The path from academic research to valued software for industrial use

Anders Engstroem

ThermoCalc, Sweden


Dr. Anders Engström is the Chief Executive Officer for Thermo-Calc Software AB, a position he has held for over ten years. Thermo-Calc Software is a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) founded in 1997 that develops and distributes computational tools for use in the field of materials engineering. The company, which originates from research started in the mid-1970s at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), provides licenses and connected services worldwide to customers in industry, government and academia.

Anders received his Doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering from KTH in 1996. During his time at KTH, he was involved in the early development of key aspects of the DICTRA software. After graduating from KTH, Anders spent two years (1997-1998) with ABB Corporate Research in Switzerland and three years (1998-2001) working for Sandvik Hard Materials, Sweden. During this time, Anders gained a variety of specialized knowledge ranging from cemented carbides to Ni-base superalloys before he joined Thermo-Calc Software in 2001.

Thermo-Calc’s headquarters and main development office is located in Stockholm, Sweden. There are also wholly-owned subsidiaries in the USA and South Korea, and offices in Canada, Germany, Switzerland and UK, plus local partners based in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, and Turkey. In total, Anders leads of team of 50 scientists, where the majority hold a Ph.D. from several international universities.

Thermo-Calc Software is globally well-recognised by leading researchers and engineers for its products, which include Thermo-Calc and add-on modules for diffusion (DICTRA) and precipitation (TC-PRISMA), plus more than 30 specialized thermodynamic and kinetic databases. With more than 1700 sites, customers in over 60 countries are using the software and database tools to address key challenges such as the need to reduce production costs, accelerate development and time to market, and to find innovative ways to minimize the environmental impact. Anders is an expert in the CALPHAD (Computer Coupling of Phase Diagrams and Thermochemistry) methodology, which serves as the foundation of ICME (Integrated Computational Materials Engineering) and the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI).


The path from academic research to valued software for industrial use

Thermo-Calc Software is an international small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) founded in Sweden in 1997 that develops materials engineering computational tools for use in a variety of scientific and technical fields and within the academic, governmental, and industrial sectors. The company’s origins are based on innovative research that began in the mid-1970s at the Swedish KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

For over 25 years, Thermo-Calc has continued to be a leading global supplier of data and specialized software tools. In addition, the company offers related services such as technical support and training, and regularly participates and collaborates in many research projects across all sectors. Our value proposition is a licensed computational tool that allow materials research engineers and others to generate and analyze the data needed to accelerate innovation, optimize processing conditions, and make it viable to reach more profitable and sustainable operations.

From the very beginning, the company has steadily grown in size and continues to be on the leading edge of research and development to meet the ever-changing and challenging technological landscape. In this presentation the author will share some experiences and lessons learned during the process of turning academic research into a commercially viable software business, and then continuously evolve that business through various stages. This will include a discussion on success factors and challenges.