The Siemens Technology Accelerator (STA) builds start-up companies based on Siemens technologies. STA identifies promising technologies with valuable applications in attractive markets, recruits the start-up’s core team, supports in building the business plan, connects the team to its industry and financing network, and orchestrates the technology carve-out with legal and financial terms suitable for the acquisition of venture capital. In addition to bringing financial return to Siemens, this offers attractive investment opportunities for venture capital funds and institutional and private investors.
STA commercializes innovative Siemens technologies that have been developed by the company’s global research and development network and which fulfil STA’s criteria to enter its company building program. Such criteria are the potential for high business value, manageable technology and market risk, and a core team to believe in. Obviously a key focus in this activity is to protect the technology and the related business to the best possible extent using all means of intellectual property rights.
Single point of contact
STA simplifies the commercialization process as much as possible for all sides, internal and external team members as well as investors, by serving as their single point of contact within Siemens. STA addresses all technological, legal and financial areas of the start-up formation process, reducing the complexities that come with carving out a technology from a large, multinational company. STA also ensures the smooth transfer of the technology and operational know-how to the start-up.
Co-investing with STA
STA provides the start-up companies it founds with both know-how and early stage financing to help accelerate its initial development. STA continues to drive both the value and viability of the start-ups by becoming a shareholder, and continuing to co-invest in future fundraising rounds. Since the newly created businesses are outside of Siemens core business, STA looks to co-finance its start-ups with external funding sources, including venture capital funds, private investors and corporate and strategic investors.
STA’s track record of success in founding venture capital financed start-ups ensures that STA start-ups have been established on a sound foundation and are ready for investment. STA has extensive experience recruiting complete, expert management teams with entrepreneurial experience for start-ups. In some cases, experienced Siemens staff members that have been involved in the development of the technology at Siemens leave the company and join the start-up.
Access to Siemens’ Network
Most start-ups face a significant challenge in finding and acquiring new customers. STA-founded start-ups have access to the Siemens’ global network, and its large existing customer base. STA identifies potential lead customers, and works closely with them throughout the commercialization process. Often, STA start-ups land development or manufacturing partnerships with Siemens, further increasing their investment value.
Technology: Bio Sensors
Siemens Corporate Technology has developed a patented piezo-electric bio-sensor based on a unique sputtering thin film technology. The sensor allows implementation of hand-held devices for parallel screening of biological samples for different target molecules. The sensor can be easily customized to support a variety of point-of need applications like drugs-of-abuse, point-of-care or food-safety testing.
External commercialization drivers: Why external?
Siemens AG had previously spun off its component businesses, divesting its semiconductor business to Infineon and its passive electrical components businesses to EPCOS, among others. As a result, there wasn’t a strategic fit for the technology within Siemens businesses any longer.
An analysis of markets and potential applications showed that the sensor can serve as a highly scalable bio-sensing platform. It was therefore decided to create a startup called “BioMensio” to maximize the value of the technology. BioMensio targets to develop a portable device based on the existing sensor component and to prove that high-volume bio-screening applications can be implemented on such device.
Start-ups foundation and financing with venture capital:
BioMensio took up operations in June 2016 in Tampere, Finland. There were mainly three reasons to place the start-up in Finland:
- The readout electronics for the bio-sensor had been developed by VTT Research Center of Finland and VTT’s venture arm, VTT Ventures, agreed to co-finance the startup.
- A group of Finnish angle investors also agreed to co-finance the startup. The lead investor from this group already had experience in bio-sensing startups.
- TEKES (now Business Finland), the Finnish funding agency for technology startups, agreed to provide substantial financial support for the startup.
In total, the group of investors and TEKES raised 2.5 Mio. EUR for the seed round of BioMensio.
Current business status:
- BioMensio has implemented a mobile bio-screening device based on an improved piezo-electric bio-sensor.
- BioMensio is in the process of developing two commercial bio-screening applications (so-called “BioApps”) for its hand-held device. One of the applications has already been tested by an industry partner.
- BioMensio has established contacts to several industrial partners to develop BioApps which had not even been known at the start of the company.
- BioMensio is continuously developing its business model, e.g. by offering data aggregation and mining capabilities based on wirelessly transmitted bio-screening results from its on-site testing devices.
- While already sufficient to support a multitude of BioApps, BioMensio is further improving the performance of its platform sensor technology, e.g. by incorporating deep learning algorithms for sensor data interpretation.