Preserving, Safeguarding Data

Case Western Reserve University Professor Kenneth Singer holding a roll of polymer film and a CD.

Kenneth Singer, PhD, the Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics is founder, executive chair of the board and chief innovation officer of Folio Photonics Inc., which developed a technique to produce and read data in three dimensions on a single disc, using multilayered polymer films. It was founded in 2012 as a spinoff from the National Science Foundation Center for Layered Polymeric Systems and has agreements pending to partner with data-storage companies. Irina Shiyanovskaya, PhD, an adjunct faculty member at the university, is the chief of technology and operations.

My motivation

Early in my career, I was at AT&T Bell Laboratories, working on projects that bridged basic research and manufacturing. It made me understand how you have to think about manufacturing from the beginning.

The pitch

The exponential growth of digital data production, driven by the internet, media, medicine and other uses, will soon result in over 100 zettabytes of data—1 zb equals 1 billion gigabytes— generated each year. Up to 70 percent of data needs to be archived. As several companies roll out optical archiving systems, Folio Photonics’ high-capacity optical discs provide the lowest-cost, longest-lived solution for preserving, safeguarding and optimizing access to the world’s data.

Me, an entrepreneur?

Starting a company, learning about business, finance—they are all things that I never thought I might do, and sometimes I’m surprised I even thought about doing this. I’m happy I did.

What this will accomplish

Data needs to be stored long term— doctors need access to the lifetime of your and your family’s medical history—and accessed easily, often within seconds. Folio’s optical-based DataFilm Disc provides access to decades of data. We’re probably three years away from going to market.

Top supporters

All but one of our 60-plus investors are private individuals drawn from my family’s network and the board’s network. Our institutional investor, Early Stage Partners, provided seed capital and the validation of an institutional investor. The university provided core facilities and equipment that we never could have afforded. We use them often.