How did a young scientist turn into a passionate chemist, why is it worthwhile to work in Slovakia, and how does InoBat Auto make my ‘battery’ dreams come true?
An astronaut, a garbage man, a teacher, a doctor, a veterinarian or a singing idol. Those are the most frequent answers to the question of what we’d like to become when we grow up. What is the reality, a few years down the line, and how many children truly achieve their professional dreams? And what is the reason, exactly, that the reality is so different once we become adults?
The truth is that when children start to think about their future career, they judge various professions by a different set of criteria than those they would use as adults. I think that’s one of the main reasons why people fail to go after their dreams and, once they grow up, start working in a different field altogether. For example, the person who used to dream of becoming an astronaut can become a lawyer, the garbage man turns into a CEO of a thriving company, and the teacher starts working as an accountant. Life writes different stories, but the nicest thing about our childhood dreams is that they are not restricted by reality and the boundaries we come to face in our adulthood. Sometimes, however, there are exceptions to the rule — when childhood wishes are big enough that a person does everything to the best of their ability to make their dreams come true, even while they’re still young. I’m extremely glad that I can call myself one of these exceptions, and that my dreams have become a reality thanks to InoBat Auto.
HOW A YOUNG SCIENTIST BECAME A PASSIONATE CHEMIST
I’d like to start with a memory, one from my time studying at Gymnasium Botičská in Prague. In 1992, I had my first chemistry lesson with professor Říhová. It was her who set me on my path. Her teaching was the perfect fit for me, and, even 28 years later, I still recount all the experiments we did in her lessons. It may sound a little silly, but it was this first chemistry lesson that helped me find my direction in life. It fascinated me so greatly that I went to buy my very first lab kit on the same day. Afterwards, my home experiments could begin in earnest! As years went by, I continued walking on my wishful path towards becoming a chemist, and I worked hard to profile myself in specific areas within the sector.
THE GOAL WAS CLEAR: UPGRADE ELECTRIC VEHICLE BATTERIES TO A HIGHER LEVEL
Let’s move a little closer to the present. As time passed, I shifted my focus to the area that fascinated me the most. Since 2004, I have been working on the development of new materials for Li-ion batteries, used in electric vehicles. Batteries sparked my interest at the Czech Academy of Sciences, which continued to the University of Munster, and further to BMW in Munich. Across all these places, my goal was the same — trying to find completely new, or improve the current, battery components for electric vehicles, in a way that would make them better, more secure, more powerful, and also more affordable. Another one of my professional breakthroughs happened last year.
A PATH TO MAKE MY “BATTERY DREAMS” COME TRUE
This professional breakthrough took me by surprise, at the end of 2019. That’s when I first took notice of InoBat Auto, a Slovak company that immediately captured my attention. I was captivated with the idea of research, production and manufacturing of batteries for a variety of purposes, in the very heart of Europe — in Slovakia. Looking back, I almost feel like I stumbled upon the company by a stroke of fate. I got an offer to help them with their research that summer, and I agreed with no hesitation. It was not only a chance to move forward in my career, but also an opportunity to develop my own battery. Moreover, InoBat Auto had already established a cooperation with Wildcat Discovery Technologies, a leading US firm that I’d had a chance to work with, back in Munich. Their cooperation made me confident that while I’d be working on my dream battery, I would have access to the best materials and components available in the current market. Together, we can find the most suitable combination for the manufacturing of prototypes, and future mass production, in a much shorter time. And that’s a huge advantage — time is a crucial factor in how successful we can all become. Don’t you agree?
SLOVAK INOBAT WILL BE THE FIRST OF ITS KIND, AND BEING A PIONEER IS ALWAYS DIFFICULT
I think we’re currently witnessing the greatest developments in battery production in Europe. Concurrently, several new companies with European capital are being established, and big Asian firms are planning to build and open branches in Poland, Hungary, Germany and other countries. But the biggest milestone, for me, is the founding of InoBat Auto — it has incredible courage, but also innovative and ambitious thinking, which will advance Slovakia, and the world, in the area of electromobility. InoBat Auto decided to build its first R&D centre in Slovakia, and also establish a pilot line for the production of batteries tailored to car manufacturers — which will make it the first of its kind, globally. Being a pioneer is always difficult. I’m sure, however, that InoBat will accomplish its goals, and I’m glad to be involved in these efforts.
INVESTMENTS THAT WILL DRAW THE ATTENTION OF SCIENTIFIC TEAMS FROM SLOVAKIA, BUT ALSO THE WORLD
Let me elaborate on another significant factor — investments. Without those, the realisation of such a complex and large project wouldn’t be possible. Since in InoBat Auto, we have decided to develop our own batteries and tailor them to vehicle manufacturers’ personal needs, it entails a huge investment in development. I’m certain that an investment like this will draw the attention of scientific teams not just from Slovakia and the surrounding countries, but the chance to work on battery development will also attract young people worldwide. On top of that, it will entice other innovative companies, without which the production of our batteries would be hardly feasible. And when it comes to the question of collaboration, there is one more important element to consider — the collaboration with universities and the Slovak Academy of Sciences. If we want to launch this big-scale development in Slovakia, collaborations like these can bring advantages not only to our own society, but to all the contributing parties.
Any parting words? 28 years later, thanks to InoBat Auto, I’m still convinced that pursuing chemistry and battery development was the best decision in my life. Even after such a long time, this area remains my passion. I’d also like to stress the importance of cooperation between the worlds of science and research, which must not be forgotten. Scientists, chemists, physicists and material specialists are the ones who can offer us innovative perspectives on issues faced by Li-ion batteries. We should establish contacts and have discussions even with those that, at first glance, have little in common with our field. In our scientific research of new materials, let’s also remember that the future InoBat Auto factory will need hundreds of kilograms of different materials, too.
I can’t wait for this next chapter in my life, and I believe that InoBat Auto will help my professional dreams come true. Fingers crossed!
Head of Science, InoBat Auto