Filling the innovation gap

IniLabs was founded in 2009 as a spin-off of the Institute of Neuroinformatics (INI). Its mission is to transform promising neurotechnologies into useful applications by overcoming the innovation gap that often exists between interesting research technologies and useful products. IniLabs is interested in hearing from other groups within the ZNZ with innovative technologies that could have commercial applications.

“The reason we founded iniLabs is that the Sensors Group at INI had developed a technology that generated wide interest, but we could not find a suitable incubator partner that had combined technical, business and IP management knowledge”, says Dr. Kynan Eng, one of the Directors of iniLabs. “Because we wanted to promote the general field as well as specific applications, we decided to create iniLabs as a long-term vehicle for overcoming the innovation gap also with our future products.”
IniLabs has a unique and novel combination of strengths. Firstly, it works very closely with its partners, even shares office spaces, for optimal exchange of expertise and rapid development. Secondly, iniLabs engages in community-building to increase the long-term dissemination of neurotechnology. Thirdly, although iniLabs is a private company, profits are re-invested into the further expansion of the technology user community.

Promotion of innovative technologies
Inilabs pursues a combination of technical and business-related activities to fulfil its mission. These include technology promotion, engineering & development and technology transfer. Depending on the partner, iniLabs works using a mixture of contract work, joint grant applications, royalties and equity. With the University of Zurich, for instance, inilabs promotes the technology for the Dynamic Vision Sensor (DVS), a completely new way of machine vision. Furthermore, iniLabs provided the DVS hardware and interfacing for the IBM TrueNorth chip, a highly innovative neuromorphic processor, in a project funded by IBM and DARPA.

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Image: TrueNorth processor board from IBM. Each TrueNorth chip has 4096 cores, 1 million artificial neurons and 256 million synapses implemented using 5.4 billion transistors.
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