Skeleton Technologies, Estonia-based manufacturer of graphene-enhanced supercapacitors, and Marubeni Corporation, one of Japan’s largest conglomerates, have signed a strategic cooperation agreement to support commercial scale-up and customer acquisition for Skeleton’s supercapacitors in the Asian automotive sector, with a strong focus on electrified vehicles and hydrogen transportation.
As part of this agreement, Marubeni Corporation also made an equity investment on top of the €41.3 million Series D financing round announced by Skeleton in November 2020. The sum of Marubeni’s investment was not disclosed.
The cooperation will primarily focus on the SuperBattery product line, which has 15-second charging capability and hundreds of thousands of deep charge/discharge cycles. In addition, Skeleton Technologies and Marubeni Corporation also aim to cooperate on new applications for curved graphene, Skeleton’s patented material enabling the company’s technological and competitive advantages.
“Enabling carbon-neutral electrification is a key priority for Marubeni Corporation. Skeleton Technologies fits perfectly in our portfolio as they fill the gap for high-power, extremely long high-cycles, and efficient energy storage devices,” said Masayuki Omoto, COO of Next Generation Business Development Division of Marubeni Corporation.
According to Omoto, Skeleton has validated its competitive advantage in real-life applications and has shown strong commercial traction. “We are delighted to back Skeleton because we see that, besides their technological advantage, they are going after scale as evidenced by their participation in the €3 billion ‘European Battery Innovation’ project alongside companies such as Tesla and BMW,” Omoto noted.
Skeleton Technologies is currently investing in technology development and scaling up a new product line for the automotive sector. The cooperation with Marubeni covers Asia, excluding China and India, and will offer new resources to commercialize Skeleton’s graphene-based SuperBattery. This new energy storage solution is the ideal complementary technology for lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, improving overall system efficiency and performance.
“Our cooperation [with Marubeni] will drive the Asian automotive market’s adoption of our technology in the near future as the cost down will be much faster than for lithium-ion batteries,” stated Taavi Madiberk, CEO and co-founder of Skeleton Technologies.
While having a strong focus on the expanding electrified and hydrogen-based transportation market, Skeleton and Marubeni will also cooperate on new applications of Skeleton’s patented curved graphene material, the key enabling technology behind Skeleton’s supercapacitors’ performance advantage.
“We have been cooperating with Marubeni for many years in introducing Estonian tech companies for investment purposes,” noted Kaspar Kork, Director of Estonian Investment Agency, which helped to land the Japanese investment in Estonia. “This is an extremely important investment for the Estonian CleanTech sector, which will open up the Asian market to Skeleton. Skeleton is a good example of how the combination of business experience and science creates synergy in Estonia, leading a company started as a spin-off and its unique product to the world market,” Kork added.
Skeleton works with some of the largest companies in the world – from leading Tier One automotive firms and industrial equipment OEMs to truck fleet operators and aerospace prime contractors – to decrease CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, to improve power quality and protect equipment and infrastructure from power peaks, and to power electrification to fight climate change.
Skeleton Technologies Group has three main locations: its manufacturing in Großröhrsdorf, Saxony, Germany, materials development in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Saxony-Anhalt and electrical engineering in Tallinn, Estonia. From its foundation in 2009, the company has grown from 4 to more than 140 people.
“We established Marubeni Corporation Tallinn Office in 2019 to find investment and collaboration opportunities in Estonia. Estonia has one of the densest startup ecosystems around the world with many unique valued technology companies and supportive enablers like Estonian Investment Agency. We believe this strategic cooperation with Skeleton will be a good case of collaboration between Estonian companies and us, adding value through the cooperation,” said Takao Fukuoka, General Manager of Marubeni Corporation Tallinn Office.