Technology transfer to industry: 2018 achievements
Bringing chronic heart failure patients home for good
A powerful new remote monitoring system could track heart failure patients’ blood levels right from their homes. Startup CardioRenal has been working with Leti since 2015 to develop just such a system. This summer, the partners ramped up their collaboration by creating a joint lab to make improvements to a lab-on-chip leveraging microfluidics and optical and electrochemical sensors. The goal is to scale the technology up to be able to launch clinical trials next year.
Fine-tuning a patient’s drug doses once they have been released from the hospital is tricky. Kidney failure and pulmonary edema are two of the major risks physicians must head off. The future device will be able to run the necessary tests from just a single drop of blood. The blood tests will make fine-tuning drug doses easier, reducing the number of stressful and costly hospital stays.
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Avalun ramps up production at MINATEC
LabPad®, Avalun’s “pocket lab,” is currently sold around the globe, with customers in Germany, Italy, the UK, the Czech Republic, South Africa, and other countries. The startup recently decided to automate its consumables manufacturing line at the BHT building in MINATEC campus. The robotized machine recently commissioned can produce 15,000 blood coagulation tests per day, up from 1,500 previously. The increased production capacity will meet growing demand from doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, and individuals looking for a coagulation test solution that saves them the step of taking samples to a lab.
Avalun, which currently has 21 employees, will focus on manufacturing and sales over the next few months. At the same time, the company is working on obtaining the CE mark for its new tests. Finally, Avalun is partnering with Leti on the e-Meuse Santé project to develop remote healthcare solutions for rural areas.
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Biomedical research: Eveon and LMGP set up joint lab
Eveon and LMGP have been working together for several years through the Grenoble Institute of Technology-Phelma Biomedical Engineering program. Today, the partners are ramping up their collaboration through a joint lab funded by the Grenoble-Alpes University IDEX. The lab will investigate the impact of different materials and fluidics processes on the stability of therapeutic proteins. Eveon develops and manufactures automated medical systems for preparing and administering drugs that could contain the proteins being studied.
The main challenge is medical: If the proteins adsorb or clump together, their activity can be diminished. There is also a more strategic challenge, however. The joint lab will advance scientific knowledge of the phenomena at work so that Eveon can offer its customers the optimal system for the drug being administered.
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ISKN raises capital, announces new hires, and launches three new products
Grenoble-based startup ISKN recently completed its second round of fundraising, bringing in €10.5 million in fresh capital. The funds helped kick off several major projects at the company. First, ISKN will hire twelve new employees before year’s end. The new hires, mainly R&D engineers, will expand the company’s current 40-strong workforce. Next, the company will launch three new products in 2019. The first two address illustrators and designers, much like the ISKN Slate launched in 2015. They will instantly bring drawings on paper to life digitally. The third product, developed in partnership with a global corporation, will be for fun cognitive development games. ISKN was founded to commercialize its own product. This latest project will open the company’s augmented interaction technology up to new applications.
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Kalray raises €47.7 million through IPO
Ten years after the company was founded, Kalray has raised €47.7 million through an IPO, giving the company the resources it will need to finance its projects for the coming years. The first priority will be technology development on Kalray’s third-generation manycore processor. The Coolidge processor is expected to be released in 2019 and will target two markets. First, the new processor will address the needs of data centers, where the arrival of flash memory has sent demand for processing power through the roof. It will also address the automotive industry, both for today’s feature-packed vehicles and the urgent need to combine many small processors into one, as well as for the cars of tomorrow. Three prototypes equipped with Kalray processors are already being tested worldwide. With the increase in R&D (in part with Leti and List), Kalray will be hiring for its Grenoble and Sophia-Antipolis sites.
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Leti’s M&NEMS one major step closer to the market
MEMS are expensive to develop: Each new component requires its own fabrication processes. Leti has been working to develop generic manufacturing processes (M&NEMS) since 2010. A new partnership with a major industrial company could have M&NEMS ready for batch fabrication within three years.
As the name suggests, M&NEMS combines microelectromechanical parts and a 250 nm-diameter nanogauge. This innovative approach makes it possible to co-integrate different sensors on the same chip. It also provides a variety of differentiating features depending on the application: low noise and vibration resistance for gyrometers; linearity and ultra-miniaturization for pressure sensors; and a wide measurement range for magnetometers. The technology is protected by some 25 patents.
