We talked to Dr. Marcel Ottiger, CEO at Amphasys, about hybrid seed production, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Marcel Ottiger: Thanks, we are doing fine. So far, we have been lucky and were spared of infections. It is a big challenge though for everybody.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Amphasys.
Dr. Marcel Ottiger: I was always very interested in natural sciences. So I decided to study biology which led me to a Ph.D. in structural biology. To be the first person in the world to detect the three-dimensional atomic structure of macromolecules or enzymes is a most fascinating and rewarding topic. After an exciting stay at the National Institutes of Health in the USA for a post-doc together with my wife, I accepted a consulting position in Switzerland. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn a lot about real business. A few years ago, two long-time friends approached me with the idea to found Amphasys. Everything matched perfectly.
How does Amphasys innovate?
Dr. Marcel Ottiger: Innovation arises when bright, hardworking people have a common vision and the will to change things. I am happy to be part of a wonderful team of great minds who all believe that cells hold the key to a sustainable future by revolutionizing the way we live.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Dr. Marcel Ottiger: Covid basically cut our revenue in half. The aftermath still causes sleepless nights. On the other hand, we are more ready now than ever for the launch of new solutions. The difficult times have forced us to innovate even more and better and ultimately forged us into a well-performing team.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Dr. Marcel Ottiger: The challenges, and in particular the Covid crisis, have forged us together. Equally important is the trust and support from our investors. While our customers were dealing with their own challenges Covid has hit us in a sensitive growth phase. Sales have crumbled for a while. In spite of this, we have invested in the further development of our technology. We are now starting to see the benefits.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Marcel Ottiger: When you are founding and growing a new company you are constantly confronted with decisions. Many are difficult, mostly because you always struggle to push forward as rapidly as possible with limited resources. Steve Jobs once said that “the only way to do great work is to love what you do”. I am proud of a team of bright people, inspiring to work with. My team has become my second family. Both families are my source of passion to keep moving together.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Marcel Ottiger: Our brand stands for an innovative approach with a mobile “lab-on-a-chip” cytometer. It is something new on the market. We focus on our key customers and applications with clear advantages over the competition, for example, pollen analysis. We train and support the users to maximize the benefits of systematic cell quality monitoring in their production processes. The result is a community of happy customers that implement the technology throughout their production sites.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Marcel Ottiger: Population growth and climate change cause a huge challenge for agriculture and food production. In combination with the new megatrends “cellular agriculture”, “precision fermentation” and “regenerative medicine” there is an unprecedented and growing need for innovation in cell biology. Single-cell analysis is thus becoming a key technology to unleash the full potential of these trends.*
Our cytometer is the only device that is portable, fast, and provides all the detailed information needed, providing an excellent value for money. We empower seed companies, breweries, biofuel producers, milk processing factories, pharmaceuticals, and medical companies, to take faster, better, and data-driven decisions to save billions of Euros. More than 100 customers like BASF, Bayer, Corteva, Syngenta, Doppelleu Brewery, and many universities are proof that it works.
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