05. September 2017

From Young Entrepreneur to University Professor

The founder of Greateyes, Martin Regehly, sells his company for a new beginning in Brandenburg

Martin Regehly
Farewell to Adlershof: Martin Regehly is working as a university professor now
Martin Regehly has pulled the emergency brake on his express train life. After winning the national science competition “Jugend Forscht” at 20 and founding a company at 29, he is now starting anew as a university professor. Why this change of perspective from entrepreneurship to academia? He felt he needed to live his life and not let it pass him by. Born in 1978, Martin Regehly says his dreams have now become reality. After gaining research experience at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Science (LASP) in Boulder (Colorado), the PhD physicist founded greateyes GmbH in Adlershof together with the computer scientist Michael Menz as a spin-off from Berlin’s Humboldt-Universität in 2007. Greateyes, fittingly, produced high-resolution digital cameras for industrial or research application as high-precision detectors for imaging and spectroscopy. They could detect errors in wafers and solar cells and modules. It made greateyes a “shooting star”. For developing an unprecedented screening process of solar cells, the company received the Innovation Award Berlin-Brandenburg in 2010 and gained international repute. Consequently, Martin Regehly flew around the world to sell his cameras. The company grew from its two initial founders to 15 employees and so did its revenues. However, his company’s success came at a price. There was a lot of pressure on Regehly and less time to pursue his passion of trying out new ideas in the developer lab. Instead, his every-day life consisted of customer acquisition, sealing business deals, ensuring liquid funds and administrative tasks. On the weekend, his mind was literally at work. The stress started to sap his health. He needed breathing space and time to take care of his family. Martin Regehly dared to start again. He always liked to share knowledge with others and had six years of teaching experience from the Wildau University of Applied Science, so he applied at several universities. He started working as a professor for ophthalmic optics and optical instrument engineering at the University of Applied Science (THB) in May. “It takes some courage to say that I can build it all up again,” says Regehly. Initially, he is fully occupied with providing students with interesting and lively education. But research activity will follow. “The workload will be similar, but I won’t take the pressure home with me,” says Regehly. To shorten the commute, he moved to Brandenburg with his family. But what about his baby, greateyes? “I thought at length about what I was leaving behind, when I stop,” he says in retrospect. He decided to sell greateyes to a medium-sized company in Adlershof. His demands: guarantee of employment for the current staff and headquarters in the Technology Park. “Adlershof is fantastic place,” he says and adds: “I wish to thank all my partners, colleagues and friends in Adlershof for the last ten years.” Before he came to the interview, he had visited an old colleague. “The company is doing well.” You can tell by his voice that he is proud of his past accomplishments, but also wistful about what he left behind. “I am more of a physicist than a manager,” he has realised. Regehly sees his strengths at the interface of science and industry. “My driving force is to pursue interesting ideas and to foresee technological developments and bring them to application,” he says. He already has new ideas and is not ruling out founding a start-up with his students in the near future. His relationship with Adlershof will not end there. In two or three years, he might go back as a juror on the South Berlin regional competition of “Jugend Forscht”. By Sylvia Nitschke for Adlershof Journal