Liam Hardey, with a promising football career and studies in business management, applied for the 2020 Entrepreneurs in Residence trainee program. There, he tackled the challenges in an inspiring and engaging manner, and since the program’s conclusion, he’s been leading the innovative company, Cellfion.

What does Cellfion do?

Cellfion enables new energy applications through its development of a bio-based membrane. This membrane serves as a component for various aspects of clean energy technology, used in large-scale energy storage like batteries or hydrogen applications. What’s unique about the product is that, compared to its fossil-based predecessors, it’s the first bio-based membrane to be commercialized.

“It’s challenging to explain and pitch our product to those who aren’t familiar with it. That’s one of our challenges, but we’re dealing with a component for clean energy, you could say,” explains Liam Hardey.

The idea, originating from the trainee program’s idea portfolio, stems from research conducted at institutions like Linköping University. Without hesitation, he mentions that it feels right. It creates a balance within the company and gives him the ability to assess the technology and product in an impartial manner.

Liam explains, ‘We have researchers developing the membranes, and then there’s me, coming from the business and marketing side, saying, “Now let’s develop a product and try to build a company.” It’s not just about producing and selling; you have to build the entire infrastructure.’

How did you get in touch with Entrepreneurs in Residence?

The memory brings a smile to his face. He was a bit lucky. At a career fair Liam spontaneously attended, he met representatives from LEAD. They pitched the program to him, and he submitted an application. By this time, Liam, born and raised in the UK, had lived in Sweden for nearly six years, but he admits his Swedish wasn’t what it is today. However, the idea of a language barrier hindering him wasn’t on the table. Ready to take on new challenges, he applied for the program, and later, when everything fell into place, he realized he had made the right decision. Full of ideas and anticipation, he dove into the program wholeheartedly.

Taking Flight

Scary and nerve-wracking. Those are the words Liam uses to describe how it felt to start Cellfion. Many decisions had to be made, and everything needed to fall into place. However, it soon became clear that he would take on the role of CEO. CEO at 24. Liam admits the title felt odd initially, but today it’s part of his daily life. He wakes up and goes to work, just like everyone else. The nervousness he felt earlier dissipated quickly. It wasn’t as daunting as he had thought, an insight that helped him make more courageous decisions. He mentions he often thinks, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

The continuation of Cellfion wasn’t always certain. During Entrepreneurs in Residence, the project was almost scrapped. The technology was challenging to grasp. But just before the project was about to be halved, something happened. Liam and the other participants realized that Cellfion had traction, and they decided to retain the idea. A breakthrough occurred. Interest increased drastically, and two months later, Liam called for a meeting with shareholders and idea owners, proposing they start a company. He’s humble, emphasizing again that luck played a role in the outcome. However, an incredible entrepreneurial spirit, bold decisions, and a lot of hard work lie behind the result.

Cellfion is a prime example that things don’t always go as planned, much like a great metaphor for many entrepreneurial journeys. Entrepreneurship demands flexibility and a hefty dose of determination.

The key is not to give up. Liam looks back on Entrepreneurs in Residence and the start of Cellfion with joy.

“It’s proof that things don’t always go as planned, and it’s that flexibility that’s needed. But also, it’s about not giving up just because things don’t go as initially envisioned. It’s been an amazing experience, and I’m really glad we persisted with Cellfion.”

LEAD’s Contribution

Liam is grateful. Without LEAD, he wouldn’t have discovered Cellfion. He mentions learning a lot about entrepreneurship and building companies, seeing it as a huge advantage being with LEAD. The office environment is filled with entrepreneurs who possess a plethora of ideas, fostering many interesting discussions. If a question arises, business coaches are readily available. However, Liam emphasizes the importance of understanding that LEAD won’t do the job for you. As an entrepreneur, there’s a significant responsibility on your shoulders. You have to drive your company. He believes this can sometimes be forgotten.

A Challenging Industry

The challenges of running a startup are numerous. You never know what will happen tomorrow, in a week, or in a month. The uncertainty is tough, but it’s also what Liam finds enjoyable about his job. However, it’s difficult. Research very rarely has a finished technology, and it’s both complicated and frustrating to bring research to commercialization. Running a startup, in other words, demands a lot of responsibility and a huge amount of patience. You start from scratch, and it’s crucial not to give up.



Liam says, ‘I don’t think there’s any education that can prepare someone to become an entrepreneur; it’s about perseverance. It’s just about continuing and seeing what happens and creating your own luck. No one remembers if you fail.’

The goal, of course, is for Cellfion to grow. Liam talks about scaling up the product and mentions a pilot factory. At the same time, he knows the importance of a strong and well-functioning team, so recruitment is in full swing. He wants to build an amazing company and understands he can’t do it alone. The team is crucial.

Liam knows what needs to be done, and he’s ready.