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“I never expected this.”


Theory becomes an exciting practice. How 22-year-old EMPA trainee Tine Kalac became part of a unique innovation project.


You had only been in Switzerland for a few months before you enrolled in a business concept course. Why was that?

The timber industry has two sides – a traditional one with familiar tools and distribution channels. But wood as a material also has an interface with the world of high- tech. I wanted to find out what the Swiss start-up ecosystem has to offer in this respect.

What happened next?

We were asked to make a pitch. Together with a colleague, I chose an EMPA R&D project with industrial partner Koster AG Holzwelten.

What was that about?

Fissured wood – grained by fungi but yet not rotten – is hard to find and extremely expensive. It is mainly used as a decorative element in furniture, fittings, or jewelry. The team from EMPA and Koster Holzwelten has found a way to cultivate the fungi and apply them directly to sawn wood. So I got in touch with Jakob Koster and he immediately said he was willing to support us and our pitch. Finally, we presented various sales scenarios in the form of a business plan.

Where do you go from here?

That depends on Jakob Koster and his strategic considerations. As for me, I plan to return to Ljubljana in the fall and complete my studies. But if the “Mycoline” project needs me, I will be delighted to stay on in Switzerland.


Tine Kalac hat am Business Concept Kurs im Herbst 2019 teilgenommen.