GM, Itochu Technology Ventures Take Stakes in Battery Company Sakti3

Sakti3, Inc., an Ann Arbor-based developer of next-generation lithium-ion batteries, announced the combined investment of $4.2M by General Motors Ventures ($3.2 million) and Itochu Technology Ventures to advance the firm’s manufacturing capabilities. (Earlier post.) The companies also plan to work together to speed commercialization of Sakti3 battery cells. The two, new strategic investors join previous investors Khosla Ventures and Beringea.

Sakti3, led by Dr. Ann Marie Sastry of the University of Michigan, is commercializing high performance solid-state batteries that are produced using a novel manufacturing process that has been developed by the company. Sakti3 was founded in 2007 as a spin-out of the University of Michigan to commercialize methods of designing and making micromachined batteries and hybrid power supplies, and has been supported to date by Khosla Ventures and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Sakti3 has a world-wide exclusive license for patents related to University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) File Nos. 3633 (“Micromachined Deposited Battery”; Sastry and Fabiano Albano) and 3668 (“Hybrid Battery Supply for EV, HEV or PHEV”; Sastry, Chia-Wei Wang, Kimberly An Cook-Chennault) for all fields of use.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sakti3 has an exclusive royalty-bearing license with the right to grant sublicenses. The University retains ownership of the licensed technology and may continue to further develop it and use it internally.

Sastry and her colleagues have so far filed for five US patents with Sakti3 as the assignee:

  • 20100138072: Control of Cells, Modules and a Pack Comprised of Hybridized Electrochemistries
  • 20100136245: Method for Manufacture and Structure of Multiple Electrochemistries and Energy Gathering Components Within a Unified Structure
  • 20100035152: Electrochemical Cell Including Functionally Graded and Architectured Components and Methods
  • 20090326696: Computational Method for Design and Manufacture of Electrochemical Systems
  • 20090325063: Method for High-Volume Manufacture of Electrochemical Cells Using Physical Vapor Deposition

These investments by General Motors Ventures and Itochu Technology Ventures bring us not only capital, but partnerships that will speed our commercialization efforts. Our product planning in the automotive and portables sectors will be accelerated by working with these two preeminent firms. The General Motors agreement partners us with a company that is clearly a global leader in vehicle electrification. Itochu Technology Ventures has a strong focus on energy technologies, and on growth markets in Asia. We’re very pleased to have engaged investors who will help us purposefully and quickly create our target products and address key regional markets.

—Dr. Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of Sakti3

In addition to being a key investor in Li-ion battery company Ener1, Itochu is also forming a joint venture with Kureha Corporation to produce and sell lithium-ion anode materials in the US to Ener1 subsidiary EnerDel.

GM Ventures is making strategic investments in new technology to support our core automotive business. Our objective is to identify start-up companies that offer the best future technology for our vehicles, including next generation propulsion systems. In this case, our investment in Sakti3 gives us access to an innovative battery technology that has the potential to be a mainstream solution for electrically-driven cars and trucks of the future.

—Jon Lauckner, president GM Ventures, LLC

Sakti3 was awarded a $3 million grant from The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in 2009 and has been designated as a State of Michigan Center of Energy Excellence (CoEE) in partnership with the University of Michigan. (Earlier post.)

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