Technology transfer to industry: 2016 achievements
PX’Therapeutics focuses on new drug candidate
In the future, diabetics suffering from neuropathy (in their hands and feet, for example) could benefit from a new drug called atexakin, which regenerates damaged nerve fibers. Switzerland’s Relief Therapeutics Holding AG recently signed an agreement with Merck to develop, manufacture, and commercialize the drug. Merck then turned to Grenoble’s PX’Therapeutics to develop an efficient manufacturing process and to supply test batches of the drug for clinical trials.
This is a major contract for PX’Therapeutics, and will keep more than a third of the company’s employees busy for some time to come. An initial evaluation of the process has been completed, and development work is expected to commence in the coming days. Atexakin is a human protein made up of 185 amino acids—specifications that align perfectly with PX’Therapeutics’ know-how.
Enerbee takes to the air
Enerbee, a two-year-old startup specializing in micro-generators that harvest energy from movement, has turned a corner in its development. The company will now leverage its proprietary technology to develop self-powering connected ventilation systems, ultimately carving out a position on a high-added-value, IoT-related market. Enerbee will present a prototype at CES* Las Vegas in January.
The system is equipped with sensors to measure indoor air quality at the air vent and send the data collected in real time to regulate air flow and maintain optimal air quality.
Jocelyne Wasselin, formerly Enerbee’s head of engineering, was recently appointed COO and will orchestrate the company’s new strategy.
Leti working with GlobalFoundries on 22 nm FD-SOI
FinFET and FD-SOI are currently neck-and-neck in the race to further miniaturize CMOS circuits beyond the 28 nm node. And major market players will play a key role in determining which technology wins. Leti, which has been betting on FD-SOI for years now, recently joined the 22FDXAccelerator ecosystem created by GlobalFoundries, the world’s second-largest foundry.
The consortium, which brings together around 20 manufacturers and research institutes, promotes FD-SOI’s benefits: ultra-low power consumption, low cost, and better RF performance than FinFET. 22FDXAccelerator also develops enabling technologies and files patents to encourage manufacturers to switch to FD-SOI technology.
And certain pioneers have already made the shift: NXP for its new automotive platform and Sony for its next generation of GPS products.
Morphosense precision structural-health monitoring
In the future, major structures like bridges, dams, tunnels, railroad tracks, oceangoing vessels, cooling towers, and wind-turbine blades could be instrumented with Morphosense’s MEMS accelerometer networks.
Morphosense is a Leti spinoff founded in mid-2016 to develop a precision structural-health monitoring system leveraging ten years of R&D. The system, which consists of sensors mounted at strategic points of the structure being monitored, is capable of measuring in real time structural deformations of 100 microns per meter and vibration—both good indicators of structural health.
The company has signed a joint R&D contract with Leti for an automated calibration method and is currently focusing its sales efforts on Canada and Asia. An initial round of fundraising is planned within the next year.
Startup UroMems raises €14 million
UroMems, a startup founded in 2011 and housed at the BHT, has just completed a very impressive round of fundraising, bringing in €14 million in fresh capital. The company’s product—an artificial urinary sphincter implant that can be placed near the urethra—is a breakthrough innovation that could potentially help the 50 million people worldwide currently suffering from severe urinary incontinence.
The company’s technology is a better alternative than surgery, which often comes with serious side effects. It also features microsensors and processing electronics to adapt the implant to the patient’s physical activity in real time. UroMems tends to keep the details of its R&D under wraps, but does work closely with labs TIMC and TIMA.
National i-Lab competition recognizes four CEA Tech projects
Once again this year, CEA Tech startups have brought home a bumper crop of awards in the i-Lab national competition for innovative tech startups. A total of €820,000 will go to the following four projects:
• EnWires, founded in 2016, is developing new electrode materials for Li-ion batteries leveraging high-quality-silicon nanowires
• Sublimed, founded in 2015, is working on transcutaneous electrical neurostimulation to treat chronic pain
• Motion Recall, founded in 2016, is developing an action camera with 360-degree and 3D capabilities for consumer-grade virtual reality
• e-PiKure, a planned startup, is working on pain treatment with a system to stimulate the release of intracerebral endorphins
eLichens raises €3 million
Grenoble-based startup eLichens raised more than €3 million in fresh capital from six investors this summer, less than two years after the company was founded. The company specializes in optical microsensors and software to measure and monitor air quality and works with several research labs, including Leti. Backed by a solid patent portfolio, eLichens is targeting markets like manufacturing, smart cities, and IoT.
The company has signed several contracts with key players in these industries—a factor that certainly helped tip the balance when it came to winning over investors. The influx of funds will position eLichens to ship products to its first customers, hire new employees, and pursue R&D efforts to round out its technology portfolio.
Patents: CEA maintains activity in 2015
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) earned the number-one slot in the 2015 INPI (France’s industrial property institute) ranking in the French research institute category. The INPI published 658 CEA patent applications in 2015, up slightly from 2014 and 2013 (643 and 625 applications published, respectively). On average, the CEA Technological Research Division originates nearly 80% of patent applications, mainly in microelectronics and new energy technologies.
