Matthew Cohen

Matthew Cohen

Associate, Pangaea Ventures Ltd. Matt holds an MPhil in Micro- & Nanotechnology Enterprise from the University of Cambridge and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a BSE in Materials Science & Engineering.View Matthew Cohen's profile on LinkedIn

Five years ago, Marc Andreessen famously wrote that “software is eating the world” in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal. It’s hard to argue with the observation as we’ve continued to see the proliferation of big software-driven disruptions in diverse industries ranging from transportation (e.g. Lyft, Uber, etc.) to media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to insurance (e.g. Epic Systems, Zenefits, etc.).

Autonomous driving is no exception. The two largest companies in the world today by market cap, Apple and Alphabet (Google), are both primarily software companies and both of them are working on ushering in a new era of self-driving mobility. Combined with Tesla, Uber, and many of the automotive OEMs, a whole lot of people are working hard to optimize the algorithms and control software to improve safety, widen the acceptable operating conditions, and make better/faster actionable observations from the plethora of data from autonomous vehicle’s suite of sensors. However, all of this relies on the information gathered from the sensors themselves. Therefore, there’s a fundamental limitation to what software innovation can do alone. Improvements to the hardware are crucial to the advancement of self-driving cars and advanced materials play a fundamental role in hardware innovation. It’s all built up from advanced materials (and, lest we forget, by advanced materials as Purnesh’s previous blog touches on).

Metamaterials Blog (with Meta Title)

Posted by on in Electronics

Below you will find the prognostications I was able to record from an advanced materials venture capitalist whom I know well. I’m afraid that some of the knowledge gained from our dialogues has been lost to antiquity and general forgetfulness, but I have placed what remains here on this digital repository for blogs written by advanced materials venture capitalists:

MEMS are Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems and they are an enabling technology for so many of the devices we interact with everyday. While their near ubiquity may come as a surprise to some, their economic impact should not be understated. MEMS and the components or products they empower fuel markets in the tens of billions of dollars per year. Recently, Knowles Corporation announced that they’ve shipped eight billion MEMS microphones globally. Think about that for a minute – That’s more microphones than people living today. And that’s just one MEMS supplier and one of the myriad applications of MEMS…

In the worlds of Solid-State Physics and Materials Science, it is pretty common for exciting materials phenomenon to be predicted before they’re ever experimentally verified in the physical world. However, this typically occurs years, decades, or even centuries before commercial applications become viable and sustainable businesses can be formed. Many times, these jumps from prediction to demonstration to commercialization are never truly made.

Another Super Bowl has come and gone and once again, the Lombardi trophy has eluded the Philadelphia Eagles. Alas, it’s now been a decade since the Eagles have made it to the Big Game, and their last NFL Championship was in 1960, 6 years before the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game, posthumously dubbed “Super Bowl I”. However, the Eagles can claim one title for 2015: The Philadelphia Eagles lead the NFL in installed solar capacity with 3,000 kW. Living up to their ‘green’ colors, the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field has installed – through a partnership with NRG – 11,000+ solar panels and 14 micro wind-turbines.

What's in a Name?

Posted by on in Venture Capital

A while back, Pangaea General Partner Keith Gillard wrote a blog about our proactive approach to generating dealflow and evaluating potential solutions to identified market needs (found here). A consequence of this proactive strategy is that we interact with a whole lot of startup companies from around the world. While the majority of these companies are attempting to commercialize exciting materials technologies to solve some of the world’s bigger problems, we tend to be quite selective in where we place our money. For a typical VC, the percentage of companies invested in compared to companies evaluated is 1% or less. There are many reasons for this, ranging from a lack of confidence in the management team’s ability to execute to technology differentiation to IP concerns to expected long time horizons to revenue generation and possible exit.

While the periodic table may depict rare earth metals in one of the two additional rows thrown in at the very bottom, almost as an ad-hoc afterthought, these elements shouldn't be overlooked. They play significant roles in many large disparate industries and geopolitics alike.

Space: The Final Frontier [for materials innovation]? It's a far-out idea but the notion of manufacturing materials in a microgravity environment is quite intriguing. Without all that pesky force we call gravity holding us back, we can explore lots of unusual phenomena perhaps impossible to replicate on the surface of our blue gravity-producing planet.

With Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest, and Apple's recent acquisition of Israeli 3D sensor company PrimeSense, sensors are making quite the splash these days. Increasingly, sensors are being deployed all around us measuring, interpreting, and transmitting troves of actionable data. Whether it's for a smarter building where an occupancy sensor detects if anyone is in a room, a manufacturing environment where sensors ensure tight process control, or in a car where rotation sensors detect a slipping wheel, sensors impact most major industries today.

The Promise of Biochar

Posted by on in Sustainability

Charcoal: The word (for me at least) elicits thoughts of barbeque briquettes or perhaps the favored fuel source for a traditional blacksmith’s forge. It has been in use for thousands of years across the globe and isn’t typically thought of as a particularly “advanced material”. Compared to its allotropic carbon brethren (e.g. nanotubes, graphene, carbyne, activated and nanoporous carbons), charcoal has been the persona non grata. But perhaps we’re about to witness a change from low-value carbon residue to soil amendment and carbon sequestration extraordinaire – the proverbial ugly duckling story, if you will.