Bray-born entrepreneur joins high-tech venture capital fund backed by Bill Gates

Conrad Burke, the Bray-born entrepreneur who previously founded Innovalight – a manufacturer of silicon ink for solar panels that was sold to DuPont – launched Meta VC Partners, a venture capital firm backed by Bill Gates and the former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold.

Francisco-based Meta VC is raising $ 100 million to invest in metamaterials – materials that have acoustic, electromagnetic, or other advanced properties at the micro or nanoscale, and are made from composite materials such than metal or plastic.

Their development began at Duke University in North Carolina – with whom Burke has worked and will continue to work closely – and at the University of California, San Diego.

Speaking to Independent Sunday, Burke said, “We aim to invest in four areas: first, imaging and sensors under development for autonomous driving, robotics and augmented reality. Second, wireless power and energy harvesting improvements in solar panels.

“Other high growth areas are faster optical computing technologies, where power consumption and processing speed are bottlenecks – and fourth, satellite and terrestrial communications networks. “

The company will invest anywhere from $ 2 million, with larger follow-up amounts. He has previously supported Neurophos, an optical AI chip company, and satellite communications company Mangata. Around 12 more investments are expected over the next 18 months.

Invention Science Fund, the incubator of Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures patent fund, where Burke previously worked, created two metamaterial companies – security firm Evolv Technologies and antenna maker Kymeta Corp.

Burke sold Innovalight to DuPont for around $ 60 million (€ 50 million) in 2011.

“It was probably the most enjoyable six years of my career. From pioneering research conducted at the universities of Minnesota and Texas, my team found a new way to improve solar panels using silicon nanomaterials.

“Building a startup is lonely and exhausting, with a lot of responsibilities, unknowns and an uncertain outcome – but it’s a lot of fun and very rewarding,” he said.


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