FlexEnergy licenses tech to serve smart clothing market
February 22, 2022
A minority-owned startup focused on providing flexible and high-temperature batteries for smart clothing has finalized its patent license agreements with the U.S. Air Force.
FlexEnergy LLC has finalized two patent license agreements with the Air Force Research Lab. The startup also received a $100,000 grant from the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund and the Ohio Department of Development in August 2021 to commercialize this technology.
Smart clothing was a $2.4 billion market in 2020 and is projected to be at $5.3 billion by 2024. The funding and the patent license agreements will enable Flex Energy to transfer the tech from the lab to market to serve the defense, healthcare, sports, fitness, and fashion industries, FlexEnergy CEO and President Suvankar Sengupta said.
“The key gap in the technology thus far has been the ability to embed a power source that fits in the traditional expectations of clothing, which is fit + look + movement, with the allure of smart technology,” FlexEnergy COO and Director Dr. Ramachandra Revur said. “Our battery achieves novel form factors for wearables that traditional Li-ion battery technologies cannot provide, making it an ideal solution for the future of clothing from athleisure wear and military and athletic uniforms to high-end luxury fashion.”
The challenge for smart clothing has been how to power it without installing heavy bricks of batteries that can’t run through the laundry or mold to the body’s natural contours. The newly licensed Air Force Research Lab technology solves this with its flexible but mechanically robust uniform separator membrane, trade marked as Pyrolux™, which will allow FlexEnergy’s batteries to flex and handle higher process and operating temperatures than those currently available on the market.
FlexEnergy will also be able to capitalize on its template-feee 3D-printing capabilities to produce large amounts of batteries in custom shapes.
FlexEnergy is a client of Launch Dayton partner Entrepreneurs’ Center’s Entrepreneurial Services Provider program, where the company’s entrepreneur-in-residence, Sibu Janardhanan, helped define the company’s business plan and supported negotiations to license the Air Force technology. Sibu is a P&L leader with 20+ years of experience with both Fortune 500 companies and global startup organizations.
“Our ESP program supports tech entrepreneurs with big ideas and the passion and dedication to see their vision from concept to growth, whose ideas will disrupt industries and transform expectations,” he said. “We are excited about the technological advancements FlexEnergy LLC is making to revolutionize the smart clothing industry, and I’m proud to help them increase market share and impact the regional economy as they continue to build their brand.”
Moving forward, the economic impact on the State of Ohio could be significant as FlexEnergy LLC is focused on making Ohio a leader in this niche of battery manufacturing. The company is committed to creating new jobs as they seek to open a manufacturing base to manage production and further research & development.