FlexEl: battery management system for thin-film batteries

FlexEl 1

Business Description
Founded in 2008, FlexEl is a U.S.-based, green-tech company developing innovative and high-performance, flexible power and flexible, powered, device applications. An award-winning technology spin-out from the University of Maryland, FlexEl is privately funded and works with partner companies to create, design, develop, license and/or manufacture novel flexible electronics and power management systems. FlexEl has developed custom BatteryCloth for applications including high-performance, wearable electronics, remote sensing and transmission, military applications, and novel consumer product devices. FlexEl’s core technologies (i.e., battery and energy harvesting technologies) emanate from the company’s original work on high-capacity power solutions for wireless sensor networks and active RFID tags.

FlexEl had developed the world’s highest capacity thin-film battery, with 20 times more capacity than any market alternative; however, it lacked a power management system to work in conjunction with the battery in various applications. The MIPS project was slated to develop the power management system.

FlexEl 2

Through MIPS funding, Granatstein developed a battery management system to wrap around FlexEl’s new-to-world battery chemistry and technology. The system is catered to FlexEl’s battery, making it a unique power supply for burst current, steady state current, and various charging sources, such as radio frequency (RF) or solar panels. The new system enables FlexEl’s team to select from a variety of charging sources and switch between environmental sources of power, as well as provide the voltage required for various applications.

FlexEl recently received a $6 million investment from a Fortune 500 company. FlexEl also acquired $3 million in grants and third party investment funding. The company now has 12 full-time and 18 part-time employees.

Interesting Fact
FlexEl is a UMD spinoff based upon the work of electrical and computer engineering professors Martin Peckerar and Neil Goldsman. The pair developed FlexEl’s batteries when investigating a new way to power “Smart Dust” through a government grant.

FlexEl 3

 MIPS-Related Quote
“MIPS set us out on a path to become a true commercial product. Through our MIPS project, we were able to move from promoting a battery technology to promoting a power solution. It allowed us to engage many more prospective customers and to make it much faster to market. From a CEO and business perspective, the MIPS program has been integral to our success.”
–Bob Proctor, CEO, FlexEl

Project Manager:  Bob Proctor;  Principal InvestigatorVictor Granatstein, UMD
Location:  College Park, Maryland – Prince George’s County;  Project Start Date:  2/1/2011

Leading up to (and beyond) the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) 25th Anniversary Gala, we will frequently profile one (or more) of the 500+ companies that have utilized MIPS funding to bring innovations to market and create jobs in Maryland.

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