Charlotte Kjellander

Scientist and manager at TNO & co-founder and managing director of startup Touchwaves

‘What we initiated through research within TNO, we are now bringing to life in a spin-off company.’

She is a material scientist, who came from Sweden to the Netherlands for her PhD. ‘I originally specialise in liquid crystal displays. Think of it as organizing molecules in layers. It is what I still do, only the materials have changed over the years. I now work with textiles, plastics, metal, you name it.’

At the Holst Centre, a department of TNO in Eindhoven, she leads a team working on the future of wearable electronics. ‘Leading the team, it is easy. Everybody is so motivated. And we have an international team, with people from all ages.’ She used to work for TNO fulltime, though now it is just one day a week. All other hours go into Touchwaves, a TNO spin-off she co-founded in January 2023 to take one of these wearable innovations to market: the MYSA shirt.

MYSA shirt

‘We really want to help people with this product. Our shirt is designed to support therapy. By using high level technology, this vest becomes a companion for dealing with stress and anxiety. Basically it is an undergarment with vibration motors integrated; using hybrid printed electronics. You can wear it, wash it, and it fits under your regular clothes. The integrated motors send soft waves of touch over your back; supporting you in breathing exercises. The touch gets you out of your head and into your body. By changing your breathing you affect everything, muscles, organs, nervous system. It is all connected.

We are working with therapist organisations in the Netherlands, setting up a pilot this year with young people suffering from anxiety. Studies show that anxiety is affecting more people and at a younger age, from 10 years old even. And waiting lists for therapy continue to grow. Anxiety can ultimately lead to panic attacks, social isolation and can even lead people to hurt themselves or become suicidal.’


‘My passion for the project is personal. When I was 18 I contracted meningitis, an infection of the brain membranes. I survived, but to this day I suffer from chronic headaches. The only thing that actually helps is body awareness. That sounds simple, deceptively so. It has taken me twenty years to get a grip on it. The MYSA shirt is something that could have been a huge support in the process.’


‘It has always been my dream to start my own company. Still, I hesitated to make the jump. I really like TNO and my team, it was hard to leave that behind. Also, I used to believe that as an entrepreneur I would need to be able to provide a full solution, all by myself. Now I am a lot more experienced and secure enough to know that I do not need to be an expert in all things. As long as I know who to call and what experts to connect with. That is something I definitely learned at TNO.’

World of difference

‘The way I see it both at TNO and at Touchwaves we are creating the future, just in a different way. At TNO my role is focused on the technical aspect. In my own business, I am responsible for all aspects, from the product research to setting up a supply chain, branding, raising funds… It is a world of difference. I am stepping out of my comfort zone a couple times a day. And though it is hard work, it is fascinating and never dull. It is a whole new adrenaline kick to see an innovation make a difference for the customer, that is what feeds me.’

Tech Transfer programme

To start our spin-off, we were guided by TNO’s Tech Transfer programme. That supports ideas for ventures and help you get started. The support I got from the Tech Transfer team and startup community has helped me grow a lot this year.

At Touchwaves, we are a team of three women, though that was purely coincidental. Having three female founders does make us stand out in the start-up community’, she adds jokingly.

Recently Touchwaves also joined the accelerator programme of imec, a Belgian research institute and cofounder of Holst Centre. The plan with Touchwaves is to launch the MYSA shirt in 2025. ‘It is ambitious, but realistic.’