3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), is gaining ground in more and more sectors and the number of applications of this technology is growing rapidly too. The problem is that the 3D printing process is still too slow to manufacture products on an industrial scale. In recent decades, TNO has made several technological breakthroughs in the field of AM production speed in various market segments. The start-up company AMSYSTEMS has introduced a number of these technologies to the market which will help accelerate the development of 3D printing in the automotive, aerospace and other manufacturing industries.
AMSYSTEMS is currently focussing on manufacturers of 3D printers who have the capacity to build much faster machines by integrating these special technologies without compromising on quality. This will bring us closer to mass customisation: the mass production of series of non-identical products.
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Facts & Figures
Number of personnel
co-founder and CEO of AMSYSTEMS:
WELCOME TO THE 25 TNO SPIN-OFFS
“We sell our patented components to manufacturers of large industrial printers, but we also offer something unique in another area. As part of the Brainport Eindhoven initiative, we work closely together with manufacturers, materials suppliers, knowledge institutes such as Holst Center and Eindhoven University of Technology, and other partners. This partnership functions as a hub of information for major companies around the world who want to invest in 3D printing and offers a combination of applied knowledge and industrial expertise of all aspects of AM that cannot be found anywhere else. As an engineer in heart and soul, I get a kick out of developing new technologies that have a practical application in society. This 3D printing technology adds real value to existing manufacturing processes. The technologies developed by TNO are of an exceptionally high level, which is why I am convinced that we can successfully market them.”
“BY WORKING TOGETHER, WE CAN WIN THE TRUST OF GLOBAL INDUSTRIAL PARTIES AND THUS TRANSLATE THIS REGION’S KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS INTO SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS.”
The idea is certainly not new, but it has taken a lot of time and effort to get all parties on the same wavelength when it comes to scaling up ‘Better in, better out’ (BiBo™). With BiBo™, patients who have to undergo surgery are prepped a few weeks in advance. After all, going into hospital in a good condition often means getting out sooner. Offering support with fitness and nutrition prior to an operation accelerates recovery afterwards, prevents medical complications and saves enormously on costs. The start-up BiBo Innovations B.V., founded late 2017 by Maastricht University, Care IQ and TNO, will help to scale up this method in a number of locations across the Netherlands. Hospitals in Deventer, Drachten, Ede, Groningen, Maastricht and Veldhoven have already shown that the BiBo™ method bears fruit in practice. In order to scale up BiBo™, a Health Deal will be signed by six hospitals, primary care providers, insurers and other private parties.
PRIOR PREPARATION ENABLES
MD BiBo Innovations B.V.:
“The collaboration within the Health Deal is the first step towards a national scale-up, because everyone knows that the method works. Physiotherapists or nutritionists help vulnerable patients to get in better shape. This approach can lead to roughly halving the number of recovery days both inside and out of hospital, so patients can function much more quickly at home or at work. National implementation of this method requires collaboration and agreements to be arranged among many parties. The fact that we can now get started with a group of frontrunners gives me a great deal of satisfaction and motivates me to work even harder. Using a smartphone, you can book a complete holiday trip with all the trimmings, and leave today. We want this form of care to be just as easy to organise, so that the patient is served quickly and in a way that is tailored to his or her needs. And it will work.”
JORIS VAN DEN HURK,
“THIS NEW FORM OF COLLABORATION TRANSLATES INTO A BREAKTHROUGH IN HEALTHCARE”
Health & Care
director of Blue Heart Energy:
HEAT PUMP ON ITS WAY
A new type of heat pump, which in time will be comparable in price to the current central heating boiler, should conquer the market by 2022. In terms of both production and purchasing, it will be much cheaper than the current generation of heat pumps, and will also be easier to install in a home. This will make it more attractive for households to switch from natural gas to solar energy for their heating and hot water. The new heat pump is based on technology from the former ECN, now part of TNO, and further developed by the start-up Blue Heart Energy. Conventional heat pumps operate according to the same principles as a refrigerator using hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Since these HFCs increase the greenhouse effect, they should no longer be used in the long term. The new type of heat pump is thermo-acoustic, making it a sustainable heat source for homes and offices.
“What we have achieved now is the result of more than fifteen years of research and development. With thermo-acoustic technology, we are creating a heat pump which goes far beyond the current generation in terms of performance and cost reduction. The equipment is affordable, easy to install and makes a significant contribution to the energy transition. That’s what motivates me and our team every day. We are coming up with a technical solution to a problem that affects the whole world: how can we make our energy supply sustainable as quickly as possible and at an affordable price? We are now in the final testing phase and hope to start producing on a large scale by 2022. The built environment can then really rid itself of gas. We’re working on this every day with great enthusiasm.”
SUSTAINABLE AND AFFORDABLE
Energy Transition & Sustainability
BLUE HEART ENERGY
“THE THERMO-ACOUSTIC HEAT PUMP WILL SOON PROPEL OUR COUNTRY TO THE FOREFRONT AND PUT US IN A POSITION TO CONQUER THE WORLD”
“It is painful that after years of trying, we still have no effective drug to treat fibrosis. But I am hopeful that we are now on the right track. The discovery of this enzyme is a breakthrough. We have developed a test to measure the activity of the enzyme so that we can develop inhibitors to block it. We will then show that it should be possible to develop a drug for this condition. In fact, we expect virtually no side effects, because the drug we envisage will not disrupt healthy wound healing. For a researcher and entrepreneur, this is a once in a lifetime chance to make a real difference. Only a small number of initiatives such as this one are ever successful, but you can’t win if you don’t try. We’re going to give everything we’ve got to make this unique opportunity a success.”
“WE HAVE DEVELOPED A TEST TO IDENTIFY SUITABLE INHIBITORS AND WILL SHOW THAT A CURE FOR FIBROSIS IS POSSIBLE.”
