Experience Interview


Innovation Office Training – Juan Castilla-Archilla

  • What made you join the Innovation Office Training?

    During my PhD, I was working on different research projects between academia and industry, related to scaling up various waste valorisations, especially wastewater. I wanted to follow a similar approach for lignocellulose valorisation, however back then I noticed gaps and challenges in this approach. I decided to follow a PhD to gain a deeper knowledge in this field. After my PhD, working as postdoctoral researcher I’m trying to close some gaps for lignocellulosic valorisation. I’ve tried to develop a new process that it works well at lab scale, and I would like to scale it up to pilot level. That was the perfect time to get the opportunity to join the Innovation Office Training.

  • What were the main challenges in bringing your research/idea into practice?
    The main challenge is that my project requires technologies (i.e. upstream pretreatment) which are not available in Ireland and can only be found in Belgium, Finland or USA.
    I will need to implement such technology in a continuous manner to evaluate the overall process and obtain a number of products large enough to further test their final application targeting animal food and human feed industries.
  • How did the Innovation Office help you in your innovation process?

    It helped me to challenge my idea and define the novelties of the innovation process. This was clear to me, but I didn’t realise that even communication around these novelties was complicated and sometimes not presented in an impactful way.

    Furthermore, all the different trainings and exercises provided numerous tools we could consider contributing to improve and shape the idea from the lab to the industrial goal I would like to reach. Additionally, interaction with the other participants was outstanding and the networking opportunities deriving from the research office and the trainers has heped my ideas keep moving and improve.

    Currently, I’m focused on developing my project at pilot scale with the help of the innovation office.

  • What are your three main takeaways from joining the Innovation Office Training (they can be both positive and negative)?
    1. Introduction to many tools to develop and idea and kick-start innovation (i.e., market research report, business canvas…)
    2. Networking and interaction with the speakers and other participants of the programme
    3. The course provided us with a lot of information in a short period of time. This, in combination with all the proposed activities, sometimes ended up being overwhelming. Maybe having a short break after each module could have helped in digesting and assimilating the content. That being said, I’m still in contact with the research office and getting help from them whenever I need it!