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Cybersecurity: Leti automates testing
In research conducted under the Catrène-Innovation-Award-winning Mobitrust project, which wrapped up in 2017, Leti automated connected device (smartphone, tablet, etc.) security testing. The automated process enables faster, broader testing and all tests can be carried out in identical conditions. For the Mobitrust project, the automated testing was used on the TEE* function, which determines the scope of a separate execution environment for the sensitive applications of a connected device. The tests verify that the TEE is compliant with specifications and was developed according to certain design rules. The automated tests can also be used on the secure boot function, which forbids the execution of unauthorized code. Around ten Leti researchers have been assigned to these projects, including under R&D contracts with industrial partners.
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Recent Phelma grad founds agroecology startup
Paola Ceccato, who graduated from Phelma in 2015, won an award from the Fondation Norbert Ségard for her startup, Oikos Sphère, founded in 2017, Paola’s goal is to develop a cooperative for the manufacturing and sale of biofertilizers.
Oikos Sphère is innovative in more than one way. In addition to a novel approach to agronomy, the company is also inventing a more socially-inclusive business model—its biofertilizers will be manufactured and sold locally by farmers seeking to create new revenue streams and diversify their businesses. Two test production centers have been created in Savoie and Côte-d’Or. A third will soon be up and running in Lyon. The company uses connected bioreactors that it prototyped to control the quality of the fertilizers produced at each center. Oikos Sphère recently changed its name to Rézomes.
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Startup MagIA tackles hepatitis B
MagIA, founded in August 2017 to bring research conducted at G2Elab and LMGP to the market, has just been ranked by Challengesmagazine as one of 100 startups to invest in in 2018. The company is developing a portable, ultra-fast immunological test kit. The kit can complete a test—one that would traditionally require drawing blood and about two hours in the lab—from a few drops of blood in just fifteen minutes.
The company, which currently has five employees, is now focusing on developing a test for hepatitis B, a disease that affects 250 million people worldwide, mainly in Africa, Southeast Asia, and China. MagIA is also working on a home test kit for chronic kidney disease with the support of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional government. The company plans to raise €1 million from investors in late 2018.
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Chips individually encrypted during fabrication
Leti and Mapper, an equipment manufacturer based in the Netherlands, recently announced a major innovation: an individual security code etched onto the metal interconnects of individual chips during fabrication. Mapper developed a multiple electron beam maskless lithography test machine, which Leti integrated into a standard 40 nm CMOS fabrication process. The machine can be adapted to other technologies, on 200 mm or 300 mm wafers.
Each individual chip’s code can be accessed, but not modified. This type of chip could bring benefits to cybersecurity, traceability, and counterfeit prevention. Mapper is in talks with several manufacturers interested in testing the encryption technology on their wafers.
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Aledia raises €30 million and welcomes Intel
Startup Aledia, which specializes in a 3D LED technology, has just completed its third round of fundraising, bringing in €30 million in fresh capital. In addition to the company’s past investors, which include Ikea, the high-profile Intel Capital has now also joined the ranks of the company’s investors. This new investor is evidence that Aledia’s technology, based on forests of high-yield gallium nitride nanowires, offers substantial potential. The technology targets consumer markets like smartphones, laptops, tablets, and virtual-reality devices.
The influx of funds will position Aledia to invest more in R&D and purchase strategic equipment. The company also plans to hire around 20 new junior and senior employees for its Grenoble site. The company will also maintain its joint R&D activities with Leti.
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The secret to great skin? Put down your mobile phone!
The artificial light from mobile phone displays has a damaging effect on the mitochondrial networks of dermal fibroblasts, according to a two-year study conducted by Gattefossé, a manufacturer of cosmetic excipients and other ingredients, and Grenoble-based biotech company Cytoo, headquartered at MINATEC. Cytoo used its micropatterning technology to explore the architecture of the skin cells. Video microscopy was used to observe the cells, which had been exposed to an illuminator developed by Gattefossé that reproduces the effects of a year of exposure to a screen in just one day. The study concluded that the skin cells were stressed and had lost their mobility and responsiveness, as if they were exhausted. Based on these results, Gattefossé developed a new active ingredient that protects skin from the light from screens.
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Exagan gets a warm welcome in China
It would be difficult to imagine a better way to enter the Chinese market: Grenoble-based startup Exagan, which specializes in power components for converters, was selected for the Impact China 2018 program run by Business France and Bpifrance. The program will send Exagan to China on three trips totaling five weeks, giving the company ample opportunities to determine which region of China would be best suited to its business and to make contact with potential customers.
China is a major producer of electric vehicles and consumer electronics, making it a key market for Exagan. The startup, which has 25 employees at sites in Grenoble and Toulouse, would have invested much more time and taken on much more risk going it alone in China. This program will position Exagan to set up shop in China and hire local employees.
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