In December the World Economic Forum announced the selection of 30 ground-breaking companies as Technology Pioneers for 2004. The Technology Pioneers programme – run in conjunction with Apax Partners and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu – is part of the Forum’s commitment to supporting and identifying unique technology innovations. It also underlines the Forum’s desire to encourage real discussion about science and technology and the boundaries and ethical implications involved in research and innovation. The companies selected are divided into three key fields: biotechnology; energy/environmental technologies; and IT/telecom/nanotechnology. This is who they are, what they do and how they are changing our lives

Biotechnology

Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc, Canada
Representative: Dr William Hunter, founder, president and chief executive officer Angiotech is developing products based on paclitaxel, the successful anticancer drug developed in the 1960s. Angiotech’s PAXSEED drug aims to take advantage of paclitaxel’s anti-inflammatory properties to treat rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis. The firm is also developing surgical products coated with paclitaxel that will help prevent restenosis (scarring) after vascular, ophthalmic and other kinds of surgery.

AnthroTronix Inc, United States
Representative: Dr Corinna Lathan, founder and chief executive officer AnthroTronix’s core technology is in the area of advanced interfaces for wearable computers and robotic control systems. AnthroTronix is a leader in the development of gestural (movement-based) interfaces that combine wearable sensors with voice-activation to control electronic devices via gestures or body movements. In 2002, AnthroTronix established its rehabilitation products division to develop a line of products that utilize the company’s core technology to address the therapeutic, motivational and educational needs of children with disabilities.

CK Life Sciences International Inc, China
Representative: Dr S F Pang, chief technology officer CK Life Sciences is engaged in identifying needs and developing revolutionary biotechnology solutions for the improvement of human health and environmental sustainability. It focuses on developing patent-protected products that provide new and improved solutions in sustainable land and water use, disease prevention and treatment, nutritional balance and skin care. CK Life Sciences’ work primarily involves the application of scientifically advanced methods and processes by which selected microbes, particularly yeasts, with undiscovered potential are activated and acclimatized to perform specific functions in either the human body or the natural environment.

Gilead Sciences Inc, United States
Representative: Dr John Martin, president and chief executive officer Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes therapeutics to advance the care of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases worldwide. The company has seven marketed products and focuses its research and clinical programmes on anti-infectives. Bestseller Viread is an HIV therapy used with other antiretrovirals and is approved in the US and Europe. Other products on the market are: DaunoXome, a treatment for Kaposi’s sarcoma; AmBisome, used to treat systemic fungal infections, such as those that accompany Aids; Vistide, to treat eye infections (and maybe even smallpox); and hepatitis B antiviral Hepsera. The firm’s pipeline includes a more potent form of Viread.

OmniSonics Medical Technologies Inc, United States
Representative: Robert Rabiner, president and chief executive officer OmniSonics Medical Technologies is focused on bringing breakthrough products for vascular occlusive disease to market. These products are based on the Company’s patented OmniWave Technology, which uses acoustic energy to resolve rapidly and safely occlusive material (blood clots) into micro-particles approximately the size of red blood cells.

Optobionics Corp, United States
Representative: Dr Alan Chow, co-founder and chief executive officer Optobionics is developing technology to treat two severe retinal diseases, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP), that are major causes of blindness. The Artificial Silicon Retina™ product, which is currently in clinical trials, converts light energy into electrical signals that stimulate the remaining, live cells in the eye to restore, at least partially in early tests, a patient’s vision.

Procognia Ltd, United Kingdom Representative: Ron Long, chief executive officer and chairman Procognia is committed to exploiting the ever-expanding knowledge of proteins to increase the quality of biopharmaceuticals and small molecule therapeutics and thereby the quality of medical care. Procognia is focusing on two enabling protein array-based technologies: rapid glycoanalysis and protein function arrays. These technologies will set new standards of scale, sensitivity, specificity and accuracy in glycoanalysis and proteomic analysis within the pharmaceutical industry.

Regeneration Technologies Inc, United States
Representative: Brian Hutchison, chairman, president and chief executive officer Regeneration Technologies is a leader in tissue-based innovations that are used to repair and promote the natural healing of human bone and other human tissues. RTI processes human musculoskeletal and other tissues, including bone, cartilage, tendon, ligament, pericardial and cardiovascular tissue in producing allograft implants. Surgeons then implant these allografts to repair a wide variety of bone and other tissue defects, including spinal vertebrae repair, musculoskeletal reconstruction, fracture repair, periodontal repair, urinary incontinence and heart valve disorders.

Syrrx Inc, United States Representative: Dr Stephen Kaldor, chief scientific officer Syrrx is a drug discovery company redefining the way medicines are discovered. The company is at the forefront of rational drug discovery and is currently directing its efforts toward developing therapeutics to treat cancer, metabolic diseases and inflammation. Syrrx leverages high-throughput structure determination, screening, combinatorial and medicinal chemistry together with computational methods to discover novel small-molecule drug leads. In combination, these proprietary technologies form a unique “gene to drug” platform enabling parallel drug discovery programmes.

