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Business and Innovation News

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

New spin-off companies created with the support of the R+D+I Energy for Society Network

by Virginia Greco

The R+D+I Energy for Society Network (XRE4S) provides consultancy and mentoring in industrial strategy, property protection, and market positioning to researchers who are interested in transferring their technologies to an existing company or founding a new one. Five spin-offs have been recently created with the support of XRE4S and one more (from the ICN2) may be established soon.

Five technologies tackling energy challenges developed by research groups involved with the R+D+I Energy for Society Network (XRE4S) had the possibility to reach the market thanks to the recent setting up of dedicated spin-offs. This important achievement is the result of the entrepreneurial spirit of the researchers and the support of initiatives such as the Network XRE4S, The Collider and others, which put scientists in contact with companies and offered specific market studies in the energy sector.

These five startup companies –Bamboo Energy (Catalonia Institute for Energy Research, IREC), Jolt (Catalan Institute for Chemical Research, ICIQ), eRoots (Polytechnic University of Catalonia, UPC), UniScool (University of Lleida, UdL) and ECOMEMB (University of Girona)— aim to contribute to the energy transition by providing solutions to current problems in hydrogen production, integration of renewable energy into the grid, electricity market management, thermal efficiency of electronic devices and regeneration of membranes.

In addition to these five, there are currently more technologies that could give rise to new spin-offs. One of them, called LightNET, has been developed by the ICN2 Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices Group and proposes an innovative negative emission technology that uses light to enhance direct air capture of CO2 and to mineralize it onto solid surfaces. The Network has offered to the developers of this technology a mentoring service with experts in the sector, who have provided them with market advice. In addition, it helped them with the strategy and industrial property protection. The option of constituting themselves as a spinoff is being evaluated by the research group together with the ICN2 Business & Innovation Area and the XRE4S.

Behind the creation of all these companies are years of research carried out by scientists from various Catalan Institutes, who have found support in initiatives such as XRE4S, The Collider, and other entrepreneurship programmes aiming at putting researchers in contact with companies or at establishing new ones. In total, the XRE4S programmes –IP Services & Transfer, L2M, Technology Business Development and Mentorship— have brought to the market more than 50 technologies from 41 research groups belonging to 14 Catalan universities and research centres. These initiatives are intended to respond to market demands in the field of energy; mainly: digitalisation, energy efficiency, hydrogen generation, circular economy.

XRE4S is a project co-financed by the European Regional Development Funds of the European Union in the framework of the Catalonia ERDF OP 2014-2020 and the support of the Secretariat for Universities and Research of the Department of Business and Knowledge of the Generalitat de Catalunya. Currently, the Network is looking for further public fundings. Other researchers active in the field of renewable energy are taking part in the Network, including ICN2 group leaders Prof. Pedro Gómez Romero (Novel Energy-Oriented Materials) and Prof. Monica Lira-Cantú (Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy), while more are interested in joining it, such as Prof. Jordi Arbiol (Advanced Electron Nanoscopy), Prof. Victor Puntes (Inorganic Nanoparticles), Dr Amador Perez (Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices), Prof. Dani Ruiz and Dr Claudio Roscini (Nanostructured Functional Materials).