Spin-offs Tech Transfer

Our Tech Transfer programme enables us to translate applied research into practical applications in the outside world. The spin-offs from Tech Transfer contribute to new business activity and employment in the Netherlands.

Check out the spin-offs. Would you like to contribute to the technologies? Please contact us.

AMSYSTEMS: faster and cheaper 3D printing

Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, is a wonderful technique, but still very slow. We’ve developed a unique method to increase the speed of the printing process. This makes 3D printing faster and cheaper, without compromising on quality.

This involves a light engine that can be installed in existing professional 3D printers. It offers 3D printer manufacturers an opportunity to make their devices faster. And it’s a solution for companies that make moulds or templates for the manufacturing industry. Examples are manufacturers of prototypes for hearing aids and dentures, or producers of moulds for automobile and aerospace parts.

Want to know more? Visit the AMSYSTEMS website or contact us at roeland.brugman@virulus.nl.

Asset Hub: detecting cracks in brickwork and masonry

Brick and masonry structures may develop cracks. In the worst-case scenario, they may collapse. Manual inspections are time-consuming, expensive, and not always equally good. We’ve developed a method to find cracks in brickwork and masonry automatically. It makes inspections straightforward, low-cost, and reliable.

We’ve created algorithms to detect cracks based on photos. This enables timely intervention and you can avert dangerous situations. The model combines the photos into one façade or quay wall and scans it for cracks. If cracks are detected, the position, width, and length are determined automatically. With multiple images over time, it’s also possible to record how cracks develop. This is not only important for safety, but also prevents discussions after the fact regarding the damage that has occurred.

Want to know more? Visit the Asset Hub website or contact us at hello@assethub.nl.

Blue Heart Energy: new type of heat pump

Heat pumps are the most efficient solution for both sustainable heating and cooling. Existing systems are complex to install and expensive for the user. Blue Heart Energy is working with us on a new type of heat pump that overcomes all the shortcomings of current models.

Many compression heat pumps and air conditioning systems use refrigerants containing HFC. These have a 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than CO2. Blue Heart has tapped into our in-depth knowledge of thermoacoustics to develop a heat pump that uses helium instead of a traditional HFC refrigerant. This is harmless for the environment. In addition, Blue Heart is completely silent and affordable. Blue Heart contains fewer components than today’s more complex systems. This reduces energy bills, the purchase price and maintenance costs.

Want to know more? Visit the Blue Heart Energy website and watch this video about the Blue Heart heat pump.

Carbyon: from lower to negative CO2 emissions

Industry, energy, traffic, agriculture, and the built environment: CO2 emissions have to be reduced in all sectors to meet the climate targets. Besides reducing emissions, it’s also possible to extract CO2 from the air and store it underground using special techniques. This is important for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. In addition, CO2 molecules can be used as building blocks for any type of fuel or chemical substance.

The battery uses the most common basic raw materials on earth: salt and water. Potassium carbonate is a salt hydrate that reacts with water. Adding water vapour to the salt triggers a chemical reaction that changes the properties of crystals, releasing heat. The process also works the other way round, by evaporating water from the salt crystal and storing the heat in the salt. The problem was that the crystals began to ‘wear out’ as a result of the repeated storage and release of heat. Now there’s a stable salt particle that’s capable of repeatedly storing and releasing heat without loss.

Want to know more? Visit the Cellcius website or contact us at info@cellcius.com.

CollaneX therapeutics: drug against fibrosis

Researchers all over the world are working on ways to combat fibrosis. Fibrosis can occur in various organs, such as your heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. The number of patients with liver fibrosis in particular is rising sharply. As a result, the number of liver transplants is increasing rapidly. We’ve built up unique knowledge in this area over the past decade. Through the CollaneX spin-off, we want to develop an effective drug together with market players.

The scientists at CollaneX are knowledgeable about both the disease and the pharmaceutical market. They’ve developed models that provide insight into the mechanisms of the disease. In addition, they’ve identified a unique target. This helps in developing a drug with potentially few side effects. Through its unique combination of knowledge of mechanisms, models, and the market, CollaneX is convinced it can provide a breakthrough in the fight against fibrosis.

Want to know more? Please contact Roeland Hanemaaijer.

Delta Diagnostics: biosensor that saves lives

A simple device that will save lives worldwide: the biosensor. This small device analyses a drop of blood to determine whether, for example, someone has been exposed to nerve gas, has an infectious disease, or has had a heart attack. We used our knowledge of biomarkers to develop this device. These are proteins that, at certain concentrations in the blood, indicate specific diseases or disorders. Under the name Delta Diagnostics, we’re taking the device from the lab to production.