Viral Genomix Pharmaceuticals Inc, United States
Representative: Dr J Joseph Kim, co-founder, president and chief executive officer VGX Pharmaceuticals is a drug development company developing a novel class of drugs for the treatment of HIV, cancer, and inflammatory diseases. VGX Pharma- ceuticals has built a potent intellectual property estate around viruses’ ability to control cell function. Viruses control the cells they infect by expressing specific viral proteins or gene products. These viral proteins are extremely potent, well-honed tools, which bind to specific human receptors to regulate cell function. VGX Pharmaceuticals’ extensive IP and Technology positions on viral proteins and their human cellular receptors allowed the team effectively to screen and select drug candidates to treat a variety of infectious diseases.

Zyomyx Inc, United States
Representative: Dr Peter Wagner, chief technology officer and board member Zyomyx is an innovator in the development and commercialization of proprietary protein analysis platforms based on the company’s expertise in biological, biochemical and material science technologies. The company’s initial product offerings, the Zyomyx Protein Profiling Biochip System and the Human Cytokine Biochip, have already significantly advanced the field of advanced protein analysis by providing the first ready to use, automated and validated multiplexed platform for protein profiling. The applications for Zyomyx’s biochip products extend throughout the drug discovery and development process, including validation of therapeutic targets and biomarkers, selection of drug candidates and evaluation of the effects of drugs in pre-clinical and clinical studies.

Energy/Environmental Technologies

Hydrogenics Corp, Canada
Representative: Pierre Rivard, co-founder, president and chief executive officer The company makes industrial-grade proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell automated test stations. Hydrogenics markets the test stations under the FCATS name and sells them to companies for use in fuel cell systems and materials development. It is also developing fuel cells that can deliver reliable, uninterrupted power in harsh weather conditions and a fuel cell for powering a military device that detects chemical and biological agents in the field.

Medis Technologies Ltd, United States
Representative: Robert Lifton, chairman and chief executive officer Medis Technologies is developing advanced proprietary technologies to satisfy the worldwide demand for cleaner and more efficient energy. Medis is applying the accumulated knowledge of leading Russian-Israeli scientists and cutting-edge technology developed for military use to create its breakthrough proprietary products. The company’s product pipeline, in varying stages of development, includes individual fuel cells for portable electronics and a new engine with greater fuel efficiency.

Nanomix Inc, United States
Representative: Dr George Gruner, chief scientist Nanomix was founded to develop and commercialize nanotechnology breakthroughs in electronics and materials science. Today, Nanomix’s world-class team of scientists and engineers are developing hydrogen storage systems using nanostructured adsorbents and the first generation of commercial nanoelectronics.

IT/Telecom/ Nanotechnology

Alien Technology Corp, United States
Representative: Dr Stav Prodromou, chief executive officer Alien Technology has developed and holds exclusive patent rights to a manufacturing assembly technology called Fluidic Self Assembly (FSA™). This technology allows for the efficient placement of exceptionally large numbers of small components across a surface in a single operation. FSA™ has numerous potential uses. The company plans to use the technology first to manufacture very low cost RFID tags and subsequently to address other potential markets such as antennas, sensors and electronic displays.

Corvil Networks Ltd, Ireland
Representative: Donal Byrne, chief executive officer Corvil Networks is an emerging leader in the development of solutions for the precise control and management of quality of service and bandwidth in modern packet networks. The company has developed unique intellectual property in this space based on many years of fundamental mathematical research and development. Corvil manufactures network management and OSS products for sale to international service providers and large enterprises.

Imagen Inc, United States
Representative: Pamela Lipson, founder, president and chief executive officer Imagen’s primary product is a series of computer vision software packages that allow computers to recognize objects and perform some of the same analytical object validation assessments that human vision systems do naturally. In addition, the Imagen systems must perform beyond the capability of human vision systems for tasks such as visually assessing microscopic objects that cannot be seen with the unaided eye and making precise measurements on these objects. The first instantiation of the company’s technology is in a Teradyne manufacturing system which is used in the assembly of printed circuit boards at the heart of virtually every consumer electronic good.

Inframat Corp, United States
Representative: Dr David Reisner, chief executive officer Inframat produces high-density and high-surface-area nanostructured materials including nanophase nickel hydroxide and nanophase manganese dioxide. It is also a developer of nanostructured materials for wear-resistant and thermal-barrier coatings and bulk consolidated materials.

