A CAD$ 120 million boost for e<small>2</small>ip and its “smart surfaces”

A CAD$ 120 million boost for e2ip and its “smart surfaces”

Montreal, April 26th, 2023, LaPresse – The year 2023 will be a milestone for Montreal-based e2ip. Its “smart surfaces” technology developed since 2016 is ready to be commercialized, and it will be able to count on a CAD$ 120 million financing round to be announced this Wednesday.

This Series B round of financing was led by Export Development Canada (EDC) and McRock Capital. Investissement Québec doubled its position in the company and a new investor, the DNA Continuity Fund, was added. The feat is all the more remarkable given that venture capital funding in Canada fell sharply in early 2023, according to The Logic, to US$1.3 billion from US$3.7 billion during the same period the previous year.

” We have not been affected at all,” says Eric Saint-Jacques, CEO of e2ip. ” The financing round was completed at a higher level than originally planned, we have AAA investors. It was a pleasure to complete the round, we are very privileged to have had so much interest “.

e2ip is a company that is little known to the general public and employs 400 people. Yet it has an unusual history. “The company’s origins date back to 1894 in Montreal, and it has evolved as a family business,” says Saint-Jacques.  

Specialized in silk-screen printing, particularly for engraving information on metal plates for household appliances, over the years the company has undergone transformations and acquisitions to design various electronic components and devices, including printed circuits. The company has clients in the aeronautics, transportation and health sectors and has two facilities in Montreal as well as a plant in Casablanca, Morocco.

Invisible controls

Since 2016, in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and other partners, e2ip has been planning a big move: developing materials that will render buttons, dimmers and lights obsolete and replace them with “smart structural surfaces.” One example: a coffee maker designed with this type of flexible circuit board, completely hidden in the appliance, that would be controlled entirely by touch.

“You touch the surface as if it were your smartphone,” explains the CEO. “We’ve developed new materials that allow us to print functional circuits on a flexible sheet of polycarbonate. When we deform them, stretch them, put them in the device, they will resist this deformation. On the external structures of the object, there is nothing. The lights, the control circuits are now on the inside.”

What the CEO doesn’t hesitate to call a “disruptive technology” would also have the virtue of reducing the environmental footprint of manufactured devices, he assures.

“For decades, the way to allow humans to interact with objects has been to make holes, add buttons, switches, dimmers, lights. You add material, cost, complexity, breakpoints and failure points. All of these traditional knobs and methods add cost and hurt sustainability.”

This innovation that could disrupt our daily lives will begin to be seen in the marketplace this year. “We’re already working with the largest OEMs, for hospital beds, infusion pumps, aircraft surfaces, smoke detectors.”

The CAD$ 120 million in funding will be used, among other things, to purchase production lines for the Montreal plants for high-volume manufacturing, and for marketing efforts for this new product and those that already make e2ip successful.

Link to article