Challenge: Product development and research commercialization
Solution: Partnership for prototyping, commercialization and export
If you're a fan of Harry Potter you'll be well aware of the cloak of invisibility. Did you know that the cloak is actually based on real science? This is accomplished by manipulating the paths traversed by light through a novel optical material.
Metamaterial Technologies Inc. (MTI) is a smart materials and photonics company specializing in metamaterial research, nanofabrication and computational electromagnetics that is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The company also has offices in London, England, and Pleasanton, California.
MTI's pioneering technology platform allows for the manipulation of light for a variety of outcomes. MTI's in-house capabilities make it possible to create products capable of blocking, absorbing or enhancing light.
One of MTI's latest technologies is a real game changer for the aviation industry. Thanks to a partnership with government, the company was able to take on the technology risk which helped develop the prototype, prove the technology and eventually win a contract with Airbus.
George Palikaras is the CEO and Founder of MTI. In 2004, the aviation industry unveiled a problem with lasers having negative impact on pilots flying in the sky. Palikaras and his team wrote a white paper outlining their suggested – yet untested – solution. The idea for the Lamda Guard was born. There was only one problem. Building a prototype to prove the solution hypothesis was not something the small start-up company could address.
"Without the partnership with government and the ability to minimize some of that development risk, we would not have been able to develop the prototype and commercialize it,” says Palikaras. “That investment in our idea has allowed the company to grow from five to 50 people and has led to several new contracts within the aerospace sector."
Throughout the development of the prototype, MTI developed 65 patents which also led to other commercialization opportunities.
Palikaras says start-up businesses should first find support to validate the idea and work towards building the right team.
"If you're a start-up with an idea that solves a problem, you need to take the risk, says Palikaras. Find the right partners, look for ways to reduce risk, but keep working towards developing that research into a marketable product."
Through market development, employee recruitment assistance and ongoing technology development support, MTI has taken research ideas and commercialized them to become a world leader in continued metamaterial innovation.
Accessing financial capital is something the Government of Canada recognizes as critical to building, growing and scaling a business. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government is helping MTI continue its work in metamaterial research, nanofabrication, and computational electromagnetics. An investment of $3 million is helping MTI further its focus on its metaAIR product, which is a film added to the cockpit windscreen in order to reflect harmful laser light used in aircraft attacks. The project also includes research and development around identifying the most suitable technology for the fabrication of the filters, developing large-scale filter samples and setting up a manufacturing product line in Halifax.
Metamaterial Technologies Inc. is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1- 800-561-7862 or go to canada.ca/acoa.