MagiQ Technologies Inc, United States
Representative: Bob Gelfond, chief executive officer MagiQ Technologies is a pioneer in converting quantum information processing opportunities into real-world implementations. MagiQ has assembled a group of scientific collaborators to provide the company with early insight into the latest developments in related research.

mnemoScience GmbH, Germany
Representative: Professor Andreas Lendlein, managing director mnemoScience’s activities concentrate on the development of a novel family of shape-memory polymers with extremely broad application potential. Independent of their present, temporary shape, these materials can also memorize a second, permanent shape. They are automatically transformed into this permanent shape when exposed to a suitable external stimulus, such as a temperature change.

Nanosys Inc, United States
Representative: Larry Bock, co-founder, president and chief executive officer Nanosys is a rapidly growing advanced technology company, leading the burgeoning nanotechnology industry, through the development of nano-enabled systems. These systems incorporate novel and patent-protected nanostructures that integrate functional complexity directly into each individual nanoparticle, enabling the low cost fabrication of revolutionary high-value, high-performance applications in a broad range of industries from life and physical sciences, to information technology and communications, to renewable energy and defence.

Nantero Inc, United States
Representative: Dr Thomas Rueckes, co-founder and chief scientific officer Nantero is building a high density nonvolatile random access memory chip, which can replace DRAM (dynamic RAM), SRAM (static RAM), flash memory and ultimately hard disk storage – in other words a universal memory chip suitable for countless existing and new applications in the field of electronics. The target markets in aggregate exceed $100 billion in revenue per year. Nantero’s product is called NRAM™ (Nanotube-based/Nonvolatile RAM), developed using proprietary concepts and methods derived from the latest research in nanotechnology.

OTB Group BV, The Netherlands
Representative: Ron Kok, founder OTB is commercialising a newly developed in-line production machine for P-led flat screens, which will be a breakthrough technology both for the production system as well as for the new product itself. OTB is also designing a new in-line system for AM-TFT-LCD displays, with a newly designed and patented handling system called “Clean track” crucial for avoiding clean room operation, which will bring down manufacturing costs, investment and manpower.

Plastic Logic Ltd, United Kingdom
Representative: Stuart Evans, chief executive officer Plastic Logic is a leading developer of plastic electronics technology. It combines the power of electronics with the pervasiveness of printing to put electronics where you want, when you want. The company’s technology has the potential to radically change the economics of key segments of the electronics industry. It will make plastic electronics prevalent in markets where the attributes of large area, flexibility, robustness, customisability and ultra-low cost are paramount.

Red-M Communications Ltd, United Kingdom
Representative: Karl Feilder, president and chief executive officer The company is a pioneer of advanced mobile commerce solutions and is focused on enabling next generation mobile data, voice and video services in the workplace, home and public concourses. Red-M is developing wireless internet server products that allow mobile access to the internet and intranet from a wide range of devices including PCs, mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), wireless application protocol (WAP) smart phones and other emerging appliances.

Seeing Machines Pty Ltd, Australia
Representative: Dr Alex Zelinsky, chief executive officer Seeing Machines is an award winning technology company focused on vision-based human/machine interfaces. The company develops technology that provides head, pose, gaze direction and eyelid closure tracking. This has revolutionized gaze tracking technology and has enormous market potential to change forever the way humans and machines interact. Current applications for the technology are within the automotive industry.

Solid Technologies Inc, Korea
Representative: Dr Joon Chung, founder and chief executive officer Solid Technologies has successfully developed innovative solutions based on its digital signal processing, fibre optics, and RF technologies for wireless operators such as SK Telecom and KTF, the two major CDMA operators in Korea. The company’s product line includes wireless repeaters for in-building coverage, high power hybrid fibre coax distributions systems and digital fibre optic repeater systems.

Sonim Technologies Inc, United States
Representative: John Burns, president and chief executive officer Sonim Technologies enables today’s wireless data networks to deliver high-margin voice services. This standards-based solution provides real-time communication services such as Push-To-Talk that combine the flexibility of mobile messaging with the ease-of-use of voice. The end-to-end, IP-based solution creates significant new revenue streams and delivers superior ‘return on bandwidth’ for mobile operators.

Teraview Ltd, United Kingdom
Representative: Dr Don Arnone, chief executive officer TeraView was spun out of Toshiba Research Europe to exploit the intellectual property and expertise developed in sourcing and detecting Terahertz (1012Hz=THz) radiation, using innovative semiconductor technologies. Terahertz radiation lies between microwave and infrared and represents the last unexplored region of the radio wave and light spectrum. TeraView has identified target markets and customers for the technology in the areas of security and contraband detection, medical imaging, and drug discovery and formulation. New application areas are also currently under consideration.

UTStarcom Inc, United States
Representative: Hong Liang Lu, founder, president and chief executive officer The UTStarcom mSwitch™ platform represents the emerging generation of telecom switching that satisfies the need for cost-effective, flexible, and highly scalable network solutions. By supporting PSTN and softswitch protocols, the mSwitch seamlessly bridges the gap between existing circuit-switched platform and next-generation packet-switched network architecture.