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First startup from Brainport-Waterloo collaboration: SLE Enterprises

Enveloping liquid materials normally requires a polymer containing microplastics. The technology of SLE, the new resident of hub Alpha, needs no such material.

The ecosystems around Waterloo University (Canada) and Brainport Eindhoven have been linked for several years, with the main goal of learning from each other's groundbreaking technologies. As a new step in this collaboration, a start-up based on technology from Waterloo has been established in Eindhoven.

SLE Enterprises BV is built on the breakthrough technology of "scalable liquid encapsulation" (SLE). Normally, to encapsulate any cargo, such as a liquid medication, you need a polymer that contains microplastics. SLE's technology does not require such a material - it uses liquid/liquid encapsulation. SLE is exploring several industries to work with: food, beverages and confectionery, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

To bring this new encapsulation technology to market, SLE founder Professor Sushanta Mitra collaborated with WatCo, the Commercialization Office of the University of Waterloo. "We saw an opportunity in the EU market because our technology makes the use of microplastics obsolete. SLE Enterprises' technology allows a customer to continue using a high-quality product, but without the plastics in the casing. We have been working with Brainport for some time, so setting up the start-up in Eindhoven was a logical choice." SLE Enterprise will operate from the Alpha building on the TU/e Campus in Eindhoven.

EU market
Scalable liquid encapsulation is a technology that fits the needs of the European market, Mitra explains. "The EU is already fully focused on removing microplastics in products. And Eindhoven has a strong deep-tech start-up ecosystem with an excellent manufacturing industry to build our encapsulation machines." For Mitra and his team, these were the main reasons for settling in the Brainport region. But there was more: "Brainport Development is now looking with us at linking some of our technologies to EU requirements. Brainport also helped us well in obtaining office space, getting in touch with the right stakeholders to scale up the technology, and setting up the Dutch BV."

Entrepreneurship and innovation are in the DNA of the University of Waterloo, says Mitra. "We have a unique policy around intellectual property: 'creator-owned intellectual property.' This allows professors like myself to develop technology and translate it into a commercial business outside the university. It's exciting to see how my research work can be translated into value-added products and services." Mitra continues his research alongside his work for SLE Enterprises. "Hopefully more innovations will come out of that."

SLE Enterprises is the first Dutch start-up established, with WatCo holding a stake in the company. "It was a learning experience for us, and we hope it will provide opportunities for other University of Waterloo start-ups to look to the Dutch innovation ecosystem to enable access to the EU market and beyond," said Scott Inwood, director of commercialization at WatCo.