Fibrosis, a condition in which normal wound healing turns into scarring, can be life-threatening if it occurs in organs such as the lungs, liver, kidneys or heart. Lifestyle-related liver fibrosis in particular is reaching epidemic proportions worldwide. It leads to loss of function of the liver and eventually to death. Although tens of millions of people suffer from severe fibrosis, there is still no cure for this disease. TNO has been studying fibrosis for a long time and recently identified an enzyme that plays a crucial role in the formation of scar tissue in numerous organs. The startup CollaneX Therapeutics is building on this discovery and hopes to ultimately develop a drug with a low likelihood of side effects.
HOPE FOR NEW DRUG TO TREAT
co-founder and director of CollaneX:
“Some proteins function as biomarkers for diseases,” says. “If there are high concentrations of these proteins in your blood, they can be used for diagnostic tests. A single drop of blood is enough, and soon you will be able to do the test at home. A platform for conducting various diagnostic tests is now in its final stages of development. We are in the process of perfecting this platform together with various partners. As a researcher, my heart starts beating faster when I think of how we will soon be able to use this technology to save lives by detecting disorders in their early stages. It’s thrilling to be able to make such an important contribution to healthcare.”
It only takes a simple prick in your finger at your GP surgery or at home – a tiny drop of blood which is analysed in a small device with a biosensor – and within a few minutes you will know if you have a condition. Delta Diagnostics, a TNO spin-off founded in 2019, is well on the way to developing a technology that can measure biomarkers in the blood quickly, accurately and inexpensively. The technology could be used to detect if someone has had a heart attack or stroke or has developed tumours. The test could also be used to detect viruses. Today, such diagnostic tests require extensive, time-consuming and costly lab research. The technology is so promising that investment fund UNIIQ has made €200,000 available for further development. The test can also be used to monitor the condition of patients at home, so they do not have to visit a GP or hospital for regular check-ups.
QUICKLY AND CHEAPLY
BART DE BOER,
“OUR TEAM OF EXPERTS IN BIOCHEMISTRY, ELECTRONICS AND OPTICS, HAS DEVELOPED A PROTOTYPE WHICH IS ALREADY ATTRACTING MUCH INTEREST FROM INVESTORS.”
founder and director of Delta Diagnostics:
For decades, TNO has been developing safety software for the oil and gas industry, petrochemicals sector and the built environment so that companies, governments and emergency services can calculate and analyse the effects of various scenarios and, therefore, reduce risks. Two large software packages, EFFECTS and RISKCURVES, became independent at the end of 2018 and were transferred to the joint venture Gexcon Netherlands, in which TNO has a minority interest. The Norwegian parent company Gexcon AS (part of the NORCE research institute) will continue to develop the software and get it to market. This will enable risks to be minimised when planning the construction of an installation and consequences to be calculated in the event of an incident.
VICTOR VAN SWINDEREN,
Safety & Security
“For more than ten years, I have been actively working at TNO to offer this software – based on scientific knowledge and models – to the global market. Thanks to the joint venture with Gexcon, we are now perfectly positioned to further develop this safety software both technically and commercially. Independent entrepreneurship is new for me, but Gexcon offers plenty of opportunities for this. It’s all about safety here, and it’s great to be able to take this a step further with like-minded colleagues.”
“BEING YOUR OWN BOSS IN THE NEW ENVIRONMENT OF GEXCON AND HELPING TO DETERMINE THE DIRECTION IS A GREAT STEP FORWARD”
general manager of Gexcon Netherlands:
PETER-PAUL VAN MAANEN,
Hand baggage scanning at airports can be done much more quickly and efficiently without compromising on security. In fact, the solution from the start-up JOA Scanning Technology actually reduces queues while increasing security. This is all thanks to eye-tracking technology that follows the eye movements of baggage-checking security staff on a screen. The places that he or she first looks are often the most likely to be at risk. Combined with state-of-the-art 3D object recognition, possible threats can be detected immediately, resulting in faster verification, fewer false alarms and no suspicious circumstances being overlooked: improved security at a lower cost. Potential customers who were shown an initial version of the product were highly impressed.
“Airport security remains a global issue. If you come up with a highly innovative solution, you have to overcome a lot of scepticism. But the suppliers of airport security systems have every confidence in our product. It’s great that investors are interested in an idea that TNO has helped to develop into something concrete. I find it an enormous challenge, and also quite exciting, to come up with a product that really benefits customers, airports, travellers and society as a whole. With a small, close-knit team, we are now working to make this young company a success. The transition from researcher at TNO to entrepreneur has been very special for me and gives me an enormous amount of energy.”
“GETTING UNDERWAY WITH A TECHNOLOGY THAT THE WORLD IS REALLY WAITING FOR; DELIVERING ON OUR PROMISES TO CUSTOMERS IS A WONDERFUL CHALLENGE”
FASTER AND SAFER
JOA SCANNING TECHNOLOGY
CTO and co-founder:
NEW TYPE OF BATTERY ENHANCES THE
director and co-founder:
Today’s generation of lithium-ion batteries falls short of what will be needed in the near future, for example for electric transport and renewable energy storage. The start-up LeydenJar has developed a unique technology that will allow this type of battery to hold 50% more energy in the future. Cars will then be able to drive further on a single charge, and the storage of energy from the sun and wind will become much cheaper. This makes it an important innovation for accelerating the energy transition. New storage techniques such as these are essential for the use of renewable energy. From battery factories to the automotive industry, it’s no wonder that large companies worldwide want to do business with this young company. In 2019, a demo factory will be opened in the Eindhoven region to demonstrate the industrial production of anode foil, a core component of Li-ion batteries.
