A Better Business Model
Enovix was conceived with a conviction that building a better battery involves more than just technology; it requires a new business model with ownership of intellectual property (IP) and direct production control. Since 2012, we’ve submitted over 55 patent applications and been awarded 24. Because we’re scaling production now, we will reap the rewards of proprietary design and production patent protection for decades to come.
In February 2014, we moved into our headquarters with a wafer fabrication facility in Fremont, California, and began pilot production of our 3D silicon lithium-ion battery. We’re presently securing a fabrication plant near SunPower production sites in Manila, Philippines, where we will install standard solar-cell fabrication equipment for high-volume battery production. We’re on track to scale production in 2017, with a target to reach commercialization by the end of the year. Ownership of IP and production will enable us to create and sustain enterprise value for years to come.
Keeping a Low Profile…Until Now
Over the past decade, there has been a parade of high-profile battery startups announced with great fanfare, often proclaiming a new battery technology “breakthrough.” Many of the initial claims have not materialized, and none of the companies have reached commercialization. In fact, many have abandoned the goal of commercialization and radically restructured from product production to technology development and licensing.
We’ve taken a very different path. We remained in stealth mode from 2007 until earlier this year, methodically and deliberately progressing from proof-of-concept to development and pilot production without publicity. While our public profile was low, we began engaging with major mobile device producers several years ago, keeping them up-to-date on our progress. As analyst firms became of aware of us and began to request briefings, we realized it was time to emerge from stealth. In April 2016, we began to raise our profile as The Wall Street Journal featured us in an article.
This series started in response to a reader’s comment as to why it is taking so long for us to commercialize our 3D Silicon™ Lithium-ion Battery. I cited a couple of relevant comparisons. First, it took 12 years from the breakthrough discovery by John Goodenough until Sony commercialized the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery in 1991. Second, it took 15 years or longer for IC, LED and LCD technology to progress from invention through photolithography and wafer production to commercialization for the computing, lighting and display applications essential to modern mobile devices.
Enovix began with a vision and conviction that Li-ion chemistry was capable of providing significantly greater energy density much more safely. But the outdated design and production techniques borrowed from audio cassette tape needed to be replaced. We have demonstrated that patented 3D architecture with modern photolithography and wafer production can liberate the full capacity of Li-ion chemistry for increased energy density and improved safety.
Our vision was not limited to technology. It’s not unusual for a pioneering company to bring an innovative new technology-based product to market, only to lose its lead to other companies that prove more capable of scaling product production. So we secured strategic partnerships with industry leaders Cypress Semiconductor, Intel and Qualcomm—companies that helped us meet critical capabilities in technology, product design and production, and business operations, as well as provide significant funding for development and production. And we own our IP and control our production to create and sustain enterprise value for years to come.
We are on track to progress from concept to commercialization of a brand new Li-ion battery product and platform in about a decade. While that may seem like a long time, comparatively we think it’s pretty darn good.