I attended today the USPTO partnership meeting on “additive manufacturing” (aka 3D Printing). The content was excellent, covering both talks and demonstrations. Companies presenting included 3D Systems, Stratasys, Shapeways, MakerBot, Ex One, and EOS. Several hundred persons attended, including in person and via the web, and the room energy was excellent throughout the three hours plus of content. The 3D printing revolution appears to be on after some 25 years of gestation.
MakerBot is featured in this article. Ex One is featured here.
The USPTO should be congratulated for putting together this informative, exciting event. The USPTO did not give too much overview of how patenting impacts this, but patenting was frequently noted by the speakers, and the PTO did note that there have been around 6,800 patent applications filed in this area over the past ten years. I was particularly struck by the concept that 3D printing can in some cases make objects which cannot be made by other ways. I would also like to hear more about nanoscale aspects of this including materials, interfaces, and nanoscale resolution. One of the driving forces for nanotechnology and nanomanufacturing is additive manufacturing. This recently published U.S. patent application from Lockheed Martin (2013/0018243) shows use of carbon nanotubes and uses the phrase “bio-additive manufacturing.” We will continue to monitor patent filings in this important area as 2013 progresses.
In 3D printing, an object is built up layer-by-layer under computer controlled manufacturing. The talks today covered the historical development including the original stereolithography, laser sintering, binder-on-powder printing, and inkjet 3D printing. Today, some of the companies are trying to “democratize” the technology and introduce this wonder to the general public. With 3D printing, everyone can become a creator. Recently media reports on 3D printing have been abundant. Hopefully, venture capital will be interested. Stay tuned!
The Wall Street Journal this week featured nanopore sequencing in its year end review of important health trends (both hard copy and electronic copies). The speed and low cost were stressed, as sequencing machines become desktop in size. We have noted before how the miracle of high speed sequencing is reaching the main stream press (see September 19 and July 31, 2012 posts). This nanotechnology is one of the cornerstones for personalized medicine.
Momentum for “additive manufacturing” (aka “3D printing”) continues to grow. The USPTO recently announced a customer partnership meeting to be held on January 23, 2013.
In addition, in August 2012, the Obama administration announced a new National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) initiative, including $30M federal funding. This week’s Economist also features an example, a new “carbomorph” material which can be used to print flexible electronics. One 3D printing ink is based on silver and carbon nanotubes. Carbomorph, however, is based on carbon black and polyester. Apparently, this enables far easier printing of electronic circuits.
Many links exist between additive manufacturing and nanotechnology. Key aspects of additive manufacturing are the materials used, and nanomaterials are an important ingredient. Also, forming high resolution solid structures cuts to the essence of nanotechnology.
General Electric’s CEO Jeff Immelt recently spoke on his company’s efforts with additive manufacturing, indicating manufacturing will become “sexy” again. Hopefully, additive manufacturing will also become an area for venture capital and angel investing. The USPTO event apparently will feature the companies Stratasys and MakerBot, and MakerBot just started in 2009.
Miracles of nature and science are all around us, and one of them is the abilty of an organism to heal itself. If skin is cut, the skin can repair itself. Can that concept also be applied to synthetic materials and coatings? One company trying to commercialize the concept is Autonomic Materials, Inc. (AMI). In the AMI approach, microcapsules are used. AMI recently announced it completed a series B financing, with Phoenix Venture Partners investing. In these tougher economic times, including tough times for venture capital, AMI’s receipt of investment is good news. More about Phoenix Venture Partners can be found in attached link.
MSNBC web page today has posted an excellent brief piece on ten ways nanotech is being used now and people may not even know it. We recommend looking. Number one was band-aids; others are cool; but they finish with an eye-opener…. not necessarily appropriate for a law firm blog arguably ? Please read and enjoy.
Foley’s annual Cleantech Energy Patent Landscape Report provides an analysis of the top clean energy technologies patented in the United States to aid industry executives, start-ups, individual inventors, and investors in identifying trends and market opportunities in this continually changing landscape.
View the executive summary:
2011 Cleantech Energy Patent Landscape Report Executive Summary
The Report highlights key findings from a review of more than 1,100 granted U.S. patents specific to clean energy production, efficiency, and conservation technologies within eleven focal categories: solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, nuclear, hybrid vehicles, fuel cells for vehicles, utility metering, smart grid technologies, and CO2 storage or sequestration. To help participants in this space discern realistic opportunities for sustaining competitive edge and revenue generation, the analysis offers insight on:
- Regional cleantech activity
- Year-to-year trend perspective
- Specific technologies for which patent protection is being granted and who is obtaining those patents
- Focal points for venture capital investments
- Areas of patentable white space
- Potential licensing availability for corporate entities
For more information or a copy of the full annual report, please contact your local Foley attorney or contact me directly at email@example.com.