“A LEADING FOREIGN MULTINATIONAL WAS SO IMPRESSED BY OUR TECHNOLOGY THAT WE ARE GOING TO APPLY IT IN THE BATTERIES FOR THEIR PRODUCTS”
“As an entrepreneur, this is a dream for me – developing a unique product with a great team in a high-tech company that makes the world a little better. The sun and wind generate energy very irregularly, so you have to store it to use it at the right time. The former ECN (now part of TNO) invented a better battery anode as a by-product of thin film solar cell technology, and we then developed it further. The battery industry is booming and is estimated at around 250 billion euros per year. In Brainport Eindhoven, we are unique in our knowledge of solar cells and one of their production processes: plasma deposition, which we use in our product. We must ensure that Europe, through the Netherlands, continues to innovate technologically before Asia surpasses us in large-scale production. Giving the world a unique product for a sustainable planet – we are passionate about that.”
“Scanning probe microscopy technology was great but extremely slow. Together with our partners, we are unique in being the first to succeed in making SPM applicable in the manufacturing control process. The first round of investments shows how interested the market is in our solution. What I like most is that we’re turning a technology developed within TNO into a tangible product that can be applied worldwide. It’s wonderful, of course, to see new laptops, tablets and smartphones with a ‘piece of Nearfield’ inside them. We are also hiring more and more people. Within a year, we grew from four employees to thirty. On top of that, dozens of people at our partner organisations are also working on our product development. This collaboration is full of energy.”
CEO of Nearfield Instruments:
WORLD LEADER IN
The dizzying growth in the total amount of data requires ever faster processors and ever more efficient memory in computers and other equipment. At the same time, chips must be as small and energy-efficient as possible. The start-up Nearfield Instruments develops control equipment for the semiconductor industry to optimise the production process. This is done on the basis of parallel scanning probe microscopy, a technology developed by TNO. Nearfield Instruments has industrialised the technique into a measurement system that can measure up to a thousand times faster than existing products. This method is so promising that Samsung Venture Investment Corporation and the Dutch investment fund Innovation Industries have collectively invested ten million euros in it. The machines that Nearfield Instruments will supply from 2020 onward will enable chip manufacturers to monitor the production processes of the latest generation of chips at the highest level.
“EVEN BEFORE WE’VE DELIVERED THE FIRST MACHINE TO A CUSTOMER, WE’RE ALREADY CONTRIBUTING TO NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES IN OUR COUNTRY”
FOR CHIP MANUFACTURERS
ROLAND VAN VLIET,
“We switched from the cathode-ray tube to flat TV, and now the foldable screen is on its way. Highly practical: you can unfold the display into something bigger to make it easier to work with, watch a movie or play a game. Our technology will help make this possible. We hope to deliver the first SALD machine by the end of 2019. It will show that flexible screens can soon be mass produced. It really gives me energy to work with colleagues and partners on a method and machine for the manufacture of the next generation of screens. I can’t wait to see people on the street, at home or at work using products that we conceived and produced with our partners. Flexible screens have been talked about for a long time; now it’s almost time for them to become a reality.”
“OUR TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS MANUFACTURERS TO OFFER NEW AND REVOLUTIONARY PRODUCTS TO CONSUMERS”
CTO of SALDtech:
NEW TECHNIQUE FOR MANUFACTURING
The displays of TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones will all be highly flexible in the near future. You’ll be able to unfold your smartphone into a tablet, or you may have a rolled-up display in your pocket. However the manufacturers of OLED displays are not yet ready. They are therefore very interested in a technology that TNO has devised, enabling them to manufacture such screens soon. The spin-off SALDtech develops machines based on Spatial Atomic Layer Deposition technology, to efficiently produce the future generation of displays. This is a unique method for making flexible displays consisting of ultra-thin layers. Displays are currently cut from glass plates that are several metres in size. Current ALD technology cannot cope with these dimensions and speeds. SALDtech develops machines for dimensions that are ten times larger and can be produced up to a hundred times faster.
Structures made of steel and/or concrete such as bridges and viaducts are subject to wear and tear due to ageing, heavy loads and other causes. Major accidents can be prevented if we can identify exactly where such a structure has started to weaken. SHM Next is marketing a TNO technology that can detect the precise locations and the progression of cracks and other defects at an early stage, so that measures can be taken before things go wrong. This will prevent unnecessary structural inspections and repair and so make the maintenance of these structures cheaper and more efficient. The technique is called Structural Health Monitoring and is carried out with special wireless ultrasonic sensors that are installed in the structure itself. The technology has already been proven in a number of key Dutch bridges in a partnership with the government’s civil engineering department, Rijkswaterstaat. The sensor analyses are used to calculate when maintenance is required and so guarantee the safety of these structures.
co-founder of SHM Next:
“WE HAVE TRANSLATED OUR PASSION FOR INNOVATION INTO PRODUCTS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO A SAFER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY.”
OF STRUCTURAL DEFECTS WITH SENSORS
“You can substantially reduce maintenance costs if you can predict exactly when measures are necessary. Our sensors constantly monitor ultrasonic sounds in the structure and can identify a defect and its precise location based on this. The data can be read remotely. Following successful demonstrations on existing bridges, we have now developed various sensor systems that can also be used for wind turbines, offshore oil and gas platforms and other critical structures. In a short period of time we have brought together a great multidisciplinary team that combines knowledge of materials, signal processing, microelectronics, data processing and more. Together we are developing unique hardware and software that enables our customers to keep their engineering structures safe and lower their costs.”