The prototype of the device is still too large and too expensive to make on a large scale. It needs to be a small, lightweight box in which you place a disposable sensor cartridge with a drop of blood. Optical sensors record the protein concentrations in the blood within minutes to make a diagnosis. In acute situations, a doctor or paramedic can determine immediately whether a person is having a heart attack or stroke, and take rapid action. The sensor is also of great benefit in remote areas where there’s no clinical lab or even electricity.

Want to know more? View the Delta Diagnostics website.

Keiron: innovative printing technology for electronics and microlabs

Laser-based technology is an innovative printing technology. It’s a contactless, digital, and laser-controlled technique for depositing both solid and liquid materials on any desired surface. You can use this technology to add microelectronics to chips. For example, you can carry out laboratory tests, such as blood analyses, at a person’s home. In addition, you can print sensitive biological materials such as cells. Laser-based technology builds 3D cells layer by layer and prevents damage. This makes the technique very suitable for microfluidics applications.

Laser-based technology is widely applicable for printing electronic circuits. Both the conductive materials and the insulation can be printed simultaneously during production without making contact. Contactless printing is one of the great advantages of this technology. The laser deposits any desired pattern on the surface extremely rapidly and in one go. A manufacturer no longer depends on mechanical movements, as with dispensing or inkjet technology, which additionally only works with liquid materials. It’s also possible to apply solid materials such as metals. As a whole, the technology provides opportunities for mass production of flexible electronics.

Want to know more? Visit the Keiron website or watch the video on how LIFT elevates the material deposition process.

LeydenJar: batteries that perform 50% better

The aim was to develop new thin-film solar cell technology. But the method proved more suitable for application in batteries. This is how a ‘failed’ project quickly became a promising start-up: LeydenJar. It develops batteries that perform 50% better.

The batteries are ideal for smartphones and other consumer electronics, electric cars, and, in time, even storage systems for sustainable energy. A unique feature of the technology is the use of pure silicon instead of the traditional graphite for the anode – a component of the battery.

LeydenJar works closely with us and with the knowledge institute ZSW in Baden-Württemberg, the University of Münster, and Delft University of Technology. Want to know more? Visit the LeydenJar website.

Linksight: insight without sharing data

Linksight enables analysts to carry out data analyses on privacy-sensitive datasets, without the underlying data being shared or viewed. The data always remains exclusively at the source. It’s highly relevant for companies that want to make decisions based on data, but also want to enforce privacy rules and prevent risks of data breaches.

Linksight uses Multi-Party Computation (MPC) to compute encrypted data and blockchain technology for decentralised governance. In doing so, Linksight builds on our encryption technology, which we’ve developed together with market players. Working with the Linksight platform solves many data-sharing problems, such as:

  • medical research without sharing patient data
  • fraud investigation where nothing is learned that isn’t necessary
  • benchmarking between companies without revealing competition-sensitive data.

Want to know more? Visit the Linksight website or contact us at info@linksight.nl.

LionVolt: revolutionary type of battery

At the Holst Centre, our experts are working with partners on a revolutionary type of battery based on 3D technology and solid-state. Solid-state has the advantage that the battery cannot catch fire or explode. In addition, the batteries are lightweight, charge very quickly, and have a long service life – ideal for electric cars. They can then travel three times further, while charging five times faster.

Holst Centre specialises in flexible electronics, including thin-film technology. Our showpiece is the technique called spatial Atomic Layer Deposition (sALD), which we’ve developed with industrial partners. It’s a fast method of applying extremely thin layers of a few nanometres to a surface. The solid-state batteries are made up of several billion pillars that are covered with layers of functional material. This creates a 3D structure with a large surface area. The ions now only have to travel a short distance, making charging and discharging much faster.

Want to know more? Visit the LionVolt website.

Nearfield Instruments: global leader in metrology

The production of the new generation of super-fast computers will require completely new technologies and processes. Continuous measurement during the production process will be essential to prevent errors. The spin-off Nearfield Instruments makes revolutionary systems for this purpose.

The metrology systems of Nearfield Instruments measure wafers in 3D at high resolutions and high speeds. This enables chip manufacturers to check their production processes at the highest level. This is crucial for making chips for the new generation of smartphones, tablets, and laptops. In the first instance, this involves developing metrology systems for the semiconductor industry. This technology, high-throughput scanning probe microscopy (HT-SPM), enables the industry to continue producing ever more powerful and energy-efficient electronics at lower costs. Nearfield Instruments is the global leader in this field.

