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Posted: Mar 14, 2013

Carbon Nanomaterial Company Canatu Closes 12 M$ Funding Round

(Nanowerk News) Canatu Oy, a nanotechnology company commercializing carbon nanomaterial thin films for the electronics, optics and energy sectors, announced today a 12 million USD investment round led by Troika Ventures with participation from the existing investors Inventure Ltd., Infosto Ltd. and Tekes, the Finnish Technology Development Agency. Canatu's first products are flexible, robust and environmentally friendly transparent conductor films and touch sensors.
The investment round consisted of a USD 9 million equity investment and Tekes R&D grant in the amount of USD 3 milion. This was Canatu’s third investment round since 2007 and brings the total equity investment in the company to USD 15 million USD. Artyom Yukhin of Troika Ventures will join Sami Lampinen of Inventure, Ari Ahola of Infosto, Professor Yrjö Neuvo, Professor Esko Kauppinen and David Brown, the CTO of Canatu on the Board of Directors.
“We at Canatu are delighted to welcome Troika Ventures to our team and to have Inventure and Infosto reinvest. All are proven and well respected investors whose collective experience, energy will be invaluable in driving our business", said Risto Vuohelainen, CEO of Canatu. "Canatu is one of the world’s most promising nanotechnology companies providing disruptive technology to fast growing global touch sensor and display markets. We believe that Canatu will play a significant role in the future display industry", says Artyom Yukhin, the Managing Director of Troika Ventures.
Canatu plans to to use the funding to finalize its volume manufacturing line for conductive films and touch sensors in Helsinki, Finland. The company also plans to add significantly more resources to key business development activities. “This funding allows us to provide our customers the needed manufacturing capacity”, CEO Vuohelainen continues. “We can now take quick initiative to meet customer expectations and also to add local presence near our customers. And with the substantial financial resources of Troika behind us, we are will be ready for fast scale-up to larger volume production when customers need us to. This could already be the case in 2014.”
In operation since 2008, Canatu is a spin-off from the Aalto University. Canatu's business is the production and sales of a new class of versatile nanomaterial based films and components. Canatu has developed a novel form of carbon, namely NanoBud®, and a new way to directly produce high value components on any substrate from this material by Direct Dry Printing®. These technologies enable roll-to-roll manufacturing of 3D formed, bendable and flexible touch sensors for numerous applications. The manufacturing process is environmentally friendly, and the ultra pure deposition of carbon nanomaterials makes the films highly transparent. Canatu is currently developing its flexible thin film NanoBud® components and production processes to supply to display and touch customers worldwide.
Former Nokia CTO Yrjö Neuvo has been an early investor in Canatu and has served on the company's Board of Directors since 2008. Professor Neuvo considers companies like Canatu essential for the future of the consumer electronics industry. “I am very excited about the innovation opportunities Canatu's technologies offer to manufacturers of modern digital age devices where usability, design and innovative form factors play a crucially important role”, says Professor Neuvo .
Touch sensor Market
In recent years touch user interface has been one of fastest trends to penetrate the consumer electronics industry. Touch screens became popular after Apple launched its first iPhone in June 2007. Today, most mobile devices from the world's major manufacturers utilize touch screens. MS Windows 8 driven laptops and all-in-1 devices are bringing touch screens to even larger sizes and desktop use. The latest emerging industry trend is wearable devices with touch.
Touch screen market trends, including form factor expansion, advances in technology, and shifts in supply and demand, are playing an ever bigger role in the performance of companies involved in this space. Global trends surrounding touch screen technology are beginning to force brand names to adapt touch in a wider range of products, pushing them to differentiate themselves with new form and functionality in the smart device segment. At the same time, rising touch screen demand is providing a huge opportunity for manufacturers of touch screens and components. New form factors, such as flexible and curved surfaces, require new kinds of touch sensors at competive pricing. Canatu’s demonstrated innovations based on Carbon NanoBud® technologies enable both short term product differentiation incorporating these new form factors and long term reduction in production costs.
Carbon Nanobud®
Carbon NanoBud® is a hybrid of Carbon Nanotube and fullerenes. The hybridization is achieved directly in the material synthesis process and the resulting material combines the best features of both fullerenes and nanotubes. Canatu's first products focus on taking advantage of the low reflectivity, high conductivity, chemical stability and mechanical flexibility of NanoBud® deposits to make the world's highest performance carbon based transparent conductive films for transparent conductors in touch displays and other applications.
Carbon NanoBud® material is produced by Canatu's unique patented synthesis method, which produces clean, unbundled, high crystallinity materials directly in the gas phase, and Canatu's efficient Direct Dry Printing® method, which allows roll-to-roll deposition on any substrate at room temperature and pressure. The combination of these methods results in a simple, scalable and low cost component manufacturing process.
Canatu has patents and patents pending covering: NanoBuds® and their applications in, for instance, displays, electronics, optics, energy storage, Carbon Nanotube (CNT) and NanoBud® production methods, CNT and NanoBud® separation methods, methods for characterizing nanomaterials, CNT and NanoBud® thin film and component production methods and a wide array of NanoBud® based devices including novel touch technologies. Consequently, Canatu has important IP in the entire value chain from synthesis to products.
Source: Canatu (press release)
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