The International Herald Tribune today (June 14, 2011) presented an important article called "U.S. Venture Capital Flowing Toward Europe." This caught my eye, in particular, as I am writing from Brussels this week. In areas like cleantech and nanotech, many seem to "worry" that Europe as a region has taken the lead from the United States.
The gist of this important article can be found in its conclusion that "U.S. venture capitalists, later-stage technology investors and software companies are paying more attention to targets in London, Paris, and Munich, upping their exposure to a region some had all but written off."
The goal in looking to Europe is to find "hidden" investment gems. Also, we note that central to U.S. innovation is Silicon Valley, a regional sector for which Europe has no counterpart. A question often arises: how can one reproduce Silicon Valley innovation in other regions? In the U.S., part of the answer usually refers to the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs’ willingness to fail in the longer term goal to innovate. So I read with irony in this important article where, with respect to Europe, a founder of Skype said, "The biggest obstacle we have is cultural. People are afraid of failure."
Perhaps failure is something that should be feared in certain contexts? But we should appreciate those that take the risks, whatever the outcomes. Whether for the US or Europe, or any other region like East Asia, the various degrees of risks can be balanced so both cutting edge innovation (revolutionary innovation) and more mundane improvement innovation (evolutionary innovation) can be achieved. We certainly appreciate how Europe has pushed cleantech commercialization, including allowing US companies to find markets and partners.
The long awaited Fluidigm Corp. IPO is pricing at $13.50 according to a news report dated February 10, 2011. Fluidigm commercializes microfluidics, which is an important element of nanotechnology and life sciences.
A recent S-1A statement from Fluidigm is also provided (Form S-1/A filed February 7, 2011).
As of today, in another recent high tech IPO, the Neophotonics stock is trading significantly up at $18.57 (see our prior post on Neophotonics).
These are exciting, interesting times for those who follow commercialization of advanced technology, as the IPO market attempts to revitalize in 2011, while at the same time, the proper mix of private and public investment in high technology is ascertained with a new Republican Congress. What and who will make the money? If there is now a commercial success, is there government investment in the history contributing to the success?
Neophotonics Corp. has begun its public trading in early February, marking a significant event in the 2011 IPO market. Cleantech and nanotech watchers should be carefully watching this long awaited development. Neophotonics was formerly knows as Nanogram until 2002 and features much "submicron," a/k/a nanotechnology, in its patent portfolio. One investor is lead nanotech venture capital investor, Harris & Harris Group.
In reading the Neophotonics IPO prospectus, numerous important observations can be made regarding issues such as past business reorganizations, patent litigation, and manufacturing employment in China.
The federal and state governments should also be carefully watching this important IPO to see what works and does not work for technology commercialization, how policies are influencing the IPO process, and how to provide for a more favorable future. We are seeing early favorable press reports about this IPO.
This week’s feature: a VC arm of big pharma, Lilly Ventures, led a new round of $24 M in financing for nanopharmaceutical company Cerulean Pharma (Cambridge, MA-based), per media reports. The round was termed a C-round, and the total raised to date is reported to be $56 M.
One of the central ideas for this technology is to limit harmful side effects through nanoscale approaches to drug delivery and efficacy. For example, if a prior drug was not put into the market because of side effects, those side effects could be reduced or eliminated by nanoscale engineering. Hence, the nano approach can help recoup past investments in developing drugs which seemingly “failed” due to side effects.
Continue reading this entry
Foley’s Rewards and Risks of “Green” Web Conference series will explore ways for executives in green technology industries to identify and leverage market opportunities while navigating legal and regulatory uncertainties.
In our first installment on May 11, 2010, “Where Innovation Is Meeting Investment,” we will reveal U.S. innovation trends based on issued green technology patents and garner insights from a leading global investor in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, Good Energies. The discussion will include:
- Innovation landscape — white space versus over-saturation
- How investors assess investment opportunities
- Which green technology sectors appear likely to attract investment in the near to mid-term
- Financing and IP strategies for green technology companies at different life cycle stages
Continue reading this entry
Nano biotechnology innovations offer some of the more promising opportunities for the development of medical imaging and diagnostic tools. According to U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2009/0324706, assigned on its face to Northwestern University, gold-nanoparticles can be used to direct the synthesis of structures on which lippid bilayers may be supported. Because the lippid structures sequester cholesterol, the structures can be imaged in localized regions within a blood vessel where plaque may be present.
AuraSense LLC, a Northwestern University start-up founded by Chad Mirkin (listed as an inventor in the 2009/0324706 publication), has recently received a $2.5 million investment to commercialize its cholesterol sequestering technology that can be used to image cholesterol hot-spots. Such an investment in a university start-up may be seen as evidence that investment rounds are proceeding after a dismal 2009. Indeed, more investments like these will help keep American innovation primed with job growth and exciting new nanotech- and nano biotechnology-based products.