Tag Archives: RUSNANO

Snail mail and nanotechnology in Russia

RUSNANO (Russian Nanotechnologies Corporation) has inked a deal with Russia’s postal services according to a May 27, 2014 news item on Nanowerk,

Russian Post (Pochta Rossii) and RUSNANO signed an agreement at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on cooperation to apply nanotechnology solutions in postal services. The agreement was signed by the CEO of Russian Post, Dmitry Strashnov, and the Executive Chairman of RUSNANO, Anatoly Chubais. Russian Post and RUSNANO create a system for monitoring of postal deliveries.

A May 23, 2014 RUSNANO news release, which originated the news item, provides more detail,

The project involves implementation by Russian Post of a global monitoring system designed on a turnkey basis by RST-Invent LLC, a portfolio company of RUSNANO. The system will provides automatic registration of recorded-delivery mail and international mail passing through the postal network by means of radio frequency identification tags (RFID-tags). As well as supporting the timely delivery of mail, the new system will automate document handling, create mechanisms for mail flow management and improve postal logistics. Most importantly, the introduction of RFID-tags will ensure that post reaches its destination safely and quickly.

The project is scheduled for launch this summer and will be in operation by the end of 2014 at international postal exchange points (airport hubs in Moscow and St. Petersburg), and also at a number of major national and regional sorting offices, transit hubs and mail transportation offices at airports (Vnukovo Logistics Center, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don). It is expected that RST-Invent will equip a total of 25 postal exchange points in the course of the project as well as the National Monitoring Centre (NCM), which is being set up as part of the system .

This agreement is an integral part of the strategy for the modernization of Russian Post. The nanotechnology solutions offered by RUSNANO’s portfolio company will be an important tool for improving the business processes of Russian Post.

“RUSNANO technologies will enable us to improve our logistics and control over the quality of mail delivery,” said Dmitry Strashnov. “This agreement means that we can improve the quality of our services and raise levels of customer satisfaction.”

I have two observations about this news. First, if I remember rightly one of the issues with implementing a ‘universal’ RFID tagging system is the cost of the tag. Presumably, the Russians have solved this problem and, further, are prepared to deal with the data these tags will generate.

My second observation is this, the paranoids amongst us are likely to feel vindicated by this news as many suspect wide scale implementation of this technology. For example,I have a paranoid neighbour who is convinced that someone has been using RFID technology in some plot against her (the neighbour).

Foam glass manufacturing facility commissioned in Russia’s Kaluga region

A Dec. 27, 2013 news item on Azlonano features RUSNANO and a foam glass facility in Russia,

On December 20 [2013], Russia’s first and Europe’s major technological complex for the production of foam glass ICM Glass Kaluga, of the project company Rusnano, was commissioned in the industrial park Borovskoye. The ceremony was attended by the Kaluga Region’s Governor Anatoly Artamonov and chairman of Rusnano’s board Anatoly Chubais.

The facility is aimed at hi-tech production of construction materials from foam glass. Broken glass is used as the raw material, which enables effective recycling of solid household rubbish. The complex’s planned capacity is 300,000 cubic metres a year to be achieved by the facility’s 50 employees. The agreed total budget exceeds 1.8 billion roubles ($54 million).

I found more information about the new facility in a Dec.20, 2013 press release (machine translation of Russian into English) here: http://www.newportal.admoblkaluga.ru/main/news/events/detail.php?ID=153747, (I think this is a portal for the Kaluga region)

December 20 [2013] in the industrial park “Vorsino” Borovsky District hosted a ceremony industrial launch of the first in Russia and the largest in Europe and technological complex for the production of crushed stone penostekolnogo LLC “AySiEm Glass Kaluga” – the project company “RUSNANO”. It was attended by Governor Anatoly Artamonov and delegation “RUSNANO” headed by the chairman of the state corporation Anatoly Chubais.

Taken at the enterprise high-tech production of construction material of foamed glass. Feedstock is usual broken glass that facilitates efficient processing of municipal solid waste. The design capacity of the complex is 300 thousand cubic meters per year, the staff – 50 people. The total budget of the project is determined in the amount of more than 1.8 billion rubles.

