Nuclera acquires E Ink digital microfluidics unit

Rebecca Kuo, Taipei; Rodney Chan, DIGITIMES Asia

UK-based biotech firm Nuclera has announced it has acquired Taiwan-based E Ink Holdings (EIH)'s digital microfluidics unit to form its US subsidiary.

Combining the technologies of the two companies will enable the delivery of a desktop protein and gene "bioprinter" with breakthrough speed and convenience for researchers in human health, agriculture, and other markets of global importance, said Nuclear.

Nuclera has been working in a strategic partnership with EIH since 2018 to deploy Nuclera's proprietary biopolymer synthesis technologies on EIH's digital microfluidic devices.

Instead of the physical channels found in conventional microfluidics, digital microfluidics uses electronic signals to guide microdroplets, according to Nuclera. When combined with Nuclera biopolymer synthesis, this advanced lab-on-a-chip technology will enable a user to digitally program the next day bioprinting of proteins and genes on a desktop device. The result is a bioprinter that gives unprecedented access to biology. Commercialization is expected in 2022, the company said.

In the transaction, EIH will contribute intellectual property, equipment, and highly specialized scientists and engineers. Reciprocally, EIH will become the largest strategic shareholder in Nuclera. The resulting Nuclera US subsidiary will be co-located within the E Ink Innovation Center in Billerica, Massachusetts, a short distance from the growing biotech technology hub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The combination of these two efforts into one company will further increase the rate of development, commercialization, and adoption of this ground-breaking product as well as consolidate the intellectual property position. EIH will continue to be a strategic supplier to Nuclera for key electronic components of Nuclera's desktop bioprinter.

Michael Chen, co-founder and CEO of Nuclera, said, "Our partner, E Ink, made reading accessible by printing words with electronic ink. We are proud to work with E Ink to make biology accessible by printing biology with digital microfluidics. This acquisition allows Nuclera to combine the biological with the digital in one product and under one roof. We now look forward to further strengthening our strategic partnership with E Ink through joint R&D, manufacturing, and product development projects."

Michael McCreary, chief innovation officer of E Ink, said, "This spinout and ongoing relationship with Nuclera gives E Ink the opportunity to leverage our knowledge and capabilities in electronic paper technology into the growing biotechnology sector which has increasingly critical importance to the current and future challenges in global health and sustainability. We are pleased to be able to participate in this market through an equity stake in Nuclera and look forward to the continuing relationship as a strategic supplier to and equity partner with Nuclera."

Nuclera desktop bioprinter powered by digital microfluidic technology

Nuclera desktop bioprinter powered by digital microfluidic technology
Photo: Company