The material is the machine

Using the shape memory effect, the KIT-Spin-off memetis enables high operating forces with better integrability and higher flexibility for miniature actuators.

memetis_700pxBREIT

The memetis start-up team (left to right): Dr Marcel Gültig, Dr Hinnerk Oßmer, Dr Christof Megnin and Christoph Wessendorf.

memetis enable large forces to develop and motions to proceed within a minimum of space. They have achieved this thanks to the development of foil-based miniature actuators made of shape memory alloys (SMAs). Shape memory alloys are metal alloys that can easily be deformed when they are in a cold state and return to their memory shape by themselves when they are heated up, in the course of which distances are covered and forces develop. Based on this, a multitude of components and systems in various industries can be further strongly miniaturised, which opens up entirely new options for application. From automotive and consumer electronics through aerospace technologies to medical engineering and analytics – the memetis SMA miniature actuators can be used just about everywhere, and with tailor-made benefits.

The company founders came up with this brilliant idea in the course of doctoral studies at the Institute of Microtechnolgy, which belongs to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). During this period, they had already gathered considerable experience with SMA miniature actuators, which boosted their determination to advance this technology in actuator design to market maturity and make it accessible for to a wide range of users. It is the declared goal of memetis to exploit the full potential of SMA actuator technology and make it marketable.

memetis GmbH was officially founded in February 2017. The four young entrepreneurs will be supported by the programme EXIST Research Transfer Phase I up to September 2018. The further advancement of the technology and its adaptation to client requirements has been entrusted to Dr Marcel Gültig, Dr Hinnerk Oßmer and Dr Christof Megnin. Christoph Wessendorf joined the start-up team in spring 2015 to see to the commercial aspects of going into business.

The next important step in the development process of the fledgling enterprise is series production, with which memetis will be able to efficiently scale their business and grow correspondingly. “The challenge is to manually assemble a single component and then scale up manufacturing to 100, 1,000 and 10,000 pieces,” Wessendorf explains. “Thus already when we are developing the components, we have to orient them on producibility, clearly define processes and introduce and test technical implementation, which is followed by continuous quality management and certification. When we have finished all this, we can achieve our planned turnover and fully launch a growth phase as well as maintaining a far more active presence in the market.”

They were thankful for support provided by the KIT incubator right from the start, both in terms of funding and financing advice and pitch training. “We were able to draw on an excellent network of mentors whom we got to know in the Accelerator Programmes,” Wessendorf comments. For example, memetis took part in upCAT, a KIT funding programme that supports start-ups in their early stages. Their mentor was Tobias Grab, who is currently in the process of establishing his second start-up, in addition to the KIT spin-off Cynora.

With their move from Campus Nord to Karlsruhe’s western district in March 2018, memetis have taken a further step towards the business world – even though they will always maintain a link with KIT, also because of KIT having completed its participation in starting up memetis as a spin-off.

Fluid-System

The fluid system with four normally closed miniature valves for use in analytics.

 

 

 

Gestures conquering industrial processes

The KIT spin-off Kinemic GmbH is developing a software for keying and device interaction based on steering gestures for industrial applications.

Dr Christoph Amma set off to become an entrepreneur with his doctoral thesis at the Chair of Cognitive Systems in Informatics at KIT: “While I was doing my doctorate, I explored options for recognising and interpreting human movements, especially gesture and handprint character recognition. Ultimately, this was to result in ‘airwriting’, a system enabling letters to be written and recognised in the air without a keying or input device. Texts are thus captured solely by movements of the hand.

Inventor Amma caused a sensation with this invention. His academic work earned him a number of distinctions, including the “Google Faculty Research Award” in 2013. Technical implementation was supported by Marcus Georgi, a fellow informatics scientist at KIT. The positive acclaim the two scientists have met with and the growing interest taken in airwriting have encouraged them to go on pursuing the development of the research results towards concrete applications. Thus the decision to go into business suggested itself. “Progressing from scientific proof to application at client level really is exciting,” Amma remarks. “You have to do a lot of developing to get your own vision put into practice.” Tomt Lenz, a fellow KIT graduate who joined the team, adds: “Thanks to my previous activities as a business consultant, I was able to provide valuable experience in company development.”

KINEMIC

Das Team von Kinemic möchte die Bedienung von digitalen Geräten im industriellen Einsatz revolutionieren: Dr. Christoph Amma, Marcus Georgi, Tomt Lenz.