INNOVATIVE SOLUTION PROTECTS AGAINST
Safety & Security
“Large companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) work with detection solutions that revolve around recognising intruders on the basis of known hallmarks of previously-executed attacks. Our solution focuses on the small percentage that attack the company and go unnoticed. Intruders remain hidden in the network until they strike and potentially cause huge damage. Based on machine learning and algorithms, we follow a reversed but highly effective method of monitoring behavioural changes in communication patterns from within the internal network. It’s exciting to be able to make a significant contribution to cybersecurity with a new company and an unconventional product. It’s been a big step to go from TNO to entrepreneurship, but it’s also an adventure that appeals to me. Supported by the guidance of the TNO Tech Transfer team, we’ve been able to prepare ourselves well for the step to the market.”
It’s already difficult enough to sufficiently protect computer networks from external attacks. But what if the intruder is already on the inside without your knowledge, as happened late 2018 when data from 500 million Marriott Hotel customers was stolen? The spin-off Sightlabs has developed tools based on TNO technology to keep an eye on both outgoing and internal traffic rather than just incoming traffic in corporate networks by monitoring DNS (Domain Name System) requests, which determine the routing of internet and internal data traffic. Deviations – such as a particularly constant flow of data traffic that would normally be subject to significant fluctuation – are immediately identified by the system. The software (with built-in algorithms) was initially developed for the banking industry but is now applicable in all vital sectors, such as energy, telecom, government and companies with valuable intellectual property.
founder and former CEO
“WRITING A BUSINESS PLAN FROM AN IDEA, GETTING CUSTOMERS AND INVESTORS ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE STORY AND EVENTUALLY SOLVING A PROBLEM FOR THE CUSTOMER: THIS IS THE BEST REWARD EVER”
“WINNING THE CLEAN CHALLENGE AWARD FOR THE BEST CLEAN ENERGY SOLUTION FOR AMSTERDAM (WITH HUNDREDS OF ENTRIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD) WAS INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION FOR OUR PRODUCT”
IN ALL SHAPES, SIZES AND COLOURS
Energy Transition & Sustainability
“Architects, project developers, construction companies: they’re all interested because this represents a revolution in creating energy-producing buildings. We will soon be equipping the Shell building near the IJ river in Amsterdam with our Solar Visuals facade panels. ProRail and BAM want to work with us near a new partnership project. It just feels good to make the world a little better and more beautiful through a new product. This will help the built environment to become energy-neutral more quickly. We started in the Dutch Solar Design project with a glass product, and are also developing facade applications with solar cells in combination with other materials that are circular, light, less vulnerable and easy to assemble. Contributing to the energy transition is a dream come true.”
For a long time, PV modules were available in just one shape and format. Like the T-Ford, they only came in black and did not look particularly attractive. Experts from ECN, now part of TNO, took on the challenge to change this, not solely from the point of view of aesthetics but, more importantly, because flexible modules enable you to take advantage of a much greater surface area, such as complete facades. They succeeded in this challenge through collaborations with creative companies. Architects are enthusiastic because every sort of shape and colour can now be applied, giving them the freedom to design buildings that generate energy without compromising the aesthetics. And the total surface area of the facades is enormous. Buildings may soon become energy-neutral or even net producers of electricity. This is the ideal combination of efficiency and aesthetics. From a tranquil pattern to a spectacular design: the sky’s the limit.
CEO of Solar Visuals:
To be able to generate solar energy on a large scale, it’s important to use as much existing surface area as possible. Our road network has a paved surface area of about 1,200 square kilometres. TNO first devised and developed a bicycle path that produces electricity. This proved a success and opened the way to many other applications. These are now produced by the spin-off SolaRoad, which is working closely with TNO, the provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland and the road construction company Strukton. The latest project involves solar cell testing in the road surface of provincial roads with heavy freight and bus traffic. The Netherlands is at the forefront of solar energy generation in roads. This can make an important contribution to the energy transition and to energy neutral mobility.
“THE HEAVY TRAFFIC PILOT IS A TEXTBOOK EXAMPLE OF USEFUL COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE AUTHORITIES”
STEN DE WIT,
co-founder and former director:
ROADS WILL PRODUCE MORE AND MORE
“The generated electricity can be used not only to supply households, but also for road lighting, traffic installations or the direct charging of electric cars. Equipping part of our 140,000-kilometre road network with solar cells can cover at least ten percent of our electricity needs. I have devoted a large part of my working life to sustainable solutions. It’s my passion and dream to contribute to this now through SolaRoad. The great thing is that this application is both sustainable and does not affect the landscape – twice the benefit. There are many opportunities here for the business community. Innovations such as these create new business activities. In the Netherlands, we’re setting a good example to the world.”
“CONVINCING A HEALTHCARE INSTITUTION OF YOUR PRODUCT’S VALUE WITHIN A FEW MINUTES AND THUS SCORING YOUR FIRST CUSTOMER: A REAL MILESTONE”
AT LOWER COST
“Healthcare institutions really do find the app a godsend. You can go through a questionnaire on a tablet and the app calculates all of the risks. With this app you can effectively demonstrate the fire safety of a building. Expensive physical inspections can be carried out much more quickly. All the data is put in a digital file, from which you can make a report. We also tested the app in collaboration with experts from a safety region. It’s a great pleasure to put something in the market that helps to increase people’s safety. And all this in a way that’s cheaper and much more efficient. Now that the product has been so enthusiastically received, we’re going to put our passion into making the app suitable for other sectors. And we’re working on an app to manage the risk of legionella.”
Many rules and regulations apply to the fire safety of buildings. Owners of real estate, including health care institutions, must be able to demonstrate that they meet the set requirements. This is unnecessarily time-consuming and costly. TNO has reversed this approach and developed a method based on risk management. These measures have turned out to be much cheaper and yet at least as effective. The Brandcheck (fire check) tool calculates to a detailed level the effectiveness of all of the structural, installation, organisational and cultural measures needed for fire safety. The start-up TBQ (Tools for Building Quality) has already applied the app in various care institutions. In the coming period, additional versions will be made available for office buildings, schools, daycare centres, hotels and student houses.
