By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Strategic partnerships with other companies are an important way for start-ups to grow their enterprises as represented by yesterday’s announcement from Knoxville’s Eonix LLC.
On the same day that he was pitching at the all-virtual “2022 DeepTechU Conference,” Don DeRosa, Eonix Chief Executive Officer, announced an exclusive collaboration with Schrödinger Inc. to accelerate the discovery and design of materials for safer, energy dense lithium-ion batteries.
Schrödinger is contributing the equivalent of more than $5 million in software, computer time, and services annually to support the collaboration. In exchange, New York-headquartered Schrödinger received an initial equity stake in Eonix and will be eligible to receive additional equity upon the successful completion of technical milestones during the collaboration.
During the three-year collaboration, Schrödinger will develop physics-based and machine learning models leveraging the comprehensive and chemically diverse database generated from Eonix’s rapid, semi-autonomous materials screening ATLAS-system to enable 100,000’s of chemical candidates to be accurately computationally screened. The Eonix technology reduces timelines for energy storage materials design from years to months.
According to yesterday’s news release (Eonix LLC_Schrödinger Release), the Schrödinger-developed models will be deployed in conjunction with the ATLAS-system to identify low cost, industrially-available compounds that improve the safety, temperature stability, energy density, and charging rate of both conventional and anode-free lithium ion batteries for grid storage, consumer electronics, defense, and electric vehicle applications.
“Schrödinger is the ideal partner to accelerate our lithium-ion battery materials design and discovery,” DeRosa (pictured right) said. “Schrödinger’s physics-based platform and expertise complements our rapid, semi-autonomous materials screening ATLAS-system. Schrödinger will be able to use rapidly generated lab data from Eonix’s ATLAS-system combined with physics-based predictions to develop and iteratively train robust machine learning models that will ultimately identify next generation materials for better batteries. This collaboration marks the first time a rapid materials screening lab-based technology will be paired with rapid computational screening technology in the battery industry to supercharge materials discovery.”
DeRosa, a New York native and graduate of the State University of New York at Albany graduate with a doctorate in nanoscience, brought the then named Eonix Energy to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2018 to participate in Cohort 2 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program. In late 2019, he was named to the “Forbes 30 Under 30” cohort for 2020, joined the inaugural cohort of the “Spark Innovation Center” operated by the University of Tennessee Research Park in late 2020, and was a finalist in 2021 in the inaugural “Ballard Innovation Award” sponsored by PYA, the power behind teknovation.biz.
“Designing safer, less expensive, and more effective batteries is a critical challenge, and we are excited to collaborate with the Eonix team to apply our platform at scale to develop the next generation of lithium-ion batteries,” said Mat Halls, Senior Vice President for Materials Science at Schrödinger.
The collaboration will be conducted jointly by the Schrödinger and Eonix scientific teams.