Eurekite, an advanced materials spin-off from the University of Twente in the Netherlands that refers to its non-brittle, nanofibre-based products as ‘flexiramics’, has attracted a EURO 1 million investment from Cottonwood – a US venture capital (VC) firm with a European hub in Twente’s largest city, Enschede. The university start-up plans to use the VC funding to deliver prototypes based on its 100% ceramic materials, which were first developed at the MESA+ Institute of Nanotechnology, and to scale-up its operation.
“We have created a material that merges the properties of paper and ceramics,” says Eurekite co-founder Bahruz Mammadov (COO/CFO) who formed the company less than a year ago together with Gerard Cadafalch (CEO). Andre ten Elshof, a senior faculty member at MESA+, joins them as chief scientific officer. The team has strong connections to research programmes at the University of Twente investigating the properties of electrospun ceramic nanofibers. Based on promising results in the lab, the team decided to explore commercial opportunities for these tough and flexible nanomaterials.
Like conventional ceramics, Eurekite’s products don’t burn, but as the name suggests ‘flexiramics’ are much less fragile than traditional formulations and don’t shatter when dropped. The team hopes that this rugged combination of properties will inspire designers, and potential applications include high-temperature oil & gas sensors, flexible substrates for mobile phone antennas, lithium-ion battery energy performance upgrades, high-power electronics for electric vehicles and solar energy – to name just a few uses for ‘flexiramics’!
Ecosystem built for translation
As TMR+ witnessed on a tour of the region back in 2013, the University of Twente offers a healthy ecosystem for translating materials research from the laboratory through to the market. In addition to MESA+, local facilities include a prototyping environment (NanoLab) and the nearby High Tech Factory where early-stage companies can ramp-up to higher production volumes.
Related articles from the journal Translational Materials Research (TMR)
– Sizing up your innovation ecosystem (Deborah Jackson 2014 Transl. Mater. Res. 1 020301)
– Rethinking universities as innovation factories (Ralph M Ford et al 2014 Transl. Mater. Res. 1 016002)
– A lab-to-market roadmap for early-stage entrepreneurship (Jesko von Windheim and Barry Myers 2014 Transl. Mater. Res. 1 016001)