This video shows how HT-SPM technology checks the quality of chips. Want to know more? Visit the Nearfield Instruments website.

Orange Quantum Systems: customised quantum computers

All over the world, researchers are working on developing quantum computing. Orange Quantum Systems focuses on customised quantum computers built for a client’s specific application. This could be a pharmaceutical company, a financial party, or the Ministry of Defence. Or any other party that wants to perform complex calculations at super-fast speeds, but cannot or will not use quantum computer cloud services, due to IP or legislation and regulations.

In parallel with the development of quantum computers, Orange Quantum Systems provides advisory services. The company is familiar with the latest technology and knows how to develop and assemble quantum systems. It helps both academics and companies to make efficient purchases of quantum systems for their own research and to develop quantum technology further.

The quantum computer does not calculate in the same way as the traditional PC, with single bits that have a value of 0 or 1, but instead with quantum bits. As a result, it can calculate with unprecedented speed. The quantum computer no longer tests different options separately but all at once. This will enable major breakthroughs much faster than at present, in order to solve major societal problems. Developing drugs, for example, which currently takes many years, could be done much faster.

Want to know more? Visit the Orange Quantum Systems website.

Pharmaprint: digital drug production by pharmacies

In healthcare, the centralised preparation of drugs is too expensive and there are often shortages. By combining our knowledge of 3D printing, food, and pharmaceuticals, we’ve devised a new technology that solves these problems: drug printing. Pharmacists can then digitally produce drugs in their practices, tailored to the individual patient.

The technology builds on 3D food printing. The advantages are that the drug is readily soluble, different active ingredients can be combined in one pill, and the dosage can easily be varied. Discussions with pharmacists, hospitals, wholesalers, and patient organisations, among others, show that there is a great need for this solution. In addition, it offers opportunities to create new business models in which the total healthcare costs can be reduced without the health insurer or the pharmacy having to make any sacrifices. Digitally created drugs therefore contribute to patients’ quality of life and at the same time reduce healthcare costs.

Relement: extracting aromatics from biomass

The products we use every day, from plastics to textiles, consist almost entirely of aromatics. These chemical raw materials are extracted from petroleum, which causes substantial CO2 emissions. Together with partners, we’re working on making aromatics from biomass. This contributes to meeting climate objectives in the chemical sector. Moreover, large companies are increasingly opting for the bio-based economy.

For years, we’ve been working at the shared research centre Biorizon to develop technologies for producing aromatics from residual biomass, together with companies and knowledge partners. Now it’s time to scale up with ADAPT, which stands for AciD Aromatics PiloT. This will be the first place in the world where aromatics from biomass are extracted in a high-quality and efficient manner. Because it’s too costly and complex to convert existing plants, a completely new production process is needed. With the pilot plant, we’re showing the world that we’re ahead of the pack and at the same time driving innovation and business activity in the Netherlands.

Want to know more? Visit the Relement website.

RetinaScope: portable camera that detects eye diseases

People with diabetes often have eye problems that can lead to blindness. They need regular monitoring, but this is time-consuming and costly. Together with us, start-up RetinaScope has developed an advanced portable camera that’s inexpensive and easy to use. This makes it possible to carry out more frequent and effective checks. For example, at GP practices, pharmacies, opticians, or the patient’s home. Special visits to a hospital or clinic are no longer necessary.

The GP or a specialist operating remotely assesses the images. A further advance would be fully automated analysis by artificial intelligence (AI) software. The camera recognises known eye diseases. These include diabetic retinopathy (retinal damage), glaucoma (a form of cataract), and macular degeneration (leading to impaired/blurred vision). Timely detection and treatment of these diseases can prevent or minimise damage to the eye. The camera therefore makes an important contribution to the fight against blindness. We’ve provided support with our in-depth expertise in optical technologies. We’ve also helped with industrial design, market exploration, and financing.

Want to know more? Visit the RetinaScope website.

SparkNano: new generation displays

Screen manufacturers were immediately enthusiastic when our experts demonstrated a revolutionary invention: a technology for manufacturing the next generation of OLED displays for TVs, tablets, and smartphones. These displays have much higher resolutions, better colours, a larger size, and they must also be flexible. Special technology is needed to make these screens: spatial Atomic Layer Deposition (sALD).

