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Exploring pioneering ideas

With Mycronic's Sustainable Innovation Fund

Text: Cathrin Wisén

Photo: Mycronic

Innovation is in our DNA, and being innovative means daring to enter uncharted territory. In January 2022, Mycronic launched its Sustainable Innovation Fund. Mycronic already invests 12 percent of its revenues in R&D and with this fund we will expand our investments even more.

The fund is dedicated to finance innovation projects that have a clear sustainability agenda that also supports at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The focus will be on sustainability projects that have the possibility to make radical advances toward our goal to develop solutions that help customers realize their goals, while enabling the transition to a more sustainable electronics industry.

Innovation as a means to an end

In the Sustainable Innovation Fund, innovation is used as a means to create sustainable ideas. With this fund we aim to challenge our industry, show the way on how sustainability can be woven into the business, creating new tech that takes large leaps in sustainability.

The first project idea has already been approved for funding. Mycronic’s R&D for SMT-solutions will explore new innovations that potentially can reduce CO2-emissions greatly.

We are standing on the shoulders of giants, and our job is to refine even further

The project – exploring new technology applications

Together with an external partner Mycronic is exploring a new technology, and if it can be applied to our industry. The aim is to dramatically reduce the energy usage when operating our products.

Robert Helleday, Head of R&D at Mycronic High Flex, explains the strength of collaboration. “When it comes to innovation, it is vital to build on existing technology. We are standing on the shoulders of giants, and our job is to refine even further. It is centuries of development that enables new ideas today. And when we collaborate with external partners we make sure that we pool our collective experience, and explore new applications together.”

The project focuses on extensive experiments and thorough research to understand the theory behind the results. “When exploring new territory it is important we have a solid knowledge base. If an experiment delivers positive results, it is crucial to fully understand why it worked. This in order to continue to build on the findings.” Robert explains.

Mycronic employee showing the Jet Printer to customers

Exploring high-risk projects

With dedicated funding, R&D is able to allocate dedicated resources on more long-term initiatives in addition to standard product development. It makes it possible to explore ideas beyond incremental development, that are more often connected to needs at the present moment. “The fund allows us to also look beyond our business targets, to think sustainability and innovation from a larger perspective in order to make radical advances,” Robert explains.

Robert continues, “In our incremental R&D, we typically start our projects with an opportunity study, continue with a concept and feasibility study and then we have the product development-phase. The fund allows us to be exploratory at an earlier stage, exploring several ideas, out of which maybe only one becomes an opportunity study”.

Reaching technical maturity

Before this idea successfully can become an opportunity study it needs to reach a valid Technical Readiness Level (TRL). TRL is a method for estimating the maturity of a new technology. The levels range from 1-9, where 1 is basically an idea on a piece of paper and 9 is the fully developed product. “I would like to see this project reach a level 3-4, before concluding if it is possible to explore further, and this might take us two to three years. ” Robert concludes.

Text: Cathrin Wisén

Photo: Mycronic

Published: 16 May 2022


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