JumpStart Inc., Northeast Ohio’s non-profit venture development organization, announced an investment commitment of $400,000 in FLX Micro, Inc. (“FLX”), a manufacturer of silicon carbide-based microsensors designed to work in harsh environments.
FLX was initially founded in 2000 as FiberLead, a spin-out of Case Western Reserve University, to develop and manufacturer micro-electrical mechanical system (“MEMS”) based optical fiber arrays for the telecommunications industry. FiberLead also developed both proprietary deposition techniques for silicon carbide (SiC) thin films and the associated microfabrication technologies. This work established the company as a world leader in creating SiC microstructures. After the demand for telecommunications decreased, the company began evaluating alternative markets. The management team concluded that developing pressure sensors for harsh environments would make the best use of their core SiC MEMS technology. The company was restructured in 2004 (as FLX) with this new focus.
“We are pleased to welcome new investors JumpStart and Early Stage Partners, two premier venture funds supporting early stage companies in Northeast Ohio, along with debt financing from Cuyahoga County’s New Product Development and Entrepreneurship Program, to FLX,” said Gary R. Johnson, President and CEO. Johnson continued, “We also are pleased to have the ongoing support of several institutional investors including the Ohio Innovation Fund, Reservoir Venture Partners, X Gen, and The Entrepreneurs Fund, along with several individual investors. With this latest round of financing FLX is well positioned to complete the integration of its unique silicon carbide devices into sensor systems and to advance the early commercialization initiatives now underway with key users.”
The initial target markets for FLX are diesel engines and industrial process monitoring, to be followed by turbine engines and then gasoline engines. FLX sensors are expected to facilitate more precise control of combustion. The sensor will provide instantaneous feedback to engine control systems by directly sensing the combustion process. Ultimately, the result should be improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
“FLX is filling an ever-growing market demand for technologies that hold the promise of greater fuel efficiencies,” said JumpStart CEO, Ray Leach. “We are proud to add another company to our mix of Instruments, Controls and Electronics (ICE) companies,” Leach concluded.
With this investment, FLX Micro becomes JumpStart’s 17th portfolio company.
About FLX Micro
FLX Micro (www.flxmicro.com) manufactures silicon carbide-based pressure sensors designed to work in harsh (i.e. corrosive and/or very high temperature) environments. FLX sensors are expected to enable more precise engine control. The initial target markets for FLX are diesel engines and industrial process monitoring, to be followed by turbine engines and then gasoline engines. The sensor is made from a unique silicon carbide (SiC) material, which allows it to be placed directly inside the engine cylinder. The sensors will provide instantaneous feedback to engine control systems by directly sensing the combustion process. The result is expected to be improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
About JumpStart Inc.
JumpStart accelerates the growth of early-stage businesses and ideas into venture-ready companies by delivering vital, focused resources to entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio. JumpStart identifies and invests in early-stage companies that have strong potential in the marketplace, solid prospects for high growth, and are likely to qualify for later-stage funding. Beyond investing, the JumpStart team provides a continuum of business development services to its client companies to help ensure their success.