Talking about the significance of the event, Anatoly Artamonov emphasized perspective of further business cooperation with the State Corporation “Rusnano”. “Our cooperation – an important milestone in the economic development of the Kaluga region, because we have chosen an innovative way and are committed to increase the share of high-tech products”, – assured the governor.

Chairman of the Board of the Civil Code “RUSNANO” Anatoly Chubais also expressed readiness to support the business activities of the Kaluga region. “Today, in the region we run two joint projects. The plans of two more – in the production of innovative pharmaceuticals – with a complete cycle from design to sales. They invested 8 billion rubles, plan – and another 10 billion, “- he said.

On the same day in the office «Freight Village Kaluga» held a meeting at which the parties discussed the details of future cooperation. In order to continue business contacts “RUSNANO” Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs with Government organizations and the Kaluga region Anatoly Chubais Anatoly Artamonov and signed the final protocol. The main outcome of the meeting was a joint decision on the establishment of nanotechnology center in Obninsk, which will bring together teams of scientists and professionals working in the field of nanotechnology. Thus, according to Anatoly Chubais, “Kaluga region will be the region, opening a” second wave “nanocenters.”

Reference: In the current year, the regional government in conjunction with the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs of the state corporation “RUSNANO” program was launched to stimulate demand for nanotech products. It provides for the inclusion of 10 per cent of innovation, including nanotechnology products in state and municipal orders. In 2014, with the support of the corporation “RUSNANO” in the region plans to build the center positron emission tomography, “PET-Center”, which will bring a new level not only a primary diagnosis of cancer, but also to monitor the dynamics of the disease, to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.

For the curious, here’s more information about foam glass on the ENCO Engineering website,

Foamed glass grain as described in the following is an excellent bulk material for civil construction and insulation purposes. It is a lightweight, extremely fine-pored expanded glass with millions of hermetically sealed pores. Since no diffusion can take place, the material is watertight and achieves an efficient barrier against soil humidity.

Besides the outstanding mechanical and thermal properties of the product, foamed glass manufacture is an exemplary process for waste recycling on an industrial basis. Foam glass can be manufactured fully out of waste glass, with only a minimum of virgin additives.

Foamed glass grain is the product of choice wherever a finely grained, free-flowing bulk material is required. It is especially suitable for thin-walled thermal insulations, such as for window frames, cement bricks and insulating plasters.

ENCO Engineering is a Swiss chemical engineering and consultancy according to the information on the company website’s homepage.

RUSNANO (not dead yet) signs MOU with Alcoa

Despite what appear to be some travails noted in my May 17, 2013 posting, RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies) is still making deals as reported in a June 21, 2013 news item on Nanowerk,

Alcoa and RUSNANO will produce technologically advanced oil and gas aluminum drill pipe finished with a life-extending antiwear coating under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the companies today. With the help of the Alcoa Technical Center, the parties intend to pursue the potential application of a nanotechnology-based coating for the aluminum drill pipe to enhance its wear resistance in harsh corrosive drilling environments.

Alcoa Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld and OJSC RUSNANO Chief Executive Officer Anatoly Chubais signed the MOU at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The June 21, 2013 Alcoa news release, which originated the news item, provides more details,

“Complex oil and gas development projects require drilling equipment with enhanced capabilities,” Chubais said. “Aluminum drill pipe with antiwear nano-coating would enable directional and deep drilling in aggressive, corrosive environments. We expect our joint efforts with Alcoa will create a differentiated product for customers in the oil and gas industry.”

Mr. Kleinfeld added, “Alcoa’s deep technological capabilities, combined with the expertise of our partner RUSNANO, will open new opportunities for developing the aluminum industry in Russia. Alcoa is setting a high standard for innovation and extending our product range in the oil and gas segment.”

With facilities in Samara and Belaya Kalitva, Alcoa is Russia’s largest producer of fabricated aluminum, manufacturing a wide range of flat rolled products, forgings and extrusions for a variety of end markets including aerospace and automotive. [emphasis mine] Under terms of the MOU, Alcoa will leverage its Samara facility to produce aluminum drill pipe with hot fit tool joints for the country’s oil and gas market. RUSNANO Capital, a subsidiary of OJSC RUSNANO, will contribute capital.

