Using the shape memory effect, the KIT-Spin-off memetis enables high operating forces with better integrability and higher flexibility for miniature actuators.
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.
The spin-off Renumics GmbH uses machine learning methods to make Computer Aided Engineering more efficient and take the strain off computational engineers.
Crash tests are an expensive affair. In early development stages, collision experiments are therefore often replaced by computer simulations that can be performed thousands of times taking various influential factors into account. These simulations are usually based on computer-supported processes, on so-called Computer Aided Engineering (CAE). This concept centres on computational engineers who compile numerical models, thus assisting constructors in the analysis and optimisation of their designs. The crucial time and cost factors here are the many manual work steps involved. For example, computational engineers invest a considerable amount of time in routine activities such as pre-processing geometries and integrating data instead of being able to concentrate on modelling and analytical work, which is precisely where Renumics comes in. This KIT spin-off has developed a software with which CAE can be automated. In this context, machine learning methods help make simulations workflows considerably more efficient.
The advent season rings in the end of a year – a good time to “decelerate” everyday life and to indulge in a review of the past year. We look back at the lovely, collective, and educational events of 2015.
KITcrowd – Crowdfunding for startups
As part of the Founders Forge, the KIT already offers students and scientific employees a wide array of offerings for startup promotion, for instance with consulting, coaching, and seminars. In March, we launched the KIT crowdfunding platform KITcrowd in order to offer KIT founders an additional financing opportunity. Since the launch of the platform, six startup projects and startups have presented themselves. Three of these were successful and able to advance their ideas. More about KITcrowd
A motive for KIT startup teams at upCAT
Twice a year, prospective founders have the opportunity to intensely work on their startup at the KIT accelerator upCAT. An initial idea develops into a concrete business model in three months – supported by entrepreneurial know-how, coaches, and mentors. The Demo Day in March was a complete success. All teams were able to excite the audience of investors and network partners and received valuable feedback on their business cases. On December 7th, 2014, the next round of upCAT will begin! More about the program
For some years now, increasingly more startups in the life sciences sector emerge at the KIT, such as Amcure, Incella, Acquifer, Corvolution, or recently 300Microns. In this area there are highly exciting projects that, through their immediate international focus, have larger growth opportunities than a classic startup but are much more complex and thus also more labor intensive in the design phase.
While a technical or IT-based startup is mainly oriented on the market, a successful life sciences startup must also always act in the scientific field. Only those which are present at conferences and verifiably document results that were generated with the startup technology in scientific publications are perceived in the academic market, which is often the entry market.
The scientific founders therefore often remain in the academic field rather than transferring into the management of the startup company completely, which is otherwise usual. As co-founders, they assist in the advisory panel, the so-called Advisory Board, with product development, shape the corporate strategy, and support the acquisition of customers through their academic network.
The financing of life science startups is also a particular challenge. When laboratory tests for product development or manufacturing are required, the young company is going to incur high costs. Here, the KIT can help by providing for the initial phase of the founding with fully equipped laboratory and office spaces in the KIT’s own high-tech incubator for moderate rental fees.
Last but not least, life science founders need a lot of stamina. Economic success arises much later for them due to the long phases of product development and approval, particularly in the clinical field. In comparison, non-technology-based startups can offer a different product or service on the market after a short startup phase.
Are you currently working on a technology from which a business idea can be developed? Are you toying with the idea of founding a company? Do you need advice on founding? Then use the offers of the KIT Founders Forge and make an appointment with the consultant team of the KIT Innovation Management – we support you in your startup projects.