WP3 - Technology Transfer
Work package leader: Paul de Wit (TUDelft / EKL)
 
Bridging the “Valley of Death”
The Multi Annual Strategic Plan for the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (MASP) 2014 states as its prime strategy feature: “ECSEL is one of the implementation instruments of the European Horizon 2020 programme, an innovation driven programme, with a clear intent to bring innovations to the market by contributing towards building the bridge across the valley of death separating scientific discovery from its economic success” [MASP2014 p.10]. The gap in the innovation chain for micro-fabricated medical devices, which is to be bridged in InForMed, is completely in line with the observation by the High-Level Expert Group (HLG), which endorsed the “Valley-of-Death” concept to visualize the gap between innovative research and successful introduction into this highly profitable market. What is clearly needed, as the MASP 2014 phrases it, are “Pilot lines and test bed facilities [that] focus on R&D&I actions requiring high levels of investments in bringing innovations to the market.” The goal of the InForMed project is to establish such a pilot line chain, embedded in an R&D environment, targeting medical devices, and linked to a high-volume back-end foundry covering all TRLs from 1 to 8.
The central point in this chain is constituted by the Philips thin-film and assembly facilities, which will be restructured towards a small/medium scale production facility, specialized in polymer processing and qualified for medical devices.  At the beginning of the chain a solid link with the academic research (viz. Delft Institute of Microsystems and Nanoelectronics (DIMES), Tyndall, University of Zaragoza) will be forged to guarantee an influx of new product concepts and an optimal alignment between academic research and industrial production. At the end of the chain we will connect to IPDiA as a foundry for high-volume production.
A particular feature of the infrastructure as envisaged in the InForMed project is the integration of the technology transfer step from “technology demonstration in the lab” (TRL4) to “technology demonstration in a relevant (i.e. production-like) environment” (TRL 5) within the pilot line. This transfer step usually involves two different organizations (e.g. a university lab and a (pilot) production facility), which often implies that the receiving party has to do a lot of the work all over again, resulting in a delay of the product development process. The “integrated pilot line” concept as proposed in InForMed enables to start the introduction of manufacturability and reliability requirements already at the research stage, thereby speeding up, rather than slowing down the development cycle. In a similar way the transfer of the technology to the foundry is approached. This is depicted in the diagram below.
 
 
image6The Integrated pilot line concept speeds up innovation by avoiding unnecessary delays caused by technology transfers.
 
The forging of the links with research and high volume production is the objective of this work package. A number of innovative medical micro-fabricated devices, all on their way to become a real product, have been selected to demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of the integrated pilot line. They will be used to identify and resolve possible issues going from one link in the chain to the other. Finally, they will demonstrate the efficacy of the complete infrastructure. The demonstrator projects will be described in work package 4 & 5.
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