The antiwear nano-coating is expected to extend the life of the aluminum pipe by approximately 30% to 40% in aggressive and corrosive drilling environments compared to uncoated aluminum pipe.

Here’s a little more about the two principles, Alcoa and about RUSNANO, from the news release,

About Alcoa

Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the past 125 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 11 consecutive years and approximately 75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 30 countries across the world. …

In 2005, the Company acquired two of Russia’s largest fabricating facilities: Samara Metallurgical Plant (now ZAO Alcoa SMZ) and Belaya Kalitva Metallurgical Production Association (now ZAO AMR). [emphasis mine]

About RUSNANO

RUSNANO was founded in March 2011 as an open joint stock company through reorganization of state corporation Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies. RUSNANO’s mission is to develop the Russian nanotechnology industry through co-investment in nanotechnology projects with substantial economic potential or social benefit. The Government of the Russian Federation owns 100 percent of the shares in RUSNANO. Anatoly Chubais is CEO and chairman of the Executive Board of RUSNANO.

Work to establish nanotechnology infrastructure and training for nanotechnology specialists, formerly conducted by the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies, has been entrusted to the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs, a non-commercial fund also established through reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.

As for the 2011 founding date for RUSNANO, that appears to be the date it became an open stock company. Here’s more according to the RUSNANO Wikipedia essay (Note: Links and footnotes have been removed),

A law (On the Russian Nanotechnology Corporation) which resulted in the creation of “Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies” was proposed by several members of the United Russia party on June 2007. The proposal passed its first reading in the State Duma on June 14 and final reading on July 4. The upper house, the Federation Council, approved it on July 6. Initially organised as a state corporation, the company was re-registered on March 11, 2011 as open joint-stock company RUSNANO.

In any event, I’m keeping an eye on RUSNANO as it continues to evolve in the midst of what appears to be a more than usually volatile period for Russia’s state business enterprises.

Russia’s nanotechnology efforts falter?

The title for Leonid Bershidksy’s May 16, 2013 Bloomberg.com article, Power Grab Trumps Nanotechnology in Putin’s Russia, casts an ominous shadow over Rusnano’s situation (Note: Links have been removed),

The projects, known as Rusnano and Skolkovo, were meant to propel Russia’s raw-material economy into the technology age. They involved multibillion-dollar government investments, the first in nanotechnology and the second in a new city that would become Russia’s answer to Silicon Valley. They were supposed to provide the infrastructure and stability required to attract large amounts of foreign investment.

Now, both have become targets in Putin’s campaign to demonstrate that he’s being tough on corruption and mismanagement of government funds. As a result, their chances of succeeding are looking increasingly remote.

Trouble came in April [2013], when the Accounting Chamber, a body charged with auditing government spending, accused Rusnano of inefficient management in a report that received ample coverage on state-owned TV. It said that Rusnano had transferred about $40 million to shell companies and pointed out that a silicon factory in which Rusnano invested about $450 million was not functioning and was about to be declared insolvent. The report also highlighted the state company’s 2012 losses of 2.5 billion rubles ($80 million) and the 24.4-billion-ruble (about $800 million) in reserves Rusnano had formed against potential losses from risky ventures.

Anatoly Medetsky’s Apr. 29, 2013 article for The Moscow Times provides more insight into the situation,

The government’s Audit Chamber on Friday [April 26, 2013] accused state-owned Rusnano of multiple infractions in a blow to the high-tech corporation’s chief, Anatoly Chubais.

The chamber’s critical conclusions followed President Vladimir Putin’s reproof of the company during a live call-in show the previous day.

Auditors made their statement after examining Rusnano’s records in response to a request by Chubais’ political nemesis, the Communist Party.

“The audit’s materials attest that Rusnano’s performance was inappropriate to attain the goals that it was entrusted with, which are the development of the national nano industry,” the Audit Chamber said in a statement.

Auditor Sergei Agaptsov said separately that Rusnano is unlikely to achieve the goal of 300 billion rubles in annual sales of nano-tech products by the companies it co-owns in 2015 — the target that the government set for the company, Interfax reported.

