MicroGen Systems Inc. has inked a deal with a German firm to manufacture the Henrietta firm’s products, which are aimed at extending rechargeable battery life or eliminating the need for batteries altogether.
The deal has led to the need for more local workers at MicroGen, its leader said.
The company has chosen X-FAB Semiconductor Foundries AG to produce the first micro-electro-mechanical systems-based energy harvester. X-FAB is a multinational semiconductor and MEMS contract manufacturer.
The companies expect production to begin in the first half of 2013. Financial details were not disclosed.
Robert Andosca, MicroGen’s founder, chairman, CEO and chief technology officer, said X-FAB was chosen because of its manufacturing and materials experience in the MEMS fabrication business.
MicroGen’s device, coupled with its technological capabilities, aligned with X-FAB, said X-FAB CEO Rudi De Winter.
MicroGen is developing and bringing to market a suite of products based on its proprietary piezoelectric vibrational energy harvester technology that creates energy through vibration to power autonomous and wireless sensors.
The device, which is roughly the size of a computer chip, serves as a charger for small, high-performance batteries, allowing electronic devices to be powered for years without battery replacement, MicroGen said.
The technology can be used in a variety of applications, company leaders said, including residential, consumer, commercial, industrial and military uses. For example, sensors are in products such as clothes dryers and car tires.
“Sensors are in everything,” Andosca said.
The MicroGen system can help extend the life of such products, reducing the need for numerous battery changes, he said. The company also is focused on making a product that is more environmentally friendly than what is available today.
“It’s about making a smarter planet,” he said.
A spinout of the University of Vermont, MicroGen has an office in the Lennox Tech Enterprise Center and at the Cornell Nanoscale Science and Technology Facility in Ithaca.
In anticipation of the ramp-up, MicroGen is looking to double its local workforce. The business has five full-time staff based in the Rochester area and two part-time staff.
MicroGen has received praise, and financial support, for its systems. It most recently won $200,000 in the New York Creative Core Emerging Business Competition.
In May, MicroGen was awarded $1.2 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to commercialize its technology. The company is matching that investment with already acquired outside investment—in a round still under way—and investment from founders and management.
The award followed a $300,000 grant from NYSERDA in 2009.
The firm recently was added to the EE Times Silicon 60, its list of 60 notable emerging startups worldwide. The list is selected by editors based on factors including technology, intended market, company maturity, financial position, investment profile and executive leadership.
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