Technology transfer to industry: 2021 achievements
Smart window films boost indoor cellular service
Windows with insulating glass are good for your energy bills, but bad for cellular reception. This type of glazing can attenuate cellular signals by 30 dB to 45 dB. Fortunately, IMEP-LAHC spinoff Lichens has a solution! The company’s smart plastic window films can mitigate signal attenuation by around 15 dB—enough to restore network service.
The innovation, which has been patented for Europe, the United States, and China, leverages clever patterns printed with a conductive metal ink that resonates with the glazing’s conductive layer. The film simply peels off for cleaning and will be easy to replace with a future 5G-compatible version. The product’s commercial release is slated for 2022 but Lichens is looking for test sites now. Interested?
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Grapheal raises €1.9 million for its digital biosensors
Startup Grapheal, founded in 2019 by scientists at Institut Néel, recently raised €1.9 million in capital. The influx of funds will go to R&D and clinical trials of the company’s flagship smart dressing for chronic wound monitoring and fast Covid-19 saliva test.
Both products are built on the same sensing device engineered from an atomic layer of graphene on a flexible circuit connected to a RFID chip. The smart dressing monitors wound healing and detects infection without having to remove the dressing. The fast Covid-19 saliva test turns results around in just five minutes. Competing tests take 15 to 30 minutes. Tech-transfer service provider Linksium licensed three patents to Grapheal. This IP forms the company’s core technology. Improvements to the technology are ongoing, including through a partnership with CEA-Leti.
Aryballe to receive €1.1 million subsidy for new pilot line
Aryballe was selected to receive €1.1 million under the French government’s economic stimulus program. The company raised €7 million in 2020; the additional funds will allow Aryballe to complete its pilot production line in a 120 sq. m clean room in Grenoble. The pilot facility will produce low-cost, miniaturized, universal odor sensors starting in early 2022. And, once it ramps up to full capacity, some 2 million units per year will come off the line. The facility will ultimately employ around 40 people.
Aryballe’s technology effectively reproduces the human sense of smell by combining biochemistry, advanced optics, and machine learning. With potential applications in the flavoring and fragrance, automotive, public transportation, and home appliance markets, the startup’s prospects are excellent. Aryballe continues to work with CEA-Leti on R&D under a joint lab.
Startup Direct Analysis racking up the milestones
Direct Analysis, the 70th startup from CEA-Leti, has stayed under the radar since it was founded at the beginning of the year.
The company has won an i-Lab award, completed twelve demos of its food testing solution, and secured preliminary regulatory approvals. Direct Analysis could open its own plant near Grenoble as early as 2022.
Direct Analysis can deliver biological test results in just six hours instead of 24 without compromising on sensitivity—an advance that is sure to please the food industry, where faster results can ensure that bad batches are pulled before they reach consumers, avoiding costly product recalls. The rapid testing solution can also be used preventively on factory equipment.
A CEA-Leti innovation protected by eleven patents
The key to Direct Analysis’ innovative solution is a microfluidic chip that extracts DNA from the sample and completes a PCR test. Because it can handle samples a hundred times larger than standard microfluidic devices, less incubation time is required to be able to detect any pathogens present.
Direct Analysis currently has seven employees, including two from the CEA. The company brought an experienced founder on board to lead it to growth.
Up next: at least one fundraising round and, potentially, a factory near Grenoble, maybe as early as 2022.
Direct Analysis has completed demos at the manufacturing plants of twelve food companies, mainly multinationals. The demos are expected to lead to regular use of the solution.
Injectpower, for implantable monitoring devices that last
The problem with implantable medical monitoring devices for organs like the eye, brain, or heart, is that the power sources are often larger than the actual sensors. Startup Injectpower was founded in early 2020 to tackle this challenge. The company is building on a technology protected by 40 CEA-Liten and CEA-Leti patents to offer rechargeable millimeter-sized microbatteries. These tiny batteries make on-demand, intervention-free, in situ measurement possible.
Doctors can now get a read on intraocular pressure (glaucoma), intracranial pressure (stroke, hydrocephalus), and cardiac pressure (hypertension). Injectpower has stayed mostly under the radar since it was founded, but the startup recently announced a partnership with a US-based medtech firm specializing in pressure sensors.
The company, which currently employs five people, has a joint R&D lab with CEA-Leti for its future products.
Diabeloop shifts into high gear in France and around the globe
Diabeloop obtained French national health insurance approval for its DBLG1 closed-loop automated insulin therapy device (DBLG1) in September. Now the Grenoble start-up and long-time CEA-Leti partner is training hospital staff so that they can offer the DBLG1 to their diabetic patients. Hospitals in the Île-de-France and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions recently set their first patients up with the device,
which will be rolled out gradually throughout France in 2022. And Diabeloop is also expanding internationally.
The company signed a partnership agreement with leading Japanese medical equipment manufacturer Terumo in mid-November. The partners will integrate Terumo’s patch pump into Diabeloop’s system so that the Japanese company can sell it in Europe.