I’m sorry to read about Rusnano’s difficulties especially in light my first piece about it where I compared the Canadian effort unfavourably to, what was then, a relatively new and promising organization in my Apr. 14, 2009 posting. About seventeen months later, officials with Rusnano signed a memorandum of understanding with John Varghese, CEO and Managing Partner of Toronto based venture capital firm, VentureLink Funds as noted in my Sept. 14, 2010 posting. Nothing further seemed to come of that agreement.

I have one last thought about Rusnano’s current travails, will they have an impact on US commercialization efforts? In my Oct. 28, 2011 posting where I was contrasting nanotechnology commercialization efforts by the US, Spain, and Rusnano, I mentioned this deal Rusnano had made with two US nanomedicine companies,

Then RUSNANO announced its investments in Selecta Biosciences and BIND Biosiences, from the Oct. 27, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

BIND Biosciences and Selecta Biosciences, two leading nanomedicine companies, announced today that they have entered into investment agreements with RUSNANO, a $10-billion Russian Federation fund that supports high-tech and nanotechnology advances. [emphasis mine]

RUSNANO is co-investing $25 million in BIND and $25 million in Selecta, for a total RUSNANO investment of $50 million within the total financing rounds of $94.5 million in the two companies combined. …

The proprietary technology platforms of BIND and Selecta originated in laboratories at Harvard Medical School directed by Professor Omid Farokhzad, MD, and in laboratories at MIT directed by Professor Robert Langer, ScD, a renowned scientist who is a recipient of the US National Medal of Science, the highest US honor for scientists, and is an inventor of approximately 850 patents issued or pending worldwide. Drs. Langer and Farokhzad are founders of both companies.

Ripple effects, eh? Rusnano was very active internationally.

ETA June 14, 2013:  Nanowerk has a June 13, 2013 news item, which updates the situation with the news that Rusnano has opted out of presenting an ‘initial public offering’, aka, listing itself on a stock exchange in 2015 and will instead attract private investment.

Forbes magazine and US science culture

Forbes magazine, which is based in the US but now has editions produced in many countries, describes its focus as business and finance. So, it might seem a little unexpected to find a list of rising stars in the fields of science and health until one remembers the current fascination, worldwide, with innovation which often seems to mean science research which can be commercialized.

Forbes has just published its list of ’30 under 30′ rising stars in the fields of Science and Health Care. Pedro Valencia, who studied with and worked in Robert Langer’s lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was one of the 30 cited in the 2012 list. From the Dec. 27, 2012 news item on Azonano,

Valencia was cited for figuring out “how to more quickly synthesize nanoparticles that can be used to make drugs more effective and less toxic and to put multiple drugs inside the same nanotech medicine. This has resulted in many top-notch scientific publications and the formation of a start-up, Blend Therapeutics.”

Valencia was the recipient of the NSF Graduate Fellowship. He was co-advised by Professor Langer and Dr. Omid Farokhzad of the Brigham Women’s Hospital – Harvard Medical School.

Langer and Farokhzad were mentioned in my Oct. 28, 2011 posting about nanotechnology commercialization efforts,

… BIND Biosciences and Selecta Biosciences, two leading nanomedicine companies, announced today that they have entered into investment agreements with RUSNANO, a $10-billion Russian Federation fund that supports high-tech and nanotechnology advances.

RUSNANO is co-investing $25 million in BIND and $25 million in Selecta, for a total RUSNANO investment of $50 million within the total financing rounds of $94.5 million in the two companies combined. …

The proprietary technology platforms of BIND and Selecta originated in laboratories at Harvard Medical School directed by Professor Omid Farokhzad, MD, and in laboratories at MIT directed by Professor Robert Langer, ScD, a renowned scientist who is a recipient of the US National Medal of Science, the highest US honor for scientists, and is an inventor of approximately 850 patents issued or pending worldwide. Drs. Langer and Farokhzad are founders of both companies. [Farokhzad was featured in a recent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation {CBC}, Nature of Things, television episode about nanomedicine, titled More than human.] Professor Ulrich von Andrian, MD, PhD, head of the immunopathology laboratory at Harvard Medical School, is a founder of Selecta.

