Startup allows faster, cheaper 3D printing of chip testing devices in hopes of speeding up the process of discovering new technologies
Herndon, VA, May 21, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced that the Virginia Founders Fund has invested in Roanoke, Va.-based Skyphos Industries, an innovator in the three-dimensional printer (3DP) and biotech spaces. Skyphos developed a new micro-3D printing process that enables researchers to by-pass several months of development and hundreds of thousands of dollars when bringing new medical tests to market. Also known as Lab on a Chip (LOAC), these tests are the future of personalized and low cost medicine. Skyphos plans to use this investment from CIT GAP Funds to support the development of their second generation 3D printers, as well as the creation of new high-tech roles in advanced manufacturing, and computer programming jobs to the New River and Roanoke Valleys.
LOAC devices, about the size of a credit card, are an interest to medicine and science because of their rapid results, lower costs for reagents and ease of implementation. They are designed to allow a small sample to enter, mix, interact within tiny passages in the chip, and produce actionable data in real time for a variety of ailments. From diabetes to pregnancy testing and newer instant-read strep tests, microfluidics and LOAC are more common than many people realize. Until Skyphos, the only available manufacturing processes for LOAC devices took months to go from an idea to a mold – which is then used to create each device one at a time by hand, taking hours. To get to market, most devices are refined three to five times before clinical trials which slows down prototyping, and ultimately the discovery or implementation of new discoveries.
“Science doesn’t have an idea problem; it hit a hard-limit in the manufacturing process. Semi-conductor to molds and stamping were initially needed, but this has slowed down innovation over the last 5-10 years and in some cases, has kept innovations from market,” said Elliot McAllister, CEO and CTO of Skyphos. “It’s time to move beyond the slow, expensive, inflexible processes of clean-rooms, wafers and molds. Skyphos eliminates close to 99 percent of the traditional development cycle. We are grateful and honored for the support of CIT GAP Funds, whose contributions will allow us to capitalize on our first-mover in this area and continue to innovate for our customers.”
Skyphos’ 3D printer system is capable of fabricating devices out of a specialized clear bio-compatible polymer down to the microscopic details to help the industry move away from mold-based manufacturing. With their service, Skyphos allows production of these complex chips in minutes, and allows researchers to side-step delays and test ideas the week of inspiration. Skyphos has launched their rapid-prototyping service and plans to follow in 12-18 months with the release of their printer and custom materials.
“We are very impressed with Elliot’s team at Skyphos for their detailed research and experimentation that led them to fill a market need for updated 3D printing for microfluidics,” said Jennifer O’Daniel, Investment Director at CIT GAP Funds. “The ability to fast-track a potentially game changing idea into a prototype with limited delays is going to have a tremendous impact on both 3D printing and medical device industries, and we look forward to being part of Skyphos’ disruptive journey.”
Skyphos works for all drawing platforms and is the only system developed specifically for the application. They are the first commercial 3D printers with resolutions down to five micrometers and have plans to push to one micron by the end of the year. Labs and researchers capable of 3D printing will benefit from this technology by enabling faster iterations as well as pushing the boundaries of microfluidic chip technology, in which they don’t need a clean room or other high cost settings to conduct their research and development of the chips.
For more information about CIT or the Virginia Founders Fund, please visit https://www.cit.org/.
About Skyphos Technologies
Skyphos specializes in micro-SLA (uSLA) 3D printer services for microfluidics. It allows researchers to print chips on demand, outside of a cleanroom, by-passing months of development time and hundreds of thousands of dollars per device. Skyphos works with all drawing platforms and is the only 3D printer developed specifically for microfluidics. For more information, please visit: https://www.skyphos.tech/about
About the Virginia Founders Fund
Launched in 2018, the Virginia Founders Fund (VFF) is focused on providing venture capital for Virginia’s traditionally underrepresented entrepreneurs. Proceeds from the Center for Innovative Technology’s (CIT) successful GAP Funds investment program are being reinvested into the Virginia economy through the VFF, which specifically supports female, minority or veteran founders, or other entrepreneurs located in regions outside of Northern Virginia who are emerging into sectors such as software, hardware, life science, cleantech, and technology-enabled services. The VFF works with regional startup initiatives, early-stage funds, and accelerator programs across the Commonwealth to identify strategic opportunities for investment and potential co-investment to leverage additional capital. For more information, please visit https://www.cit.org/virginiafoundersfund/.
About CIT GAP Funds
CIT GAP Funds makes seed-stage equity investments in Virginia-based technology, clean tech and life science companies with a high potential for achieving rapid growth and generating significant economic return for entrepreneurs, co-investors and the Commonwealth of Virginia. CIT GAP Funds’ investments are overseen by the CIT GAP Funds Investment Advisory Board (IAB). This independent, third-party panel consists of leading regional entrepreneurs, angel and strategic investors, and venture capital firms such as New Enterprise Associates, Grotech Ventures, Valhalla Partners, Harbert Venture Partners HIG Ventures, Edison Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Intersouth Partners, SJF Ventures, Carilion Health Systems, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, and Alpha Natural Resources. For more information, please visit www.citgapfunds.org.
Center for Innovative Technologies