Coventor, a MEMS (microelectromecahnical systems) design tool and technology developer, says it is spinning off its microfluidics and biotech intellectual property portfolio, consulting services and IP development team to form an independent company called Teragenics.

Based in Watertown, MA, Teragenics will focus on the “unique needs” of the biotech market, Conventor says. The new company is headed by John Gilbert, the former chief technology officer of Cary-based Coventor. Gilbert will continue to serve Coventor as a technology advisor and on its Board of Directors.

Gail Massari, senior manager of marketing communications for Coventor, says fewer than 10 “key management and development personnel” initially will join Gilbert in Massachusetts, where he was already based at Coventor’s development headquarters in Cambridge.

Teragenics has received initial funding from outside investors, and Coventor retains an equity position in the new company. The financing for the deal is private, says Massari, so the company is “not giving out numbers,” but she adds that “investment opportunities do still exist.” She says the decision to spin off Teragenics was made by the executive team of Coventor and supported by the board of directors.

“Because this market is so different from the other markets (automotive, industrial, telecommunications, optical equipment, etc.), it made sense to spin it off,” Massari says. “The investor community is different than for our other products; the analysts for the industries are different, etc. Most of the other MEMS markets have some relation to electronics, semiconductor processing, etc. far beyond those associated with biotech.”

Teragenics will deliver products through joint development partnerships with companies that have instrument systems or biotech applications and need Teragenics’ microfluidics technology to meet market requirements. It will serve existing Coventor customers in microfluidics and biotech development services.

Eleven patents in portfolio

“Two years ago we began a concentrated investment in microfluidics and
biotech IP development,” Michael Jamiolkowski, president and chief executive officer of Coventor, said in a statement. “John and his team have created exciting technologies poised to drive significant inventions – technologies that warrant creation of a separate company dedicated to the needs of the biotech marketplace.”

Jamiolkowski and Gilbert co-founded Coventor as Microcosm Technologies in 1996. They have partnered since then as CEO and CTO, respectively. Gilbert’s team has 11 patents pending for microfluidics and biotechnology.

“Teragenics’ Picogenic biochip interfacing technology improves throughput rates by orders of magnitude from the current state-of-the-art,” said Gilbert, who will serve as president and CEO of Teragenics. “Our microfluidics flow control technology delivers solutions that are low cost and consume very low or no power.”

The entire microfluidics software development team will stay with Coventor, which will continue to enhance and sell its microfluidics software as part of the CoventorWare toolset. CoventorWare microfluidics capabilities are critical for developing inkjet, dispensing and other MEMS systems as well as biotech applications, the company says.