It is fascinating to observe not only the linkages between business and science/health but also the way in which those linkages contribute to a larger ‘science culture’, which includes science festivals, science-oriented popular culture, science talks for just a few examples.

Richard Branson, take your hands off my nano

RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies) fascinates me such that I’ve posted about the organization and its ‘wheeling and dealing’ several times with my RUSNANO and 12BF’s clean energy investment fund [July 24, 2012] and Russian government sells 10% holding in RUSNANO [June 25, 2012] postings being the latest until now.  Virgin Group and RUSNANO have announced a new, joint emerging market fund. From the Nov. 14, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

Virgin Group, Virgin Green Fund and RUSNANO Capital announced the formation of VGF Emerging Market Growth I. L. P. = with commitments of over $200 million.

The Fund will invest in buyout and growth equity opportunities in mid-cap companies. It will target the resource efficiency, consumer sustainability and renewable energy sectors in Russia, Turkey and CEE [Central Europe and Russia Fund Inc.]. The Fund will benefit from the Virgin and RUSNANO brands, deal flow and local investing experience.

The Oct. 31, 2012 RUSNANO news release (which originated the news item) provides this detail,

The Emerging Market Fund is set up by Shai Weiss, Evan Lovell, Brooks Preston and Tamas Szalai. Weiss and Lovell are theco-foundingpartners of the Virgin Green Fund. Preston formerly of Wolfensohn & Company and Szalai of Bancroft Private Equity will lead the investment team.  Andrew Reicher, the former head of CEE Private Equity for Credit Suisse and Chief Investment Officer at Actis, is the non-executive chairman of the investment committee. Collectively, the team brings the experience of investing USD $2 billion in emerging markets through more than 50 transactions. [emphasis mine]

Anatoly Chubais, RUSNANO CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board: “Renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies will provide answers to the key global challenges of natural resources depletion and environment pollution. Developing solutions will be impossible without the use of nanotechnology. I believe the fund will find great opportunities to invest in growth companies in Russia and take them into global markets.”

‘More than 50 transactions’ doesn’t sound that impressive to me but perhaps that reflects my ignorance. I’m also surprised they don’t mention any specific successes from this previous experience of investing USD $2B.

Sir Richard Branson (founder and chairman of the Virgin Group) or someone who purports to be Branson posted about the announcement when it was made on Oct. 31, 2012 in Moscow on Richard’s blog (Note: I have removed links),

Seven years ago at the Clinton Global Initiative I pledged to invest the dividends from our transport business into renewable fuels and resource efficiency.

Since then we have invested in fuel companies, set up our Green Fund, founded the Carbon War Room and established The Earth Challenge – as well as making a number of investments in emerging fuel businesses.

Today, I’m back in Moscow – at the country’s largest technology forum – Open Innovations. We are launching our second Virgin Green Fund with our Russian partners Rusnano. This one is targeting the Emerging Markets and the exciting venture will invest in growth companies to improve energy efficiency and find the technologies and fuels of the future.

At the Forum I was quizzed by 100 of Russia’s brightest young entrepreneurs and encouraged them to build their businesses with a smile and look to throw some of the conformity that marks so much of Russian business. There is so much enthusiasm and opportunity in the country.

I hope successful ventures arise from this new fund. ETA Nov. 21, 2012: As for this posting’s headline, it’s a reference to the pervasiveness of the Virgin brand.

RUSNANO and 12BF’s clean energy investment fund

After the late June 2012 announcement that the Russian government was selling its shares in various resource- and commodity-based national enterprises as well as 10% of its stake in RUSNANO (my June 25, 2012 posting), this seems an interesting development. Sally Bakewell in a July 18, 2012 article for Bloomberg.com mentions a new Rusnano venture (Note: I have removed links),

Rusnano Capital LLC teamed up with New York-based I2BF Global Ventures to invest $150 million in nanotechnologies for Russia’s agriculture and water industries.