We’ve developed the sALD technology together with industrial partners. It’s a method of applying thin layers of functional materials to large glass plate surfaces. Our aim is to set up an industry in the Netherlands that makes machines to manufacture the displays of the future. We’ll then supply these machines to the major screen manufacturers. To achieve this aim, we’ve founded the company SparkNano.

Want to know more? Visit the SparkNano website.

SHM NXT: detecting and predicting damage in bridge structures

It’s preferable to detect cracks or other defects in bridges and viaducts before they become dangerous. This prevents accidents, maintenance costs, and traffic disruption. In recent years, we’ve developed methods and technologies with companies and Rijkswaterstaat (Department of Public Works and Water Management) to make this possible. One example is Structural Health Monitoring (SHM).

The wireless acoustic SHM sensors are special electronic ‘ears’. They continuously listen to ultrasonic sounds in the structure and use them to deduce a defect. They cover an area of up to 50 square metres. The sensors send the detailed, calculated information online to a data management system. Employees of the road authority can view the data via computer, tablet, or smartphone and see almost to the nearest centimetre what’s wrong or threatening to go wrong and at which location. Because it’s possible to predict exactly when maintenance is required, costs can be reduced by more than 50%. SHM can be used on every conceivable structure made of steel, concrete, wood, or combinations of those materials.

Want to know more? Visit the SHM Next website.

DNS Ninja: instantly detecting ransomware attacks worldwide

DNS Ninja continuously monitors the internal network for unusual actions by analysing the DNS traffic. The Domain Name System (DNS), also known as the Internet phonebook, translates domain names that you type into a browser into IP addresses. As soon as something abnormal happens, such as a very constant flow of data traffic where it normally fluctuates significantly, the DNS Ninja system sounds the alarm.

Our cyber experts followed a reverse line of reasoning when building the technology. They did not detect attacks from outside, but checked outgoing data traffic for discrepancies. DNS Ninja is just one of the many technologies that we’re developing in the field of cybersecurity. By transferring our knowledge and solutions, we’re making the Netherlands digitally safer and at the same time stimulating innovation and business activity here.

Want to know more? Visit the SightLabs website.

Solar Visuals: solar panels in all shapes and colours

The standard solar panel on the roof is making way for PV modules in all conceivable shapes, sizes, and colours. These can even be invisibly incorporated into a façade, for example. It was a major annoyance for architects in particular that they had little choice of colour and form. This stood in the way of the artistic design of energy-efficient buildings.

Our energy experts and creative companies have complemented each other perfectly. Development has now reached the point where the word ‘panel’ no longer applies, because the new PV modules can be applied to various materials and printed in different shapes and in full colour. And they can be fitted to large surfaces such as the façades of large office buildings, to create attractive or even invisible solar power façades. It’s a growing market, as more and more companies are looking for ways to generate energy themselves and want to do so aesthetically.

Want to know more? Visit the Solar Visuals website.

SolaRoad: the road that converts sunlight into electricity

SolaRoad is a road surface that captures sunlight and converts it into electricity. A big step towards an energy-neutral mobility system. In the Netherlands alone, there are hundreds of square kilometres of road surface. The idea behind SolaRoad is simple. If you’re building a road anyway, make the road surface transparent and place solar cells that generate energy underneath it.

In practice, it proved to be less straightforward. For example, how do you keep the road surface clean and safe to drive on, and how do you transport the energy generated to the electricity grid? We found a solution to all these problems in collaboration with the national government and industry. There’s already a cycle path in the province of Noord-Holland that successfully generates electricity. We’re also looking further ahead, for example at the possibility of supplying energy directly to vehicles driving on a SolaRoad. The US state of California is already interested. CalTrans, comparable to the Dutch Rijkswaterstaat (Department of Public Works and Water Management), is working there on an experiment with a SolaRoad.

Want to know more? Visit the SolaRoad website.

Studio Automated: AI for broadcasting live events

Over the past decade, we’ve built up considerable knowledge about pattern recognition. We’ve used it to develop software that recognises people and their movements on video images. This is how the spin-off Studio Automated came into being. The clever application of AI and deep-learning algorithms opens up endless possibilities. For example, the Studio Automated system can recognise game situations and people, but also predict where the next action will most likely take place.

The camera automatically moves with the action during a live event (concert, sports match, product presentation, etc.). According to the operator’s choice, it can film the entire field, follow a specific situation, and record the highlights. In fact, the software ‘automates’ the camera operator and the director. The product is unique in that it can classify certain game situations and control them in real time, in combination with standard hardware. This technology can be used in many sectors, such as sports and media, health and safety, or mobility and logistics. But also in security, for example by detecting patterns for the timely recognition of suspicious behaviour by individuals or undesirable situations.

