Skoltech and ChemCode, a Latvian startup focused on tracing technology for raw materials and products, have signed a license contract for an ammonium saltpeter labeling method invented at the university.
The method, patented by Professor Albert Nasibulin and Dr Anastasia Goldt from the Laboratory of Nanomaterials of the Skoltech Center for Photonics and Quantum Materials, allows labeling and tracking industrial-grade ammonium nitrate, NH4NO3. It requires no changes to the core production process as metal-based 'tags' are added to granules for detection by electron microscopy.
The agreement allows ChemCode to use the invention outside Russia and, among other things, conduct its own research to commercialize it. The company is going to use the license to mark fertilizers based on ammonium nitrates and for hidden tagging of different products.
"Skoltech will participate in research and development since we possess critical technology for designing and synthesizing the taggants needed for the project. We need to carefully analyze the applicability of our technology and adjust it to enhance its performance", Albert Nasibulin said.
"Part of the technology development will require future research involving the market players to achieve product-market fit. I am delighted with the diligence and support that Skoltech has offered us at ChemCode to adapt and guide the technology for future business applications," ChemCode CEO Erick Pastor noted.
He added that the potential of this technology goes beyond the ammonium nitrate market, with several identified industries like coatings. "There is a strong and mature competition in the consumer market, however, the industrial and raw materials segment shows attractive development for innovative technologies like the one developed by Skoltech with a robust technical expertise and flexibility of application," Pastor said.
Skoltech plans to continue working on the labeling technology, expanding it to other products including industrial and military explosives, alloys of metals as well as crucial parts in cars, trains, and planes, Nasibulin said. ChemCode CEO said the company is conducting technical analysis with several industry players in Central Europe and Asia for pilot projects and expects an international patent to be filed shortly.
"We are confident that having this international cooperation with Skoltech will benefit both parties and the final customer. We are looking for the next generation of inventions that can transition from the lab to the European and international market," Erick Pastor concluded.
"It is a significant milestone for Skoltech, by being the youngest science and research university in Russia and despite current pandemic situation, to overcome roadblocks and complete this deal. Coming up with a bright idea of invention and bringing it to the market from an academic environment remains difficult but still possible for implementation on a systematic basis. Together with extraordinary Skoltech scientists and with an emphasis on innovation development to fuel nation's prosperity, Skoltech continues to successfully transfer its technology and to increase its visibility on the global arena," Victoria Imanova, head of the Skoltech Knowledge Transfer Office, said.
Skoltech is a private international university located in Russia. Established in 2011 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Skoltech is cultivating a new generation of leaders in the fields of science, technology and business, is conducting research in breakthrough fields, and is promoting technological innovation with the goal of solving critical problems that face Russia and the world. Skoltech is focusing on six priority areas: data science and artificial intelligence, life sciences, advanced materials and modern design methods, energy efficiency, photonics and quantum technologies, and advanced research. Web: https://www.skoltech.ru/.