Nanotechnology, which deals with matter on a scale comparable to the diameter of a strand of DNA, can be used to remove pollutants and salt from water, improve soil fertility and boost crops. Drought, still affecting nine regions in Russia, has damaged grains on 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of land this year, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

The July 18, 2012 news item on Opalesque offers this detail,

Rusnano Capital (RNC), the Russian government-owned nanotechnology investment company, and international technology investment group I2BF Global Ventures have announced the launch of the I2BF-RNC Strategic Resources Fund to invest in later-stage nanotechnology companies. The seven-year fund launches with a $53m commitment from its LPs with a target fund size of $150m.

Its remit will be to invest in international nanotechnology that has applications of value within the Russian Federation, with a focus on the resource sector as well as water and agriculture.

“We are delighted to partner with Rusnano Capital on our first late-stage venture fund expanding on I2BF’s existing investment expertise,” says Ilya Golubovich, Managing Partner of I2BF Global Ventures (right). “… The opportunities to roll out nanotech applications and also production facilities in Russia are widespread and we will be using our global footprint to channel the best technologies into this market.”

Russian government sells 10% holding in RUSNANO

This is a very brief news bit from a June 22, 2012 article by Scott Rose for Bloomberg Business Week,

Russia’s government plans to sell stakes in its rail monopoly, grain trader, biggest shipper, nanotechnology holding and largest banks within 18 months as it loosens its grip on an economy dominated by commodity exports.

The state must also sell half of Rosagroleasing, 25.5 percent of OAO Bank VTB, 10 percent of nanotechnology holding OAO Rusnano and 7.6 percent of OAO Sberbank in the same period. [emphasis mine]

After selling 10% of RUSNANO, the government will still own 90% if the information in the Wikipedia essay is correct,

Rusnano (Russian: Роснано) (formerly Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies) is a joint-stock company created and owned by the government of Russia and aimed at commercializing developments in nanotechnology. Rusnano’s task is to create by 2015 a nano-industry in the country that will make marketable products worth 900 billion rubles ($29 billion). In April 2012 they invested US $79m in Quantenna Communications, a manufacturer of semiconductors for wireless networks and devices. According to a press release issued by Rusnano, this investment will leverage synergies between Quantenna’s portfolio and a number of nanotechnology initiatives that are under way at RUSNANO.

One hundred percent of the shares in RUSNANO have become the property of the government. At this moment, the Board of Directors and the Auditing Commission have been formed; the chairman of the Executive Board has been appointed—Anatoly Chubais. During its first meeting, planned for late March 2011, the Board of Directors of RUSNANO will form the Executive Board of the company.

This 10% sale seems more symbolic than serious  when compared to the requirement that the government sell 100% of its shares in various business enterprises such as the OAO RusHydro, Russian Agricultural Bank, Sheremetyevo Airport, amongst others.

RUSNANO sells an investment based on IRR (internal rate of return)

This is a turnaround. The news items usually state that RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies) is about to invest money but this time they’re selling their investment. From the May 28, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

RUSNANO’s Board of Directors has approved the company’s first exit from a previously-invested company. RUSNANO sells its 27.6 percent equity stake in Advanced Technologies Center, a leading producer of scanning probe microscopes and atomic scales. The sale to the project applicant, NPP CPT will generate IRR of 29.5 percent on RUSNANO’s investment.

RUSNANO’s co-financing enabled the high-tech company founded by Moscow State University professor Igor Yaminsky to reach next level of business and to expand its line of scanning probe microscopes [SPM] and SPM software. RUSNANO has invested 50 million rubles in the project, out of the 140 million rubles originally planned. In December 2011 the portfolio company opened a production site which will double its production capacity up to the revenue levels of 70 million rubles by the end of 2012.

The deal meets two essential RUSNANO’s criteria for successful exit: IRR is no lower than was planned, and the project is able to develop independently.

I had to look up ‘internal rate of investment’ (IRR) and found this essay on Wikipedia (Note: I have removed links and footnotes from the excerpt),

The internal rate of return (IRR) is a rate of return used in capital budgeting to measure and compare the profitability of investments. It is also called the discounted cash flow rate of return (DCFROR) or the rate of return (ROR). In the context of savings and loans the IRR is also called the effective interest rate. The term internal refers to the fact that its calculation does not incorporate environmental factors (e.g., the interest rate or inflation).

