"We bring a new and worldwide industry to Eindhoven"
Mar 7, 2017 9:46:32 AM. By: High Tech Campus
Guido Groet is the CMO of the Dutch start-up Luxexcel, the only company in the world that has the technology to 3D print ophthalmic lenses for eyeglasses. Their technology aims to bring eyewear to a new level of cool.
Luxexcel’s breakthrough technology is in high demand with eyewear manufacturing companies all over the world. Recently the Dutch start-up decided to move their holding company to the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven (They also have a branche just across the border in Belgium).
We talked with CMO Guido Groet about their technology, business development and the choice to move to Eindhoven. And there’s an open invitation for business, so people in sensor technology start-ups, pay close attention.
What’s so great about 3D printing eyeglasses? “When I walk into an eyewear store, the first thing I notice is that all those glasses look alike. That’s because the technology has determined the product. Now you have one industry making lenses and another industry producing frames, and at the end they come together. By 3D printing lenses we can integrate lenses and frames in the manufacturing process to make unique eyeglasses. There are infinite possibilities, both technically and on the design side. We can integrate all sorts of cool technology into the lenses, like sensors, LCD screens and polarization filters. We can make sunglasses that become darker by tapping on the lenses, eyeglasses that change into reading glasses when you tilt your eyes, glasses on which you can project information, whatever the consumer wants.”
Why have you come to High Tech Campus Eindhoven? “We were located in Zeeland [the southwestern province of the Netherlands, HT] before, amid the oyster farmers. Not exactly a hub of technology. At High Tech Campus we’re in the middle of a tech hub, where we can find the people and partners we need. I’ve worked in Silicon Valley for many years, a sizzling environment, where business plans are made over lunch. It often works best when you can speak to people face to face. That’s why we’ve chosen the campus model. It’s these spontaneous contacts when you see someone over lunch or wander into a conference on campus and meet just the right person that has the solution you were looking for.”
And what are you bringing to Eindhoven? “A technology that is unique in the world, as we’re the only ones capable of doing this right now. All the big eyewear companies have displayed interest, including companies making VR and AR glasses. The Netherlands doesn’t have a history of eyeglasses manufacturing. So we are bringing an enormous, worldwide industry with us that our country didn’t have before.”
Could that be interesting for other start-ups? “Well, yes. A few weeks ago I did a presentation during the Integrated Electronics Conference, where I pitched for companies interested in working with us. People in the sensor making world immediately approached us, seeing possibilities for new applications. Because we bring sensors technology much closer to the end-user, I think many start-ups will jump at that opportunity. And let me also add that we want to attract the right people. We’re constantly looking for both technical and commercial people that can help us bring our technology to market.”
Is that a job offer? “Spontaneous reactions are always welcome. People can e-mail us.”
Where do you want to be five years from now? “First we want to take our technology into the eyeglasses industry by focusing on a specific niche, like making specialized glasses for people with eye defects. At the same time we want to develop our USPs and make these cool electric sunglasses with built in filters and sensors. We also want to produce GRIN or gradient index lenses, which can refract light despite being flat. GRIN lenses are the dream of every optician, but we’re able to manufacture them just by 3D printing different materials that change the refractive index and spreading them out over the lenses. And finally we want to break out with unique eyeglasses concepts that can only be made with our technology.”
That sounds ambitious. “Eyeglasses represent a 100 billion dollar industry. The market is still growing and is not even fully served. We have a unique product and we think we can really make a difference.”