CNRS (France’s national center for scientific research) came in second with 390 patent applications published, just ahead of IFP. The CEA is also an active filer of patents with the European Patent Office. In 2015 the CEA ranked 33rd in Europe and second in France, just behind Technicolor.
The CEA is the only European research organization to figure in the top 50.
Aryballe Technologies sees fast development and raises €2.6 million
Just two years after it was founded, Aryballe Technologies has raised €2.6 million in fresh capital from five investors, including the CEA. The influx of funds will pay for industrial scale-up of the company’s product—a portable, universal odor detector—and the start-up of manufacturing operations in early 2017.
The new investors were won over by the startup’s rapid progress. Just two years in, Aryballe Technologies has already completed proof-of-concept testing, manufactured prototypes for testing by a company in the medical industry, and signed a distribution agreement for Japan. The company has also secured funding from the French Single Interministerial Fund for its R&D.
INAC, a stakeholder in the program, is also working with Aryballe Technology under R&D contracts to develop applications for the medical, environmental, food, and fragrance industries.
Diabeloop: “Pancreas 2.0” undergoes patient testing
Diabeloop: “Pancreas 2.0” undergoes patient testing
Grenoble-based startup Diabeloop is currently testing the second version of its smart artificial pancreas on 45 insulin-dependent diabetics. The system is unlike anything currently available on the market, and includes a blood glucose sensor, an insulin pump, and a smartphone installed with a Leti algorithm and patient interface. The patient interface manages the link between the sensor and pump.
Leti has substantially improved the calculation speed of the algorithm, which bioregulates insulin delivery. With the version currently being tested, the model is personalized and adjusts to the patient’s physiological data every five minutes. The previous version made the adjustment only once every 24 hours. Diabeloop hopes to release the second version of its artificial pancreas in 2017.
CEA is the world’s most innovative research organization
The latest Reuters Top 25 Global Innovators – Government list placed the CEA first among the world’s most innovative research institutions, ahead of the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and JST in Japan. The list is based on ten rock-solid indicators, which include the number of patent applications filed, the percentage of patents granted, global reach, and the number and percentage of patents cited. The study that produced this list covered the 2008–2013 period and takes into account patents filed with WIPO. CEA Grenoble’s contribution to the results is significant; the Grenoble site is where 70% of the organization’s patent applications originate. In 2015, CEA Grenoble filed 560 patent applications, mainly in microelectronics and renewable energy.
Startup: Motion Recall targets consumer virtual reality
Motion Recall, established at the beginning of 2016 by four partners from Leti and Delta Drone, is developing a GoPro-type action cam with novel virtual reality features. Users can film activities like hang-gliding and mountain climbing and later interact with the video footage, choosing an alternative viewing angle, adding real or fictitious characters to the scene, changing a person’s movements, and sharing the results locally or remotely. This consumer product leverages a decade of research in motion sensing, virtual reality, biomechanical models, and data processing and fusion conducted at Leti and List. The startup has signed an R&D contract with the CEA for 2016. By end-2018, the company will count 60 employees and will release its first camera, to be priced between €690 and €790.
Exagan to set up manufacturing base in Grenoble
Exagan, which specializes in power components, has just invested in an Extron 200 mm epitaxy machine, currently being installed at a site near Grenoble. The investment comes less than two years after the company was founded. The automated, multi-wafer equipment will produce the company’s innovative material, which combines gallium nitride and silicon using a buffer layer called G-Stack. The components will then be sent to foundry at Germany’s X-FAB before being assembled and tested by Exagan. This new phase anchors Exagan’s position as a full-fledged manufacturer and confirms the company’s choice of Grenoble for its home base—Exagan is headquartered at MINATEC and its manufacturing facility is nearby. The products manufactured will be sent to customers for sampling and technology qualification, which Exagan is hopeful will lead to the company’s first sales.
Third Innovation Marketing Day to be held on April 5
Come and discover the latest trends in high-tech/innovation marketing and the best practices behind the success stories at the third Innovation Marketing Day to be held at Maison MINATEC on April 5, 2016. You will also learn about how the innovation process works for startups, small and mid-sized companies, and large corporations.
The event, co-organized by CEA Tech and Grenoble Ecole de Management, will feature testimonials from companies like Serge Ferrari, Terradona, Docapost, Decathlon, Solvay, and Alstom. Innovation expert Marc Giget and designer Nicolas Nova will facilitate the day’s sessions. Some 300 attendees are expected.
The day will offer up a mix of theoretical and hands-on workshops, on topics ranging from demonstrator systems and prototypes to innovation business models. The event will wrap up with a tour of the CEA Tech showroom (advance registration required).
April 5, Maison MINATEC: The power of high-tech/innovation marketing to create value in a changing world.
Startup news: EnWireS targets the Li-ion battery market
Startup EnWireS, founded this year by an INAC researcher (who also happens to be a former INAC post-doc), is developing a breakthrough chemical process for making silicon nanowires. The startup plans to release its first products—innovative composite materials to boost the capacity and lifespan of lithium-ion batteries—in 2017. The materials will be more competitively-priced than the current international market leaders.
EnWireS is already providing labs with custom silicon nanowires for R&D use—the first service of its kind on the market.
EnWireS is currently located at INAC and has licensed three CEA patents. CEA Investissement is a founding shareholder.