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Start-up generation

Jordi Martorell and Noemí Balà

CEO and CTO, Cofounders of Aortyx

Jordi Martorell studied Chemical Engineering at IQS and did his master’s and PhD work at IQS and MIT. He has been the youngest professor at the IQS School of Engineering for 5 years and, since 2017, the head of a research group. Noemí Balà studied Chemistry at the UB and has a master in Pharmaceutical chemistry from IQS. While doing the final project for her master’s degree, at IQS and MIT, she started working with Jordi. After that, she started the PhD program, continuing with the same line of research, the basis for starting up Aortyx in 2018, where they are currently CEO and CTO.

“Triple whatever you think something will cost: it’s very expensive to move things forward”

09.06.2020

Aortyx, a start-up created through a collaboration between IQS and Hospital Clinic Barcelona, is developing a medical device for non-invasive treatment of the most deadly aorta diseases: aortic dissection and aortic aneurysm.

 

Why did you want to be an entrepreneur?

Jordi Martorell: I decided to go into research so I could contribute new solutions for patients with vascular conditions. (Almost) the only way for this research to become a real solution is to become an entrepreneur and do it yourself. If you want to make your dreams come true, they have to stop being dreams and you have to give it everything you’ve got.

Noemí Balà: Since I was very little, I knew I wanted to do something that would help me find solutions for people with diseases. Research is key to this process, but it is a slow path and often very complicated in terms of funding. Even though entrepreneurship isn’t easy, it is a more personal challenge. You have to put in a lot of hard work, but it’s also very gratifying.

 

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

When you’re an entrepreneur, you need lots of other companies who bring you the goods or services that you don’t have access to initially. There’s a cloud of suppliers of these goods and services in our ecosystem, and sometimes it isn’t easy to differentiate between the ones that can help and the ones that can’t. For most of the things we’ve needed, we’ve given the same project (manufacturing a prototype, for example) to two companies and compared the results. Although ‘experimenting’ has been expensive, it has allowed us to choose the suppliers we now trust and move forward more confidently.

 

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

Triple whatever you think something will cost. In Catalonia, we tend to underestimate what things cost and try to do them with the bare minimum. If I’ve learned anything from the American entrepreneurial ecosystem, it’s that it’s very expensive to move things forward. If you run out of money because you settled for a round of funding that was too small, you’ll die along the way.

 

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

Our next milestone is to reach design freeze on our first product. We’re nearly there!