An agreement was signed between the University of Barcelona (UB), the National Research Council (CSIC) and the company Smalle Technologies, SL, whereby this firm acquired an exclusive license to develop and commercialize an innovative technology that generates electricity from the movement. This technology, which has been developed by UB researchers and the CSIC, is capable of converting mechanical energy from, for example, the rocking motion of the waves or the wind into electrical energy that can be used by a vessel or a maritime buoy.
The most immediate applications are directed to the sector of buoys and sailboats because they do not require high amounts of energy to operate. The electricity generation system has significant advantages over other systems of renewable energy production such as solar panels, since the devices made do not need to be installed, its operation does not depend on the weather and it can be manufactured with low cost materials.
The technology, patented by the UB and the CSIC, has been developed by the researchers Christophe Serre, tenure track 2 lecturer at the Department of Electronics of the UB; Alejandro Pérez, professor at the Department of Electronics of the UB and researcher at the Institute for Energy Research (IREC); Jaume Esteve, researcher at the CSIC’s Barcelona Microelectronics Institute-National Microelectronics Centre (IMB-CNM); Maria Creu Acer, IMB-CNM researcher; and Núria Fondevilla, adjunct lecturer at the Department of Electronics of the UB. The mechanical engineer Rubén Carballo has continued the technological development begun by previous researchers. The entrepreneur Héctor Martín joined the team as the director general. Martín holds a degree in Physics by the UB and a MBA by ESADE; he also has an extensive business experience which has helped him to analyze the commercial viability of this technology and to design an effective business plan.
Even if this UB-CSIC spin-off, Smalle Technologies, was created very recently —on 30th July— , its business project has already won several awards, including the first prize of the programme EcoEmprenedor XXI. This programme promotes the creation and growth of enterprises in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency, driven by La Caixa, Barcelona Activa, the Catalan Institute of Energy, Gamesa, KIC InnoEnergy, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and Endesa. It has also won the EmprendeGO contest of innovative ideas in the category of new energy sources organized by Infoempleo and promoted, among others, by major companies like Repsol.
The Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (FBG), a knowledge transfer, technology and innovation center of the UB Group, has supported this project, paving the way towards commercialization in different aspects. On one hand, the Valorisation and Licensing Unit of the FBG has secured funding for the enhancement of the technology, which has allowed improving the design of the prototype. The funding came from a grant of the programme VALOR, announced by the Agency for Management of University and Research Grants (AGAUR) of the Government of Catalonia, with the technical supervision of ACC1Ó. On the other hand, the Business Creation Area of the FBG has advised the definition of the business plan of the company Smalle Technologies, and it has collaborated in raising funds for the creation and growth of the company.
The Valorisation and Licensing Unit of the FBG has negotiated the exclusive license agreement signed between the UB, the CSIC and the company Smalle Technologies. The mission of this strategic area of the FBG is to ensure the identification, protection, development and commercialization of the inventions developed by UB researchers and professors. Both, the Valorisation and Licensing Unit and the Business Creation Area belong to the ACC1Ó Valorisation Units and are supported by this institution in order to ensure that the excellent results of the research carried out at the UB will be translated into benefits for our society and a fair return for researchers and the University.