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Fraunhofer ISE announces S Mile Solutions spinoff for African developments...

13 Mar 2024

...while Microdisplays and Sensors business unit at Fraunhofer FEP integrated into Fraunhofer IPMS.

No clean water, functioning electricity grid, nor primary healthcare. This a scenario that is not uncommon in remote areas of the sub-Saharan region of Africa. The founding of S Mile Solutions (Pty) Ltd., a spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films (IST) and Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), is aiming to change this.

The start-up, based in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa, provides smart, small-scale and off-grid infrastructure solutions that are mounted on pick-up trucks, thereby enabling companies and institutions to access rural and remote communities with their services and products.

The aim of Smart Last Mile Solutions, (“S Mile”, for short), is to enable infrastructure-based services along the last mile and, to improve the living conditions and prospects of remote communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Examples include the supply of clean water and electricity, as well as their storage, the inclusion of hygiene measures and the provision of telecommunications for the establishment of primary healthcare with telemedicine and data-management opportunities in the field.

“As a start-up company, the engineering and consulting company is currently focusing on the provision of self-sufficient preclinical platforms for primary healthcare,” said Dr. Lothar Schäfer, S Mile founding member and former Deputy Director of the Fraunhofer IST.

Plans for the future include the expansion of the product range to also support other sectors such as wildlife and nature conservation, agriculture, mining, tourism, disaster relief and research platforms.

S Mile infrastructure solutions are to be further developed, adapted and deployed in the field. “Joint training and further education offers, for instance in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Academy, or the development of joint participation strategies,” said Dr. Joachim Koschikowski, Group Leader in Water Treatment and Materials Separation at the Fraunhofer ISE and fourth S Mile founding member.

Fraunhofer FEP’s Microdisplays and Sensors business unit integrated into IPMS

The Microdisplays and Sensors business unit at the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology (FEP) has been integrated into the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS), with retroactive effect from January 1, 2024.

Both institutes are closely connected, particularly within this business unit, and share infrastructure at the Dresden site. By pooling expertise and streamlining structures, we anticipate the creation of synergies that will strengthen the research field, expedite development and thus benefit customers and partners.

There is rapid development in the market for the microdisplays used in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) applications and this will be an important growth market of the future, say the partners.

The integration of OLED and µLED frontplane technologies in CMOS backplanes is not only the key to success in this sector but also the technological basis for near-to-eye visualization of information.

The two institutes decided, in consultation with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, to integrate the Fraunhofer FEP Microdisplays and Sensors business unit into Fraunhofer IPMS. Their goal is to leverage synergies in the area of infrastructure, pool their expertise and establish a new profile.

“By integrating the Fraunhofer FEP Microdisplays and Sensors business unit into Fraunhofer IPMS, we are pooling our expertise and ensuring the best possible use of our infrastructure. This will also increase our chances to win projects with the Microelectronics group,” said Prof. Holger Hanselka, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Harald Schenk, Director of Fraunhofer IPMS, said, “In the future, Fraunhofer IPMS will increase its activities in this area and focus more on the heterogeneous integration of various chiplet technologies with CMOS microelectronics. This includes the integration of organic semiconductors (OLEDs) and novel emitter technologies (µLEDs).”

Elizabeth von Hauff, Director of Fraunhofer FEP, said, “Transferring to Fraunhofer IPMS will open up additional development potential for the business unit and enable Fraunhofer FEP to focus on strategic topics in the field of electron beam and plasma technologies.”

TRIOPTICS GmbHMad City Labs, Inc.SPECTROGON ABIridian Spectral TechnologiesHÜBNER PhotonicsLaCroix Precision OpticsBerkeley Nucleonics Corporation
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