As a young graduate of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at Ljubljana University, Tomi Ilijaš decided to take an uncertain path of entrepreneurship rather than a stabile position at a big electronic company. At the age of 25, he named the new company after his favourite star Arctur. His focus was always on a Hi-Tech innovation: from the pioneering in Internet in the early 90’s to High Performance Computing and new business models in HPCaaS two decades later. He and his team were successfully breaking the barriers in bringing HPC to manufacturing SMEs. Recently, his research has focused on transferring new technologies like HPDA, IoT and Blockchain from Industry 4.0 to the tourism and health sector. He was a member of EUROHPC Research & Innovation Advisory Group (RIAG) and member of PRACE Industrial Advisory Committee.
Why did you choose this profession and what motivated you to do it?
Engineering and science were always on the top of my interests. As a child I was reading books about kings and dragons and dreaming of becoming a discoverer of new worlds…. And now, as an entrepreneur, I have my own kingdom, many faithful knights and princesses, and we are using science to discover new ways to fight against modern dragons as cancer.
What is the role of ARCTUR within QUSTom??
Arctur’s main task is to optimise the code that classifies cancer taken with multimodal and real 3D imaging. The aim is to speed up the current kernel and, consequently the whole process of breast cancer diagnoses.
What do you hope QUSTom can achieve beyond the life of the project?
I truly believe that our research will continue to higher TRL levels and finally become a product that will significantly improve how we diagnose breast cancer and save thousands of women in Europe and elsewhere.
What does QUSTom mean to you?
As a research-oriented High-Tech company we have many R&D projects, but QUSTom is something special. When we were writing the proposal, my close friend and co-worker was diagnosed with cancer and lost his final battle just a few weeks after QUSTom’s Kick-off-Meeting. Some of his last words were: “I’m so proud that Arctur will fight back against this!” I think there is no need to explain how my team and I are motivated to do our best in this project.
How do you like it so far?
There is a special chemistry between partners. I’m sure that a big part of the merits goes to the charismatic coordinator, but the rest is surely the potential impact of our work. Imagine experts from various domains, from medicine to AI and electrical engineering, sitting together and discussing how to solve the problem. Every day, we learn from each other and try to find new passages to the unknown world.
Do you have any advice for young researchers who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Being a researcher and contribute to a better world is a privilege! You play in the best league in the world, with the sharpest minds of the modern world. You sail across unknown oceans, hoping to see the land soon. And when you reach the shore, you already start planning a new adventure. After a while, when you look back to your journey, you are proud of what you’ve done. And this makes your life meaningful.