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Concretely realizing Industry 4.0 – That’s where it’s at!

An event of the venture forum neckar e.V. in cooperation with the Sparkasse Heilbronn on September 30, 2015 was to provide answers to the question of which challenges businesses will be faced with in the future and how they can be tackled. The continuously advancing digitalization of production processes and the increased networking of different production locations via the Internet, two big themes under the umbrella term Industry 4.0, often require rethinking, especially for medium-sized companies.

For startups, it is also important to deal with the topic of Industry 4.0 from the beginning. Many processes must be coordinated from the start in collaboration with customers and cooperation partners. The event offered a platform for recognizing the needs of startups, cooperation partners in industry, and investors/financiers early on in order to address them.

A total of four startup teams/startups from the KIT were exhibitors at the event. Three of them presented themselves in a pitch (12 in total) to the investors/financiers and potential cooperation partners with great success. All in all, the event was well attended by approx. 200 participants and approx. 20 startup teams.

Andreas Rüdenauer (Rüdenauer 3D Technology GmbH) und Dr. Rolf Blattner (KIT-Innovationsmanagement) am Stand der Rüdenauer 3D Technology GmbH

Andreas Rüdenauer (Rüdenauer 3D Technology GmbH) and Dr. Rolf Blattner (KIT Innovation Department) at the Rüdenauer 3D Technology GmbH stand

Dr. Rolf Blattner (KIT-Innovationsmanagement) und Frederick Lessmann (otego) am Stand von otego

Dr. Rolf Blattner (KIT Innovation Department) and Frederick Lessmann (otego) at the otego stand

Marcus Georgi und Tomt Lenz (GIN/Kinemic) im Gespräch mit Interessenten am Stand von GIN/Kinemic

Marcus Georgi and Tomt Lenz (GIN/Kinemic) talking to interested people at the GIN/Kinemic stand

Three KIT startup projects receive EXIST Transfer of Research

Twice a year, technology-oriented startup projects from universities and research institutions may apply for funding through EXIST Transfer of Research. With this funding program, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) supports outstanding teams of founders whose technology-based startup ideas require elaborate development work. The goal is to improve the startup climate at universities and research institutions as well as to increase the number of technological and scientific business startups.

In May 2015, the jury met and decided on the submissions from the January 2015 application phase. Altogether, 87 sketched ideas from around Germany were examined. Twenty-six startup teams from the areas of life sciences, energy technology, sensor technology, software, and industry 4.0 won the jury over and received approval for funding. Among them are three teams from the KIT: GIn, OTEGO, and Emmtrix. Congratulations!

The team of GIn – Gesture Interaction for Wearable Technologies has specialized in the area of augmented reality (AR). Using newly developed technology for gesture interaction, the aim is to considerably expand and improve the input options and the range of functions of AR glasses and ‘wearable devices’. The OTEGO team is working on a spin-off in the energy sector. With thermoelectric generators (TEGs), they hope to transform ambient heat directly into power when a temperature change occurs. The technology can be applied in a wide array of markets. The third startup project, Emmtrix, develops a software solution for programming multicore processors for simplifying the parallelization of embedded systems in the industry field.

These entirely different ideas were rated by the BMWi as technologically demanding and economically promising startup projects. With the help of EXIST Transfer of Research, the teams can now focus on continuing to develop, proving the technical feasibility, and preparing the startup. We wish the three teams a lot of success and will follow their development!

Pocket-size Health Screening

 

corvolution GmbH, a KIT spinoff, offers a sensor system for 48-h health checkups. Its use in industrial health management contributes to improved health of personnel.

Die drei Gründer von corvolution (v.l.n.r.): Dr. Stefan Lamparth, Dr. Malte Kirst und Dr. Silvester Fuhrhop.

The three founders of corvolution (from the left): Dr. Stefan Lamparth, Dr. Malte Kirst und Dr. Silvester Fuhrhop.

Health is widely known to be man‘s greatest asset. This applies not only to private health but also to health in the working environment. Healthy and capable staff members are the most important resource of a successful company. In times of rising workloads, prevention and health maintenance are therefore topics of increasing importance. This upward trend was recognized by Dr. Silvester Fuhrhop, Dr. Malte Kirst, and Dr. Stefan Lamparth some time ago; while working on their doctoral theses at the KIT Institute for Information Processing Technology (ITIV), the authors intensively worked on non-invasive diagnostic tools in cardiology and movement monitoring. Continue reading