Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE, 49, started M Squared in 2006 with Dr Gareth Maker, 53, having previously spun out optoelectronics firm Microlase from the University of Strathclyde. The Glasgow-based photonic and quantum technology company designs and manufactures lasers and other light-based instruments for diverse applications in frontier science, quantum technology, biophotonics and chemical sensing. M Squared ranked at number 79 in the 2017 Sunday Times Tech Track 100, its second appearance on the league table
What inspired you to start your business?
A deep curiosity in the physical world and excellent guidance from my physics teacher at school – the late, great Mr Caughey. My academic path led me to a PhD in solid-state lasers at the University of Strathclyde. Laser physics seemed like the future to me back then, and I wanted to start a business that could take these concepts out of the laboratory and realise real-world, societal benefits.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The UK is home to some of the best and most talented scientific minds of our time, but quantum physics isn’t for everyone. Recruiting almost exclusively those with physics PhDs, we have at times been challenged to find the quantity of talent with the necessary skills needed to grow. That said, we are lucky to have attracted a fantastic scientific team, that is still growing.
What has been your best business decision?
The power of science to change the world for the better cannot be understated. Through technological advancements, humanity has made great leaps forward. Creating an organisation like M Squared that can harness the theoretical and test concepts usually confined to physics journals, bringing them into the real world to solve problems, is the best business decision I ever made.
What has been your worst business decision?
Now that is a tricky question, and it’s not tricky because I don’t make bad decisions. However, I see errors and failures as a critical part of making progress, so I quickly move on from them. M Squared operates with an agile mindset; it’s a culture of constant planning, action, reflection and improvement to drive forward technological progress and to empower our teams.
Which business leader would you most like to share a meal with, and why?
I’d very much like to meet Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer. Jony is responsible for all design at Apple and it would be fantastic to learn more about his approach, as well as hearing the inside story of Apple.
What company do you most admire, and why?
I have great admiration for the community of high-tech, innovative, companies that call Glasgow home. Within the city, there is a world-leading hub of businesses at the forefront of technological advancement that have made a significant contribution to science and Glasgow.