Erik Abbenhuis has worked with catalysts for fifteen years. Now, he’s ready to leave the university and concentrate full time on being an entrepreneur running his own company, Hybrid Catalysis. “Running a business operation, I feel like I’m more involved in society. Now, at parties, I can also talk about taxes and staff matters, instead of just molecules,” he says.
Hybrid Catalysis improves or replaces catalysts for companies. In cases where a replacement catalyst is needed, it can be developed under direct company control, using a new raw material. That new material will be better because you can make more selective and efficient catalysts with it; the building blocks can be perfectly molecularly defined.
To hear Abbenhuis tell it, Hybrid Catalysis was started like a mom-and-pop store. “We had 18,000 euros to set up our limited liability company,” he says. “And, in fact, we never suffered any losses and now make a profit every year. Lots of startups have plans that factor in years of investments before they start making any money. We never went through that.” Hybrid Catalysis was able to become profitable so quickly because it also performs contract research and develops robotic technologies that allow companies to test and compare the catalysts they are using.