Eurekite receives investment and industrialization support
A new flexible ceramic fiber material, invented by Eurekite, shows wide application potential, ranging from batteries and electronics to oil & gas filtration. Eurekite, an advanced materials spin-off from the University of Twente, the Netherlands, has successfully developed a lab-scale production process and conducted several projects with international customers. Now, the company is ready to scale production, invest in global business development and expand its patent portfolio. To that end, Eurekite has raised € 4.2 million in a follow-on investment round and selected technology developer and producer Demcon for industrialization of production.
Eurekite’s invention, Flexiramics®, is based on the University of Twente’s world-class capabilities in materials science and nanomaterials. It is a flexible pure ceramic fiber mat that is light and flexible like paper, while retaining the main physiochemical properties of traditional ceramics. The most important properties of ceramics are heat resistance, electrical insulation and resistance to corrosion. However, traditional ceramics are very inflexible, which limits their application possibilities. As a flexible ceramic, Flexiramics has a unique potential for application in numerous technical fields, including separation membranes in Li-ion batteries, flexible, heat-resistant boards for printed circuits, and filtration membranes for the oil & gas industry.
Production and business development scale-up
Starting in 2015, Eurekite focused on further developing their new ceramic material, realizing a lab-scale production process and initiating projects with international customers to tailor product performance to their specific needs. As a result, Eurekite can now produce small amounts of high-quality material and the next step will be the production of larger quantities required for qualification projects with customers.
Eurekite’s next step requires a market development (or pilot) production line, explains COO Bas Kerkwijk. “Our core competences are in materials science and chemistry, not in machine building, so we started looking for an engineering partner. We selected Demcon because of their industrialization track record and their experience with designing and constructing first-of-a-kind machines and pilot lines.”
The market development production line is scheduled for the end of 2022. Meanwhile, Eurekite will use intermediate equipment for producing material to feed business development. The production scale-up, aligned with the global business development needs and IP development, requires additional funding.
Regional investors syndicate
Between 2015 and 2020, Cottonwood Technology Fund – a Dutch-American venture capital fund – provided seed and follow-up investments amounting to € 2.75 million. The new follow-on investment round of € 4.2 million comprises a substantial loan from RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency), the equipment lease facility from the Twente-based High Tech Fund, and an equity investment provided by a group of regional investors, including Lumana Invest, Oost NL through Innovation Fund Twente and Demcon.
“We are excited to close this funding round, because it allows us to deliver our breakthrough Flexiramics technology to customers who can integrate it in their everyday devices and processes that bring many benefits to society,” comments Gerard Cadafalch Gazquez, CEO of Eurekite. “Our market perspective has drastically improved since we started six years ago. Going through a steep learning curve, we successfully completed all steps on our product development roadmap to bring our invention to the next level. Customers have been really impressed and we have learned that our knowledge position is even stronger that we anticipated. There is ample of space in the market for our innovative material.”
“As a person raised and educated in Twente and having worked here for most of my professional career, I’m proud that we have built a solid business case in this region, resulting in funding from a strong consortium of regional partners,” adds Bas Kerkwijk. “The Eurekite team will continue to work hard to set an example of a successful materials science company in a tech ecosystem that is in general dominated by IT and medtech companies. Once the scale-up has been completed, we will have world-class capabilities to produce high-quality products at high throughput.”
“We are delighted to have been able to act as a lead investor in this round together with a group of regional investors and Demcon,” says Wim Smit, managing director of Lumana Invest, which specifically invests in hightech/medtech companies with groundbreaking technology. “This round will enable Eurekite to expand its production capacity and conquer the world with new, groundbreaking equipment. As a spin-off from the University of Twente’s MESA+ institute, Eurekite has proven to be able to impart unique patented properties to ceramic material. Eurekite can rightly be called a new pearl from Twente.”
“Eurekite’s material has great potential and Demcon has the expertise in advanced manufacturing, thin-film technology and material handling required to bring their production to industrial scale,” declares Jemy Pauwels, investment director at Demcon. “They present a very convincing track record for Flexiramics as an absolute novelty that can grow into a new industrial base material with a wide range of applications. And we ain’t seen nothing yet – even some our own researchers and engineers are considering new applications in their projects. Moreover, driven by a very competent, intrinsically motivated management team, Eurekite has been able to engage prominent international companies in funded projects already in the start-up phase.”
As a technology partner operating from their Enschede location. Demcon is close to Eurekite’s new production facilities. “This will even further intensify our collaboration. In addition, it’s great to be part of an East-Netherlands-based investment syndicate that strives to turn this material innovation into a success.”