Interview with Karl Lundahl
New VP Product Management at Smoltek
Karl Lundahl is taking on the new position as Vice President Product Management at Smoltek, with start this fall (2019). Karl has a long track record within the semiconductor, photovoltaic and electronic industry. In particular, Karl is bringing extensive experience in the field of advanced semiconductor packaging.
What makes Smoltek so interesting?
- I have spent almost my entire career in the semiconductor industry and I never cease to be fascinated by the possibilities of technology, products and market potential in this industry.
- As one of very few semiconductor companies in Sweden, I have therefore for a quite long time been interested in Smoltek as a company.
- In recent years, Smoltek's R&D team has also been able to considerably improve the technical performance of the company’s proprietary carbon-based nanofabrication technology. Adding an impressive track record for persons engage in the management team and board of directors, as well as last year’s successful introduction on the Swedish stock exchange market, makes me convinced that all the prerequisites are there in order to scale-up and to execute on Smoltek's business concept. I sincerely believe that the timing for Smoltek’s technology has come and I am super-excited to have the opportunity to come on-board and contribute to the development of the company.
How can you contribute to Smoltek's work to bring the company's innovations in semiconductor technology to the market?
- I have 15 years of experience in the semiconductor industry where I have worked in a variety of roles, from researcher and engineer to project manager and line manager. For the past 5 years, I have also been actively working on advanced semiconductor packaging, which is a niche (albeit a fairly large niche) of the semiconductor industry where Smoltek currently operates.
- I have hereby gained experience and understanding of the ecosystem and supply chain in the semiconductor industry in general, and especially within advanced semiconductor packaging. I have an established international contact network, not only at companies that are Smoltek's potential customers, but also customers' customers and their suppliers of machines, processes and materials.
- All in all, I think my background puts me in a quite good start-position in my work to identify technical and commercial opportunities and from there continue to manage and develop Smoltek's product offering.
What will be the biggest challenges in that work?
- The semiconductor industry's constant demand for miniaturization and higher performance is what currently drives the need for Smoltek's patented technology. There are already a number of concrete examples of very interesting opportunities to implement Smoltek's product offering where the technology has the potential to enable more high-performing, more robust, smaller and cheaper semiconductor components and systems.
- I think one of the main risks in my new position will be to not get lost in the vast number of business opportunities that exists in the semiconductor industry. I therefore believe that a significant challenge in my role as VP Product Management will be to make the right priorities so that the company's resources are concentrated on the application or applications that have the greatest potential to contribute to the business, both short term and long term.
- The primary task short-term, is of course, to contribute to that Smoltek starts to generate a positive cash flow. However, this needs to be achieved maintaining a long-term focus, perhaps even in new markets outside the semiconductor world.
What is your background?
- I have experience from semiconductor and related industries, working with the entire development process from conceptual idea to industrialization and subsequent production in high volumes. Although I have always worked in research-intensive roles, my work has often involved a close customer dialogue in the pursuit of developing technologies and products that are needed in the marketplace. I have also actively worked with intellectual property (patents) during my career, especially in recent years during my employment at Fingerprint Cards.
Which of these experiences will be the ones that add the most to the role of product manager?
- I believe that my background from different R&D positions in different niches of the semiconductor industry creates the prerequisites for me to quickly embrace and understand the fundamentals of Smoltek's technology and production processes. I believe that a deep understanding of technology is a good, if not a necessary starting point for being able to effectively execute on the commercial opportunities that exist, and to (equally important) actively avoid executing on the cases where the conditions are less optimal.
- An interesting insight that I also carry with me is that the time aspect is extremely important in the semiconductor industry. It is not enough to have the right product at the right price - if the time is not right, you will still find it very difficult to penetrate the market. The challenge here lies in the fact that the entire ecosystem must be mobilized simultaneously - from process suppliers, material suppliers, manufacturing companies and their customers.
- For some years now, it has been possible to see tendencies in such mobilization that are fully in-line with Smoltek's ambition to offer an enabling technology to facilitate the transfer of continued miniaturization from the IC to a more cost-effective solution within the domain of advanced semiconductor packaging. I think this movement is extremely exciting. One of my most important tasks when I am now joining Smoltek is to, together with my colleagues, propel this movement even further so that when the time is right, be ready with a product offering that can be delivered in (very) high volumes.
Karl Lundahl has more than 15 years of experience in applied research and development in the electronic, photovoltaic and semiconductor industry. His primary areas of work have been related to high-performance materials, manufacturing processes as well as product and business development. Karl also has experience in scaling up production from prototyping stage to (very) high volumes. He has also worked with innovations and intellectual property rights in high-tech companies. Karl is a named inventor or co-inventor of more than 20 patents. He holds a MSc in Chemical Engineering from Chalmers University of Technology.