Mol, 23 October 2015: VITO is becoming more active in the economic valorisation of its sustainability research and stimulates the spin-off creation of marketable technologies. The new Laser Cladding Venture (LCV) is one of these creations, launched on 7 October. The company specialises in laser cladding, a technology that uses a laser to fuse metal powders on objects, a so-called workpiece. This way, you can apply high-quality coatings that ensure that mechanic parts last much longer and perform 3D printing in a unique way. Besides CEO Jan Lambrecht and VITO, 2 investors joined as shareholders: LRM and AAAfund have invested 850 kEUR in the start-up. Initially, LCV will continue working from the VITO lab in Mol, with the intention of relocating to Limburg after one year.
LCV as a service company
Besides applying coatings, the LCV experts can also apply multiple layers and perform 3D printing. The special feature of this 3D printing technique is that you can build upon an existing piece and make products or perform repairs. For the simple form you use conventional production techniques and for the complex parts more expensive 3D laser cladding materials.
Jan Lambrecht, CEO at LCV, explains: “An example of the applications is the appliance of a wear-resistant coating on extruder screws for breeders. The screws that we have treated, last six times longer than new screws. Also in the dredging sector we have already found great applications.”
VITO source of disruptive business ideas
It is VITO’s role to use its technological knowledge to stimulate sustainable development and to strengthen the economic and social framework in Flanders. Researchers at VITO have a lot of ideas, but since a year or two, a significant swift to the “breeding” aspect of these ideas took place.
“We are putting more focus on lifting these great ideas to a higher business level. This by responding to all aspects of the process “from idea to start-up” and to keep in mind the scalability of the idea in all stages of the process”, says Walter Eevers, Director Valorisation and Strategic Partnerships. At VITO, the economic impact, eg. employment, is of greater importance than the number of spin-offs.
Moreover, this cycle runs slower in cleantech than IT. “An app is quickly developed and finds its way to the market a lot faster”, says Eevers, “A disruptive technology in our sector takes more time both in research and in development and calls for more investments. In the last 2 years, VITO has learned to explore the possible business opportunities at an early stage of the research and to take these into account during the implementation of the research.”
Another milestone in the valorisation strategy is sharing our existing knowledge with the Flemish industry via the knowledge base Brilliant, see brilliant.vito.be.
Now that internal ideas are increasingly finding their way to the VITO breeding ground for disruptive ideas, it is time to include ideas from outside. “In 2016 we want to give companies a say in the VITO research and work with them to create new businesses. We also want to expand our current ecosystem, with among other things, an Opportunity Recognition Workshop, together with TNO, our Dutch colleague, and UAntwerp. This is how we look at foreign investors for disruptive ideas with a global potential these days. And we have a good partnership with Innotek, that can serve as an incubator for the first years of our spin-offs.”
Building upon years of research
With 17 years of experience in state-of-the-art laser technology, VITO is streets ahead. Since 2010, VITO has been focusing on laser cladding and especially ‘additive manufacturing’ or 3D printing. As the laser cladding technology is now economically viable, VITO decided to launch a spin-off, with input from the VITO patents and its machine park. The Venture Development Team at VITO has brought together the right people and financial profiles and refined the business plan, which made the launch of the business reality. This way, the LCV has a strong starting position to make laser cladding a success story in Flanders and beyond.
Stijn Bijnens, CEO at LRM: “Laser cladding is a smart and innovative repair technique. Here at LRM, we focus largely on this so-called ‘smart manufacturing industry’. A healthy and competitive manufacturing industry forms the engine for the local economy. Today, LRM has about ten companies in this domain which are in a state of transformation. On the one hand they themselves develop competitive and innovative techniques to ensure their future, and on the other hand they are preparing themselves for further globalisation and internationalisation of the market. With LCV, we are now sending a company to Limburg that is specialising in this smart production.”
Marc Mommaerts, Fund Manager at AAAFund, adds: “When LCV introduced its story to us via the BAN Flanders network, we immediately saw a number of unique aspects. Besides applying wear-resistant layers and the 3D printing applications, the LCV can also offer an alternative for the very environmentally harmful hard chrome plating. The combination of many years of experience within VITO and a motivated team guarantees a promising future.”
CEO Laser Cladding Venture
Tel. +32 14 33 55 21
Director Valorisation and Strategic Partnerships
Tel. +32 14 33 55 17
About LRM, oxygen for growth (www.lrm.be)
LRM is an investment company that develops and stimulates economic growth in Limburg. We provide a solid foundation, allowing companies and projects, which create jobs in Limburg, to grow. Our financial means and economic expertise, together with Limburg’s key assets, create a unique breeding ground.
About Ark Angels Activator Fund (www.aaafund.be)
The Ark Angels Activator Fund NV is an accredited ARKIV under the Arkimedes scheme of the Flemish investment company PMV. The shareholdership of the fund in this ‘privak’ consists of the Arkimedes-Fund II, ING Belgium and 57 business angels, members of BAN Vlaanderen. The fund accounts for EUR 14.8 million and intends to take stakes in about 20 Flemish SMEs in a start-up, growth or transfer phase together with business angels or other co-investors.
About BAN Vlaanderen (www.ban.be)
BAN Vlaanderen vzw is the platform par excellence for capital-seeking entrepreneurs and private investors to meet to launch a process for these entrepreneurs through capital contribution and transfer of knowledge that will lead to success for their business and the further development of our knowledge economy. Through a coordinator in each of the seven local antennas both entrepreneurs and investors can enter the network. Investment projects will discreetly be presented through anonymous project information sheets and presentations at matching events. BAN Vlaanderen has also launched the portal www.angel4me.be to efficiently establish contacts between capital-seeking companies and investors. BAN Vlaanderen currently has 225 members including some VC funds and presents more than 100 selected projects each year. This results in 20 to 30 actual investments per year.