Biomimetic – Nature’s Ingenuity on Surface Engineering

23 Mar 2021

It all started with a brilliant technological development. A team of Greek researchers from the “Ultrafast Laser Micro- and Nano- processing” laboratory worked for developing a surface with antireflective properties. Decreasing light reflection or glare is of huge importance for practically any optical system and photonic device. The current ways of producing anti-reflective (AR) transparent surfaces are expensive, require the use of chemicals and are thus very harmful to the environment. In this context, the need of sustainable and cost efficient AR surface treatments is one of the most challenging industry bets. Laser texturing of materials’ surfaces has been proven to be a unique and irreplaceable tool for numerous production processes and offers a potentially simple, highly-controllable, low-cost and environmentally friendly alternative.

Biomimetic, inspired from the Greek words “bios” and “mimesis” is here to exploit nature’s wisdom, and implement it directly to texture glass surfaces with the use of coherent laser light. Biomimetic’ s surface treatments are designed to rapidly induce controllable modification of glass surfaces that mimic the nano-pillars comprising the wings of several Cicada and Butterfly species. The successful mimesis of the nature’s archetypes on artificial glass surfaces result in high-throughput and cost efficient AR surfaces with potential use in consumer electronics, solar panels, specialised optical components and photonic devices.

The company implementing a technology invented within the FET /Pathfinder open project LiNabioFluid that was further developed thanks to the Innovation Launchpad funding given to the LaBionicS project. The followed approach provides controlled formation of functional (micro-/nano- structured) surface textures that mimic structures found on different animals and insects (biomimetic surfaces) to transform materials such as glass and metals to fully anti-reflective, anti-fogging ,water repellent and many other properties. The innovation has a broad application area in high importance, high profit segments such as eyewear, display market (phones, tablets, laptops), cameras, optical sensors, instruments, solar panels etc.

The role of PRAXI Network

The researchers asked the support of PRAXI Network staff who provided a series of Network services towards the commercialization and industrialization of the innovation. PRAXI provided the following Network services:

  • Market analysis and valuation of the innovation. The analysis provided the potential users, competition, market potential, application areas etc
  • Advisory for the PCT patent application. Patent search, presentation of the IP landscape, advisory on IP strategy provided and IP valuation.
  • Support for contacting funds. This included business plan review and advisory for communication issues. The company managed to raise 900.000 euros
  • Support for finding a coach. The research team was awarded with FET Open and Launchpad programmes for which they were eligible for a coaching service. PRAXI Network identified a suitable coach. This was instrumental in defining their business plan and make their first connections to the industry.
  • Publication of a Technology Offer in the POD. The offer had almost 20 expressions of interest and a technological agreement resulted with a large group of watchmakers from Switzerland. This collaboration gave the opportunity to test the commercial application of the technology to a market segment with promising prospects.

The high interest from companies (many of them large), as well as the market analysis and the success of course with the investment of the fund, led the research team to establish a company for the full exploitation of the technology. PRAXI Network helped the researchers to define their strategy for it and provided information about the process and the available options. PRAXI Network provided the necessary support and advisory services that lead to the establishment of Biomimetic spin off company in the first semester of 2020.

The impact of the series of advisory & partnering services is that the Greek company is now ready to commercialize and industrialize a really innovative technology.

The people behind Biomimetic: Dr. Emmanouil Stratakis, Dr. Evangelos Skoulas, Andreas Lemonis, Antonis Papadopoulos and Alexandros Mimidis.

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