PITTSBURGH, December 10, 2018 – nanoGriptech, the first commercial manufacturer of gecko-inspired micro-structured dry adhesives and surfaces for a wide range of applications in cleanrooms, manufacturing and medical environments, and sports equipment, apparel and upholstery design, has received a $1.7 million investment to support broader commercialization activities. The financing is being provided by Industrial Technology Investment Corporation (ITIC), the venture capital arm of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), a Taipei, Taiwan-based R&D consortium. ITRI has more than 6,000 technical experts, 24,000 alumni experts and 25,000 patents in robotics, advanced materials, biotech and more.
“ITIC brings a depth of technical expertise that few investment firms can rival,” says Nicholas Kuhn, CEO of nanoGriptech.
nanoGriptech was incorporated in 2012 by Metin Sitti while he was a professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU’s) Department of Mechanical Engineering and in the school’s Robotics Institute. Dr. Sitti earned his undergraduate degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Bogazici University in Turkey, and obtained his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Tokyo. Following post-doctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley, he joined CMU in 2002, where he pioneered the design and manufacturing of synthetic gecko foot-hairs and patented the technology which formed the basis of his spin-off, nanoGriptech. Dr. Sitti has won numerous awards throughout his career.
“Since the company was launched as a spin out of CMU, it has pursued a path to revolutionize the field of bio-inspired adhesive technology,” adds Mr. Kuhn. “We are particularly grateful to Metin Sitti and his team for their hard work in bringing this technology to life. We also appreciate the tireless efforts of our technical team led by Dr. Paul Glass, our vice president of engineering.”
The company has received Small Business Innovation research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Defense, along with funding from Innovation Works, Breakout Labs, Idea Foundry, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, PA NanoMaterials Commercialization Center and several private investors.
The ITIC Advantage
ITIC’s investment will bring more than capital to nanoGriptech. The organization’s technical resources and business expertise will support the growth of nanoGriptech’s customer base across Asia. Additionally, nanoGriptech’s board of directors will be strengthened by Hans Tai, president of ITIC. Mr. Tai has had a successful career as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley and at ITIC, with several notable exits in the U.S., including Netscreen (acquired by Juniper Networks for $4 billion in 2004), Abovenet, Capella Microsystems (a U.S.-based company that went public in Taiwan), PayPal, Mobilink, Focus.com, Provilla, Chirp and Protego.
“We are very excited about the opportunities with nanoGriptech, whose products we see as a strategic fit with many of our limited partners to push the boundaries of the adhesives industry,” says Mr. Tai.
Cinnie Huang, a CMU alumna who is an investment manager for ITIC, will serve as a board observer.
Carnegie Mellon’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship assisted ITIC with its attempts to procure funding for CMU start-ups. nanoGriptech is the first CMU spin out to receive an investment from ITIC.
“We are delighted to work with ITIC, Hans and Cinnie to help identify CMU-related companies that fit ITIC’s investment thesis,” says David Mawhinney, executive director of the Swartz Center. “This development is a win-win for the Center and ITIC as we collaborate to build valuable companies.”
About nanoGriptech, Inc.
nanoGriptech, Inc. is a privately-held Pittsburgh-based developer and manufacturer of Setex,™ a gecko-inspired micro-fiber polymer dry adhesive product used in the fabrication of tapes, fasteners and surface treatments that are repeatable, paper-thin, conformal, moldable and residue-free. Setex may be used in a broad range of consumer and industrial products and applications, including apparel, sporting goods, robotics components, semiconductors, glass handling, automotive upholstery, mounting and packaging. The company was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University and is based in Pittsburgh.
Industrial Technology Investment Corporation (ITIC) is the venture capital arm of the Taipei, Taiwan-based Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). Since the R&D consortium was created in 1979, ITIC has invested more than $4 billion across virtually all stages of commercial development in a variety of business sectors worldwide. Companies nurtured by ITIC have gone on to define entire industries, and have a combined market cap of more than $200 billion.
About the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship
The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship works with its partners to serve CMU’s departments, colleges, centers and campuses to accelerate bringing research innovations and promising ideas to the global marketplace and helping all entrepreneurial students, faculty, staff and alumni tap into the “innovation ecosystem.” The Swartz Center’s mission is to define CMU as the destination of choice for individuals interested in entrepreneurship, while fostering an inside-out approach to creating winning commercial ventures from cutting-edge research and ingenious ideas for the benefit of society. The Center also focuses on developing an extensive, vibrant network of alumni entrepreneurs.
This news release may contain forward-looking statements, which, if not based on historical facts, involve current assumptions and forecasts as well as risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from the results or events stated in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, certain events not within the Company’s control. Events that could cause results to differ include failure to meet ongoing developmental and manufacturing timelines, changing GMP requirements, the need for additional capital requirements, risks associated with regulatory approval processes, adverse changes to reimbursement for the Company’s products/services, and delays with respect to market acceptance of new products/services and technologies. Other risks may be detailed from time to time, but the Company does not attempt to revise or update its forward-looking statements even if future experience or changes make it evident that any projected events or results expressed or implied therein will not be realized.