CEO of TBQ:
co-founder and CEO of Tiledmedia:
“THE FACT THAT A GIANT LIKE DEUTSCHE TELEKOM WANTED TO WORK WITH US WAS A REAL BREAKTHROUGH, AND THAT PROJECT ALSO EARNED US A PRESTIGIOUS INTERNATIONAL AWARD”
A MATCH OR CONCERT AS IF YOU WERE REALLY THERE
“When four of us within TNO jumped in at the deep end in 2017, we did so without any major investors. Within a year and a half, we had twelve people working on developing the world’s best streaming technology. At least that’s what the multinationals who have committed to us as customers say. Companies will soon let you virtually attend important matches or special concerts while you choose your camera position. As an electrical engineer, I have always been fascinated by the application of technology. It’s nice to think up something smart, but it’s really cool that consumers all over the world will actually use your idea. Letting them experience something that wasn’t possible before – as an entrepreneur and a technician, gives you real satisfaction.”
The current fixed and mobile infrastructure is totally insufficient for the streaming of high-quality virtual reality video. Based on previously-developed TNO technology, the start-up Tiledmedia has devised and constructed a method to make this possible. Late 2018 customers of Deutsche Telekom wearing VR glasses on the sofa at home were able to watch a 6K basketball game as if they were there. And they could choose a spot in the stands or along the line, close to the players. The experience offered is so realistic that therapists are now using the product to help people with phobias such as vertigo. You can even virtually attend concerts and festivals anywhere in the world, as if you were in the venue, on stage or wherever you want. There are also interesting applications on the horizon for education and healthcare.
“A lot of palm oil is produced in countries near the equator, and the residual streams are currently either incinerated or dumped in landfills. Both methods of disposal cause enormous air pollution. A major palm oil producer in Malaysia wants to deploy our technology on an industrial scale. We will build a pilot reactor there with a capacity to produce a tonne of pellets per hour. This capacity can be quickly expanded if the pilot is successful. The waste will now be processed in carefully controlled conditions and converted into pellets, electricity or heat. It’s really exciting to develop and market such a completely new innovation. Getting your invention from the lab to the demo phase and then to an actual factory is real a kick for an engineer. This is a wonderful opportunity for our company to help solve a serious social issue.”
“THREE LOCAL WATER AUTHORITIES HAVE AGREED TO COME ON BOARD AND INVEST IN TORWASH, WHICH WILL OPEN THE DOOR TO NEW MARKETS.”
founder and managing director:
TURNING ORGANIC WASTE INTO
Many waste streams that are currently incinerated, such as sludge from purified sewage water, can be treated using a special method and then reused. One such form of waste is the residual streams from palm oil plantations that are now burned on a massive scale in the open air. The TORWASH technology developed by TNO ‘washes’ the waste, after which the substance that remains can be made into fuel pellets, while the wastewater can be converted into biogas through a fermentation process. Local water authorities in the Netherlands will carry out a practical trial whereby 500 kilograms of sludge per hour will be reduced by almost 90%, which will save them considerable costs and generate a valuable residual product. Palm oil producers in Southeast Asia have demonstrated an interest in this technology to convert their residual flows into fuels and at the same time drastically reduce the air pollution caused by incinerating the waste. This will benefit them in three ways: by saving them money, by producing a saleable residual product and by reducing the burden on the environment.
Energy Transition & Sustainability
LEVIEN DE LEGÉ,
ARJAN VAN DIEMEN,
co-founder and director:
“THE FACT THAT OUR APPLICATION, WHICH CONTRIBUTES TO THE OPTIMISATION OF THE VOTING PROCESS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE ABROAD, WON FIRST PRIZE AT ‘STARTUP IN RESIDENCE THE HAGUE 2018’ WAS AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT ALSO HAS CONFIDENCE IN OUR SOLUTION”
OF BEING SURE:
VALIDATING CORRECTNESS INSTEAD OF SHARING ONLINE INFORMATION
“First at IBM and later at TNO, I experienced the risks of large-scale data storage, analysis and exchanges, as well as the opportunities these offer. We have devised a way of verifying information in which the parties in the chain cannot see or read the content. We developed a case study for the municipality of The Hague to make debt assistance much more effective. This helps people with financial problems and saves the municipality a lot of money. We can now count among our clients a financing company, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. My passion? Allowing organisations to work smarter and more efficiently, while fully guaranteeing the privacy of those involved because you don’t have to share data.”
Transactions that require the verification of an applicant’s data are usually cumbersome, time-consuming and costly. Verification can be done much more efficiently and cost-effectively in a 100% secure manner. What normally takes two weeks’ worth of red tape is now dealt with in a matter of seconds. Process redesign is the unique added value of the spin-off TrustTester Solutions: validating information directly, efficiently and securely without sharing data. A bank or web shop, for example, can ask if the information supplied digitally by a customer is correct. Via the Digital Trust framework, this can be verified by trusted sources such as a municipality, land registry or employee insurance agency. The exchange of data is therefore not necessary. This means of verification is applicable in the redesigns processes of all sectors and allows for new, innovative services.
“THE ENTHUSIASTIC REACTIONS OF CUSTOMERS WHEN WE DEMONSTRATE OUR APPROACH, INVOLVING A CLEVER COMBINATION OF VARIOUS INNOVATIONS, MOTIVATES US ENORMOUSLY AND STIMULATES US TO GO FURTHER.”