The news item goes on to describe the Russian company,  Advanced Technologies Center’s (not to be confused with New Zealand’s government agency, Advanced Technology Institute) product line (from the May 28, 2012 news item),

The main product of the Advanced Technologies Center is the FemtoScan series of scanning probe microscopes, high-precision instruments that use the mechanical motion of a probe (cantilever) to study the surface of a sample at the nanoscale. SPMs are used for research in chemistry, physics, biology and medicine, as well as for industrial applications such as surface quality control. The company also produces SPM control and image processing software, as well as precision scales capable to detect substances at atomic level.

There seems to be a lot of action in the world of microscopy these days. This is the second item I’ve written on the topic in the last 10 days (and it’s not my main area of interest).

The French and the Russians work on point-of-care diagnostic devices

RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies), a regular visitor to my postings, has just signed a deal with French company, Magnisense SE (why do I keep wanting to call it (en français) Magnificence?), for a three year development deal. From the Feb. 6, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

RUSNANO and Magnisense today announced that they have finalized details for investment in Magnisense SE, a French developer of the next generation of in vitro bioassays for diagnostic testing in healthcare, veterinary medicine, food safety, and environmental protection. RUSNANO will invest up to €28.5 million over a three-year period in the joint project whose total cost is put at €44.3 million. The remaining co-investment will come from Magnisense’s existing and new shareholders.

The new project will manufacture in Russia an advanced diagnostic system based on Magnisense’s proprietary technology MIAtek®—a magnetic immunoassay in which nanosized magnetic beads are attached to an antibody that selectively binds target molecules, micro-organisms, or other antibodies in test media.

I gather not all of the products that are going to be manufactured in Russia will be point-of-care diagnostic devices but all of them will be based on the Magnisense technology,

Magnisense will establish a Russian subsidiary to produce two product lines:

·  MIAstrip®: point-of-care testing strips that identify a target by detecting known markers for a number of conditions—cardiac arrest, bacterial infections including tetanus, viral infections such as avian flu, and parasitic and fungal infections;

·  MIAflo®: disposable cartridges that detect and quantify such targets as bacterial contaminants in food (e.g., Listeria and Salmonella) or water (e.g., Legionella). Magnisense’s Russian manufacturing facility is expected to open in 2015 with production capacity of 3.5 million test media. The media will be sold domestically and exported, primarily to Europe, the US, and Japan.

In the future, Magnisense intends to increase production in Russia and to focus on the professional segment of the decentralized diagnostic testing market generally known as point-of-care (POC). It will expand into the CIS, Europe, the US, Japan, and China. POC diagnostics—tests performed in medical environments, the workplace, and at home—have become the driving force in the world’s healthcare market. According to Kalorama Information, a market research company specializing in healthcare and related areas, decentralized diagnostics is the fastest growing segment in healthcare. And the professional POC market, already $5.2 billion in 2009, is estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 6 percent with its rate of growth accelerating.

For anyone interested in magnetic immunoassay Magnisense has devoted a webpage to the technology they have developed,

Magnetic immunoassay was developed for the rapid and sensitive detection of proteins, viruses or bacteria in biological or food samples. The system incorporates the use of coated magnetic beads as labels in lateral flow (MIAstrip®) or flow through (MIAflo®) or chip (MIAchip®) formats.

The technology is versatile. It is compatible with multiple assays and uses standard liquid handling robots installed in many clinical labs worldwide.

The robots are designed to deliver reagents via removable tips to carry out ELISA on multi-well plates. As opposed to standard applications, the MIAflo® is realized on the 3D filters inside the tips, and the plate is used to hold the reagents. MIAflo® provides more sensitive and faster results compared to ELISA due to the absence of kinetic limitations and immunofiltration of the antigens on a large immune-active surface. In addition, MIAflo® successfully works even with the whole blood of patients, decreasing the sample preparation time.

I’m not all that interested in pursuing the differences between this technique and ELISA (you can read more about ELISA in this Wikipedia essay) but what does interest me is this worldwide competition to develop point-of-care diagnostics.