citybiz+ Pixelligent Leverages IP to Raise $38 Million for Accelerated Commercialization by 2023

Pixelligent Technologies has raised $38 million in growth capital on the strength of its intellectual property assets, which help it create a set of artificial metal oxide materials with advanced use cases in modern applications such as augmented reality, virtual reality and 5G.

New York-based MVolution Partners, whose cofounder Michael Weinmann is a Johns Hopkins alum, provided the non-dilutive funding, with insurance and valuation services from Aon.

“It’s a tremendous validation of our technology and a tribute to our incredible team,” CEO Craig Bandes, who has led the Baltimore-based Pixelligent since 2009, said in a LinkedIn post. “Thanks to Pixelligent’s award-winning manufacturing platform, nearly 90 patents, and dozens of trade secrets, we were able to secure attractive debt financing at a pivotal moment in Pixelligent’s growth trajectory,” he said in a release.

Pixelligent, which has previously raised about $45 million in equity funding from investors including The Abell Foundation, expects to use the funds to bring “numerous mass-production applications to market in 2023 and beyond.”

“Innovation is a critical ingredient for the growth economy, but intellectual property is its foundation,” said Lewis Lee, CEO of Aon’s Intellectual Property Solutions.

Finance Mavens

MVolution Partners, established in 2021, provides growth capital solutions — both equity and debt — from $1 million to $100 million to healthcare and technology companies. Mike Weinmann, who studied engineering at Johns Hopkins, and former Morgan Stanley executive Vincent Van Heyste serve as founding partners. Weinmann and Van Heyste worked together at Morgan Stanley. Both lived in Europe for a number of years.

Van Heyste served in Morgan Stanley’s European M&A team, besides running his family businesses in airline catering and real estate business, building beachfront residences in Seychelles. He also spent three years as a non-executive board director and member of the risk and credit committee of Nouvobanq, Seychelles’ largest bank. Van Heyste also served as the chief operating officer of the portfolio team at HgCapital, a European software-focused middle-market private equity firm.

Weinmann has 22 years of experience managing private investment funds and has been involved in deals worth $3.6 billion. For over a decade, he was a partner and investment committee member of CRG, a healthcare investment firm. Prior to CRG, Weinmann worked in Morgan Stanley’s Global Capital Markets division, specializing in debt financing and monetization of IP.

Pixelligent’s Board Members

Pixelligent’s board members include Eileen M. O’Rourke, treasurer of The Abell Foundation and chief operating officer of OTEC International, and Andrew Ray, an M&A expert. O’Rourke is a 30-year industry veteran with over a decade’s experience in innovative financing and in managing direct investments in early-stage companies. Ray led a team that represented Oculus VR in its $2 billion sale to Facebook, which was rated the M&A Deal of the Year in 2014 by M&A Advisor.

Early Backer

Abell Foundation was among the early investors in Pixelligent. In line with its long-term goal of advancing Baltimore’s growth, the foundation not only makes philanthropic grants but also makes direct investments in innovative startups that create jobs and advance the city’s growth. Currently, its portfolio of startups includes over 30 firms, including Armr, Crystalline Medical and Vita Therapeutics. Its recent investments include SIMPLi, ReGelTec, Spine Align and NextStep Robotics

‘Designer Compounds’

Craig Bandes has piloted Pixelligent for the past 13 years, plotting its course in advanced technology, developing of a range of products and winning U.S. grants worth over $20 million from the Departments of Defense and Energy.

Pixelligent first built technology to manufacture artificial equivalents of a broad set of metal oxide materials found in nature. It then leveraged that technology to create “designer compounds” with desired qualities and unique applications. Its PixClear, PixNIL and PixJet range of products are high-refractive index formulations and materials that can be leveraged for use in advanced electronics products, such as AR/MR devices, OLED/Mini and MicroLED displays, optical/Lidar sensors and industrial applications. Each sets different performance standards in terms of brightness, clarity, operating efficiencies, and device-lifetime.

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Its materials, for example, provide the widest field of view in AR and VR, Pixelligent claims. In OLED and microLED applications, its products significantly increase light output and display efficiency, while in optical sensor applications, the company’s materials enable multiple form factors.

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Pixelligent operates a 18,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art pilot manufacturing and laboratory facility in Baltimore, and sales offices in the Republic of Korea and Taiwan. In 2017, he was recognized as the Manufacturer of the Year by the Frost & Sullivan Manufacturing Leadership Council.

Prior to Pixelligent, Bandes was the president and CEO of Global Secure Corp., a high-tech company focused on homeland security solutions. He chairs the Technology Committee for the Greater Baltimore Committee, and is a member of the NanoBusiness Allliance Advisory Board. Bandes has degrees in finance and entrepreneurship from Babson College.