Want to know more? Visit the Studio Animated website.

TBQ: increasing fire safety with Fire Check

We’ve developed the inspection tool Fire Check for healthcare institutions, to demonstrate that fire safety is in good order. In the unique calculation model underlying this tool, all the structural, technical, organisational, and cultural measures to be taken have been calculated in detail to assess their effectiveness. By accurately identifying risks, fire safety can be increased without unnecessary investment. Care institutions can use the tool to show the fire service or the inspectorate that the measures taken adequately guarantee safety.

Fire Check runs on computers, tablets, and smartphones, and is available for iOS, Windows, and Android. The user can view the property with all its characteristics and complete a questionnaire, enabling management to demonstrate compliance. The model then calculates where any risks exist and how to deal with them. The company TBQ (Tools for Building Quality) focuses on developing similar fire safety tools in other areas, such as office buildings, schools, nurseries, hotels, and student residences.

Want to know more? Visit the TBQ website.

Tiledmedia: high-quality VR image screening

Virtual reality (VR) makes it possible to project images through special glasses. The high-quality picture and sound enable you to experience a different reality in a very realistic way, wherever you are. For example, you can walk through a jungle or attend a concert. Sending VR images in such high quality requires an enormous amount of bandwidth. To project them, you need a super-fast internet connection, unless you compromise on image quality. Our media experts came up with a solution and founded the start-up Tiledmedia.

The solution is to cut the images into pieces, or tiles. Then you only stream the fragments that the user needs at a particular moment, because on VR glasses with a 360-degree video, the viewer only ever sees part of it. Tiledmedia’s technology detects what the user is looking at through the glasses at a specific moment and calculates in milliseconds which images are needed. There are very many conceivable applications, for example, for travel organisations, companies that help people with a fear of heights or of flying, and the education sector. The company is expanding under its own steam. But for new technologies, Tiledmedia is continuing to work with us as shareholder.

Want to know more? Visit the Tiledmedia website.

Torwash: waste sludge from cost item to source of revenue

The sewage treatment plants in the Netherlands generate about 1.5 million tonnes of sludge per year. This ends up in the furnaces of waste incineration plants. Cost: approximately 100 million euros. We’ve developed the Torwash processing method, which reduces the amount of sludge by as much as 85%. In addition, the treatment leaves behind a substance that can serve as fuel. Revenue instead of costs!

The key to the Torwash method is to initiate a chemical reaction under high pressure and temperature without additives. This reaction almost completely squeezes the water out of the sludge and removes the salt. This works much better than existing techniques such as centrifuging and decanting. What remains is a dry substance that’s suitable for making fuel pellets. The remaining aqueous material can be efficiently fermented into biogas. In addition to savings, the method therefore generates 2 derived products and thus revenues. Water treatment is the most important market for Torwash. But the method is also perfectly suited for manure processing.

Want to know more? Visit the Torwash website.

TrustTester Solutions: online privacy and digital services

Validating information in business transactions without actually providing or storing data. This is the added value of TrustTester. This unique service combines an algorithm of ours with an appointment system. Together, they ensure that organisations can rely on the accuracy of information a person enters into an online process or into the Blockchain. At the same time, individuals retain their privacy.

In fact, the receiving organisations are not concerned with the information itself. They just want to know whether that information is correct. TrustTester provides the ‘correct’ certification by validating the information provided online. It gives this information a digital value attribute that the recipient can rely on 100%. In practice, TrustTester is similar to iDEAL. After users have entered information online, they choose the reliable source where the information will be validated. This is where the users authenticate themselves. The patented secure data-comparing protocol digitally checks the correctness of the information provided online. The receiving organisation then knows whether or not it is correct.

Want to know more? Visit the TrustTester website or watch the TrustTester animation.

Valley Optics: new development strategy for opto-mechanical systems

Valley Optics is working on an innovative platform that facilitates the entire process of opto-mechanical system development, from customer specifications to the final product. The platform will be suitable for developing almost all types of opto-mechanical applications. These include complex high-tech instrumentation in, for example, aerospace and lithography.

The design of opto-mechanical systems has so far relied heavily on the experience of the technicians involved. The Valley Optics platform helps project teams make the right choices. Where there are countless options available, humans may be unable to assess the consequences of certain choices. The platform creates a clear and structured overview of the technical solutions available.

Want to know more? Visit the Valley Optics website.