DEVELOPED TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Valley Optics is building an innovative platform that facilitates the entire process of opto-mechanical system development, from the customer’s specifications to the final product. The platform will be suitable for the development of virtually all types of opto-mechanical applications, including complex high-tech instrumentation for the aerospace and lithography industries, for example. The design of opto-mechanical systems has always been highly dependent on the experience of the technicians involved. With the introduction of smart algorithms and knowledge developed by TNO, Valley Optics has now built a platform to help multidisciplinary project teams choose the best solutions. Where humans are unable to oversee the consequences of certain choices when there are countless options available, the platform can create a clear and structured overview of the currently feasible technical solutions for them. The method was assessed by highly experienced scientists and optical designers and their conclusion was unanimous: this is a unique methodology for which there is great demand in the market.
“Conceiving creative and smart solutions is really stimulating for researchers with engineering backgrounds like us. Valley Optics’ product creates an opportunity for our customers to be more creative and to develop applications that otherwise would not yet be feasible. This will enable technology companies and developers around the world to build significantly better systems, even with less experienced engineers. In addition to considerable cost reductions, this approach will accelerate innovation and improve the competitive position of our customers. Valley Optics wants to play a key enabling role and we are proud to be taking steps in this direction.”
Key Enabling Technology
PASCAL VAN GROL,
co-founder and CEO of Valley Optics:
“WE ARE ALREADY CARRYING OUT EXPERIMENTS FOR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS TO DEMONSTRATE THE POSSIBILITIES.”
co-founder and CTO of Keiron Technologies
WITH ADDITIONAL FEATURES
CHEAP PRODUCTION OF
STEFAN VAN WAALWIJK VAN DOORN,
“We are now able to add electronic functions to simple, inexpensive chips at an acceptable cost. Chip manufacturers can add our printer to their production process to enhance their chips with extra features. The machine is very flexible. It can simultaneously print a variety of materials in any desired pattern on the chips in a mass production line. Chips with electronic functionality are currently extremely expensive, but with our technology they will only cost a few euros at most. It’s great to be able to work with a small team in a new company on the development of solutions for tomorrow. Our technology may enable people to analyse their blood or saliva at home instead of carrying out expensive lab tests. It could also be used to test food or conduct analyses in the field. In fact, the possibilities are endless; it makes your brain reel just thinking about it.”
TNO experts have developed a laser printing technology that can add special features to standard chips in a mass production line. This brings many new applications for microfluidics within reach, such as the ability to test electrical properties of (biocomponents) in liquids. The technology to add additional features to chips already exists, but it is an extremely expensive manufacturing process. The new laser technology makes it possible to add electronic circuits to the ‘bare’ chips in a contactless process whereby both the conductive materials and the insulation material can be printed simultaneously during production. The laser can rapidly and simultaneously deposit any desired pattern of liquid and solid materials on the chip surface. The technology offers great opportunities for mass production of flexible electronics.
“THE BATTERY HAS SO MUCH PROMISE THAT WE ARE ALREADY BUILDING A SMALL PRE-PILOT LINE AT TNO WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM THE MINISTRY OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS AND CLIMATE POLICY AND THE PROVINCE OF NOORD-BRABANT.”
TO PLACE THE NETHERLANDS
AMONG THE WORLD’S BEST
“The way it works at TNO is that you put forward a carefully substantiated idea, you are given the go-ahead by management, and then you gather together a team of experts. It took five years of research and experimentation, but now we are putting the finishing touches to the demonstrator. This will put the Netherlands on the map as the inventor and producer of a completely new type of battery. These days, almost everything to do with batteries comes from Asia. We need to break this dependency and ensure we become the epicentre of new battery technology, with our own factories, suppliers and high-quality employment opportunities. It has always been my dream to see an idea transformed into a product that will make the world a little better. Batteries play an indispensable role in the energy transition. This battery is fast and safe, with a high energy density and a long service life, so in principle it will even be suitable for electric flight. What more could you want?”
co-founder and CTO:
The new generation of batteries is safe, compact and quick to charge because, unlike conventional batteries, they do not contain liquid electrolytes. The secret lies in a unique combination of two technologies, 3D substrate and Spatial Atomic Layer Deposition (SALD), developed by TNO and its industrial partners in the Holst Centre. Spin-off company LionVolt will soon have a proof-of-concept of the battery ready to demonstrate this extraordinary invention to the world. Conventional batteries can catch fire or explode and charge relatively slowly. LionVolt’s battery does not have these disadvantages because it is solid state. The batteries are produced using 3D technology by applying several billion ‘pillars’ with layers of thin-film materials to a surface. The result is that the ions only need to travel a short distance, which makes charging extremely fast. The first batteries off the production line will be used in wearables, smartphones and tablets, but LionVolt also foresees applications in heavy duty transport, shipping and aviation.
“WE HAVE NOT YET HAD A EUREKA MOMENT, BUT WE’VE COME A LONG WAY TOWARDS MAKING THIS A TECHNICALLY, ECONOMICALLY AND LEGALLY SOUND SOLUTION.”
“We’re still trying to work out the best business case. There are various technological challenges; you can’t just combine all drugs together in one pill, even if there are ways to separate them in a pil. A positive development is the availability of more and more data on patients and how they respond to medication. With the patient’s permission, the physician, hospital and pharmacy can combine data in order to create a tailor-made pill which can then be printed. The information systems used in the Dutch healthcare sector are already suited to this purpose. As a healthcare provider and entrepreneur, I will continue to work enthusiastically with TNO staff to make this idea a reality. Over a million people in the Netherlands use more than five drugs. Together with TNO, I am motivated to improve the quality of pharmaceutical care for the patient while at the same time reducing healthcare costs in the Netherlands.”
