shares her history and short-term goals.


Why did you want to be an entrepreneur?

My main motivation lies in giving back to the industrial fabric in the country through the financial return on my research. I think it is essential for applied research to get out of the laboratory and be used to set up new companies and, therefore, create qualified jobs.


What is the most important strategic decision you’ve made so far?

My first instinct when I founded Fuelium with my partners was to stop researching and throw myself completely into the business adventure. In the end, I decided to do both, with the resulting stress and exhaustion of starting up a spin-off while working as a group leader at the IMB. Now, I’m happy I did this because I can see that, by continuing with the research, I can come up with new devices that may lead to even more business opportunities.


What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

More than advice, I always try to remember one saying: success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.


And now what? What milestones do you want to achieve in the short term?

My research group has developed a patch that can measure sweat conductivity using a smart paper battery. We’ve found two possible applications (measuring dehydration and screening for cystic fibrosis) and I’m excited to see them progress to market.