Only Irish Nanotech firm pursues €5m investment

23 Mar 2004

Ireland’s only nanotechnology firm NTera is understood to be close to completing a €5m private equity round. The round, which follows on last year’s €3m fundraising last summer, will bring total investment in the former UCD campus company to around €25m to date.

NTera, formerly known as Nanomat, employs 45 people in Ireland and Switzerland and is headquartered in Stillorgan. In 2001, the company acquired Swiss battery technology firm Xoliox in 2001 for around €4m in cash and shares. The company was established on UCD campus in 1997 to develop and commercialise nanomaterials; tiny computers that are up to 100,000 times thinner than the average human hair and which can be used in a variety of industrial and medical applications.

NTera is focusing on developing the next generation of computer displays, and is working on a new screen technology called nano-chromics which it is envisaged will replace existing LCD screens. The company’s particular forte will be in “smart windows” that can darken or lighten electronically and on long-life battery technology.

As well as the Swiss operation, it is understood that NTera has also established a manufacturing operation in Taiwan that will focus on developing and manufacturing future LCD displays for watches, clocks, calculators, while the Dublin operation develops large displays such as information signs and clocks for railway stations and shopping centres.

Existing investors in NTera include Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Evolution Beeson Gregory, the Co-Investment Fund and Crucible.

The current fundraising is being led by London private equity house Doughty Hanson, which will invest a significant sum in NTera as a first time investment in the company.

By John Kennedy