Pharmacist Wouter Pannekoek wants to develop a solution for printing carefully tailored prescriptions of drugs in a single pill and delivering them to the customer’s own pharmacy. He is working with TNO experts to make his dream reality. There is plenty of interest in his idea, because it would make life much easier for patients and it could significantly reduce healthcare costs. The required technologies already exist and can build on the 3D food printing technology that TNO was one of the first to develop many years ago. It can be used to modify the composition and functions of any drug for an individual patient. However, it is not yet economically feasible to supply tailor-made drugs and there are many technical, organisational, legal and financial hurdles to be overcome. Discussions are currently underway with the profession, physicians, hospitals, insurers, the government and the health inspectorate.
founder and CEO:
“A MAJOR CUSTOMER CONFIRMED THAT ONE OF OUR BIO-AROMATICS MAKES THEIR PRODUCT TWICE AS STABLE, WHICH POTENTIALLY MAKES A SOUND BUSINESS CASE FOR THEM.”
MAKING THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY MORE
“My dream is help build a chemical industry that produces sustainable products based on locally available bio-based raw materials. Our product is a first step in a specialty segment of this sector. It has opened up new avenues and puts us at the forefront of worldwide efforts to make the chemical industry more sustainable. Our solution replaces petroleum, which is used as a raw material in many common products, with bio-aromatics sourced from agricultural waste products. That’s a double dividend. Paints, lubricants and glues are all products that could not be produced from biomass… until today. This is the first major breakthrough I have seen during my career in chemistry. Relement has a unique opportunity to make the industry more sustainable based on a sound business case, which is really extraordinary.”
Aromatics, the chemical ingredients needed to make products like plastics, textiles and paints, can currently only be extracted from petroleum. But that’s about to change. TNO has successfully created special aromatics from agricultural waste streams and demonstrated that they work in the lab. The next phase will involve putting the method into practice. Major producers of paints and lubricants are interested in this breakthrough because they can use bio-aromatics to improve the quality, stability and lifetime of their products. Bio-based aromatics are pretty much the only option available for manufacturers of hard-to-recycle products who want make their products more sustainable. The start-up company Relement is focussing primarily on this category of special chemical products because of their high added value and because it believes bio-aromatics are an important step towards 100% fossil-free products.
co-founder and CEO of Relement:
“The camera can make a vital contribution to the prevention of blindness. The current screening method is cumbersome and costs the patient a lot of time, which is why many patients fail to get regular check-ups. Timely detection and treatment can minimise or even prevent eye damage. It has long been my passion to find applications for innovations, and especially in the field of electronics. In this case, I was able to bring together a Taiwanese microscope manufacturer and TNO to implement this innovation in the healthcare sector. After years of hurdles, we are now close to launching an application with real benefits for society, and that is really satisfying. TNO’s knowledge of optics was an indispensable part of the process and they are also helping to market the product. The rest is up to RetinaScope.”
“WE HAVE NOW ENTERED THE FINAL PHASE WHERE WE WILL DEMONSTRATE THAT THE CAMERA WORKS PERFECTLY AND IS CHEAP TO PRODUCE”
A collaboration between TNO optical experts and the start-up company RetinaScope is aiming to create an inexpensive and easy-to-use advanced portable camera for detecting eye problems, particularly in diabetic patients. Diabetes can cause blindness, which is why it is important to detect abnormalities at an early stage. However, health checks by specialists are time consuming and costly. Because this camera is easy to operate, it can be installed and used at a GP surgery, a pharmacy, an optician’s or even at home, making a visit to a hospital or clinic unnecessary. The images can be analysed remotely by a specialist. The camera is suitable for diagnosing common eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy (retinal damage), glaucoma (a form of cataract) and macular degeneration (leading to impaired/blurred vision).
OF EYE PROBLEMS IN DIABETICS
CEO of RetinaScope:
“OUR MISSION IS TO DEVELOP SOCIALLY RELEVANT, SCALABLE AND ACCESSIBLE AI SOFTWARE THAT GENERATES HIGH QUALITY CONTENT AND GETS THE MOST OUT OF VIDEO”
THAT FUNCTIONS AS BOTH FILM CREW
TNO colleague Paul van den Haak and I got off to a flying start: we grew from a start-up to a scale-up in record time thanks to a contract with the Swedish livestreaming company LiveArena. Our technology is a welcome addition to their service. But this is just the beginning; there’s a lot of demand for services that automate video productions. The software is getting better and better, among other things thanks to AI and deep learning algorithms.
After a long period under the umbrella of TNO, this is a welcome step towards entrepreneurship for both of us. The technology developed by TNO is always years ahead of the market, and it’s great to be able to present it now as a concrete product. We are not only focussed on large customers; amateur sports clubs can also use our software for game analysis and training purposes.”
The TNO startup company Studio Automated had only just launched when corona struck. The virus was both a curse and a blessing: sports matches were initially cancelled, but are now usually played without a live audience. This has created a growing demand for livestreaming at home from fans who want to watch their favourite teams in action on their smartphones or widescreen TVs. Studio Automated offers precisely such a service.
Studio Automated equipped two hundred ice hockey stadiums in Sweden and Norway with artificial intelligence (AI) software that functions as both film crew and director. The software automatically detects and tracks players and other activity in the rink, transmitting the images live and in high resolution to viewers at home. The same technology can be used to livestream concerts, events and company presentations. Studio Automated also uses this software in the security sector for early risk detection based on pattern recognition.
2017 - 2020
25 TNO SPIN-OFFS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
This is a special edition of ‘TNO spin-offs in the spotlight’, highlighting the 25th spin-off that was created in the last three and a half year. This is quite an achievement, as was also shown by a benchmark under European RTO’s. It showed that TNO scores very high in terms of number of spin-offs generated per 1,000 employees.
In 2017 TNO started the Tech Transfer programme to accelerate the transfer of TNO innovations to the market, thereby enabling these innovations to be of use to society and industry. The Tech Transfer programme has proven successful over the past three years: five companies were founded in 2017, eight in 2018, six in 2019, and already six in 2020.
