Carlo Centonze is an entrepreneur, textile specialist and CEO of HeiQ, a Swiss based textile innovator company.
Carlo studied Biology and Forest Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich where he graduated in 2003. Shortly after that, he earned his Executive MBA at the University of St.Gallen in 2007.
After his service as army pilot he started his professional career as co-founder of the ETH Spin-off Myclimate where he took the role of Head of Marketing between 2002 and 2003. After that first contact with environmental and sustainable organizations, he went to co-found the textile innovator company HeiQ along with Dr Murray Height. As such, since 2004, he has served HeiQ as CEO, developing the firm from a two employee company to a 80+ employee company as of today.
Carlos was recently interviewed by Natascha Tummeley, from the digital Switzerland magazine where he explained the reasons why he decided to start HeiQ. He said: “In the summer of 2004, my friend Murray Height and I went hiking with our girlfriends in the Swiss mountains. After wearing for for five days the same Polyester T-Shirt our girlfriends kindly requested the ‘gentlemen’ to keep a walking distance of at least 100 meters ahead. We had a musty bynote indeed! That’s when we realized that there was an unsolved problem in the market for producing synthetic textiles that don’t develop malodours when wearing them for a long time. Having experienced this problem first hand and being two engineers, we quickly came up with a solution by creating a new material and technology that enabled us to functionalize synthetic textiles to stay odorless for days when worn! This technology laid the foundation for our company and the success we have today.”
Alongside his role as HeiQ’s CEO, Carlo Centonze has also being proactive with similar projects. He became board of Director of C8 Investments Ltd. for 3 years between 2012 and 2015. And more recently, in 2019, he has taken an active role as Member of the Board of Directors of scienceindustries, a Swiss based business association of chemistry and pharma life sciences as well as Chairman of The Board of ECSA Emanuele Centonze SA, the largest Swiss owned company specialized in the distribution of chemicals.
In a recent interview with Dinis Guarda, Carlo Centonze shared the following insights about innovation in the textile industry:
Sustainaiblity and Innovation: “The textiles industry is one of the biggest in the world but also one of the worst in terms of pollution, so when we created HeiQ we were after finding and researching innovative materials that were conscious with the ecosystem too. We had the chance to create HeiQ from scratch, our focus was entirely on a scientific approach, that is why it is so important for us to have the right talent. As of now we have a few dozen PhDs working with us. To bring innovation, we knew we had to be flexible, so that is why we set up the company in a way that would allow us to be as agile as possible. We also created an innovations division, which is critical in our business and a platform where to share information and findings to be able to find the right solutions.”
Regarding COVID-19 and Innovation in the textile industry: “We have created a bio-based solution, a material that is resilient to viruses like SARS-Cov-2 and other coronavirus and with this material we are now building facemasks and other products. HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 is an intelligent Swiss textile technology that is added to the fabric during the final stage of the textile manufacturing process. HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 has been tested according to ISO 18184 as strong antiviral and ISO 20743 as strong antibacterial against enveloped viruses and bacteria. It is estimated to have been applied to at least one billion face masks during the current global pandemic. With this innovation, HeiQ has won the Swiss Technology Award, crowned as Innovation Leader. HeiQ is the only company that has ever won this award more than once. The first time was in 2010 with Oilguard, a solution aimed at cleaning up oil from the ocean, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster and to mitigate the negative impact on marine lives.”
About HeiQ’s IPO. “It is a big step for HeiQ to go public and be listed in London. It is a big challenge for us but it is also an opportunity to broaden our reach worldwide and grow at a faster pace. We believe that through this IPO we will be able to grow our network and solve problems at a faster pace. At last, what we want is to have a bigger impact, which is very important. For example, our air purifying solution can have a big environmental impact as it can turn the curtain into an air purifier and breakdown 80% of indoor air pollutants, and going public can help us scale and deploy our solutions at a global scale.”