We are proud that the market is embracing our innovations, both in the Netherlands and worldwide. This is all about state-of-the-art technology that can take society forward. Think of a diagnostic method for detecting certain diseases much faster than before or an innovative battery. These are just a few examples of how the Tech Transfer programme stimulates Dutch business and industry, creates new jobs, and contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals.
In this special edition we present these 25 young companies, all born out of applied research by TNO and most of them founded by passionate TNO employees. You can read more about the Tech Transfer programme and the spin-offs we are preparing on our website: tno.nl/techtransfer.
An important goal of TNO is turning innovative research into application. The Tech Transfer programme, launched in 2017, contributes to this goal by developing business cases and business plans. As a result, as many as twenty five new companies have been established within three and a half years. And there are many others in the pipeline.
“Getting technology to the market has always been in our DNA. We are now much more focused than ever on creating new companies” says Hans Boumans, director of Tech Transfer at TNO. “We actively involve investment funds, regional development companies, incubators and other parties who can play a useful role in this. And it’s nice to see how an innovation that starts out in one of our labs can lead to a successful company in a relatively short period of time.”
RAPID GROWTH THANKS TO MILLIONS IN INVESTMENTS
Some startups are growing very fast, such as Nearfield Instruments in Rotterdam. Just a few years ago, the technology developed by a few TNO employees served as a showcase in TNO’s Annual Report. Now, thanks to a multi-million euro investment from Samsung’s investment division and the Dutch investment fund Innovation Industries, the young company already employs fifty-one people. In addition, dozens of people are working at their partners on co-developing equipment for the semiconductor industry. This equipment will enable us to monitor the production processes of the latest generation of chips at the highest level.
SOLVING SOCIETAL ISSUES
“The great thing is that the startups and propositions that are still in an early phase all originate from TNO technology intended to solve societal issues in areas such as the energy transition or new communication technologies. We kill two birds with one stone this way. The new companies help society to move forward and create new jobs. In addition, they put our country on the map as a creator and supplier of innovative products. Our high-tech industry has to lead the way here, otherwise we will lose ground to Asian countries – with all of the consequences for the economy that this entails,” says Hans Boumans.
The Tech Transfer programme ensures that innovations that would otherwise find it difficult or impossible to make their way to the market are now able to attract investors. This is thanks to thorough preparation and an extensive network of potentially interested parties. “Every spin-off that we create and in which an investor invests is something to be proud of. It shows the impact that we at TNO have achieved and is the ultimate proof that we’ve created and developed something that the market has really been waiting for. We have wonderful, promising innovations in which business and industry can participate as a partner or an investor.”
DIRECTOR TNO TECH TRANSFER
HARM DE VRIES
HARM DE VRIES
MICHEL VAN BREMEN
First Dutch Innovations
“With TNO being a minority shareholder in First Dutch Innovations (which took over TNO Companies at the end of 2017), we naturally have a special relationship, although we operate completely independently. As a sparring partner on the Board, I mainly look at propositions from an entrepreneurial point of view. The great thing about Tech Transfer is that it stimulates the entrepreneurial spirit within TNO. Bringing technology to the market is always a challenge, but I see a stream of beautiful gems with great potential to grow into products that will help society move forward.”
TECH TRANSFER BOARD
RADBOUD VAN KLEEF
The Tech Transfer Board reviews new proposals and approves the process towards establishing new spin-off companies. The Board consists of TNO members Cis Marring (chair), Arnaud de Jong, Ton de Jong, Richard Roodenburg, Berry Vetjens and Hans Boumans, and external members as presented below.
MICHEL VAN BREMEN
First Dutch Innovations
“At InnovationQuarter with our investment fund UNIIQ we’re focused on bringing innovations to the market more quickly. By working together on the Tech Transfer Board of TNO, we strengthen one another. As an investor, you look at propositions from a different perspective. I bring in knowledge of the market and a relevant network, and together we look at which parties may be interested in investing in certain spin-offs. It’s great to see that Tech Transfer has produced new companies and a multitude of promising propositions in a relatively short period of time”
“As an external member of the Board, it’s your task to advise the Tech Transfer team on the business potential of various new technologies. TNO has a lot of expertise, but welcomes the perspectives of expert outsiders. These experts also look at the economic and social side of an innovation. We have already assessed a series of promising initiatives in all sorts of areas. Overall, my advice to TNO is: think multi-dimensionally, think bigger and think about what value you create for whom and why.”
RADBOUD VAN KLEEF
“The Technology Transfer team fulfils an important role in determining the potential impact of the intellectual property developed by TNO. Using a great deal of expertise. The team is also responsible for making the propositions investor-ready. With Innovation Industries, we have invested in two promising start-ups: Nearfield Instruments and SALDtech. Without the Technology Transfer team’s preparation of the investment propositions and the active support of the investment process, we would never have realised this the same way.”
NUMBER OF TECH
FACTS & FIGURES
2017 - 2020
TECH TRANSFER BOARD
TECH TRANSFER TEAM
FACTS & FIGURES
HELENE TUIT, TECH TRANSFER
ROLPH SEGERS, TECH TRANSFER
STEFAN VAN DER PLOEG, TECH TRANSFER
HANS BOUMANS, TECH TRANSFER
CORPORATE REAL ESTATE & FACILITIES
STEVEN VAN DIJK, CORPORATE LEGAL
EDDY ZWIER, TECH TRANSFER
TECH TRANSFER TEAM
VIC PAULISSEN, IP & CONTRACTIN
Recently added to the team (not in the picture):
Kelly Ackermans, Tech Transfer
Paul ten Hout, Control Unit Industry
Nathalie van der Put, Marketing & Communications
TNO TECH TRANSFER
Anna van Buerenplein 1
2595 DA Den Haag