SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
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The number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of December 31, 2022 was:
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Except as otherwise required by the context, references to (i) “Materialise,” “Company,” “we,” “us” and “our” are to Materialise NV and its subsidiaries, (ii) “ACTech” are to ACTech Holding GmbH and its subsidiaries, which we acquired in 2017, (iii) “Engimplan” are to Engimplan Engenharia De Implante Indústria E Comércio Ltda., in which we acquired a controlling interest in 2019 and in which we acquired the remaining interest in 2020, making us Engimplan’s sole shareholder (through our Brazilian subsidiary), (iv) “Materialise Motion” are to Materialise Motion NV, a joint venture we established in 2014 under the name “RSPrint Powered by Materialise” NV and in which we acquired the remaining interest in 2020, together with substantially all of the assets of RSScan International NV, or RS Scan, making us Materialise Motion’s sole shareholder, (v) “Link3D” are to Link3D Inc., which we acquired an option to buy in 2021, which we exercised in 2022, and which we subsequently merged into our U.S. subsidiary, Materialise USA, LLC, and (vi) “Identify3D” are to Identify3D, Inc., which we acquired in 2022 and subsequently merged into Materialise USA, LLC.
Our trademark portfolio contained 199 registered trademarks and 19 pending trademark application as of December 31, 2022. All other trademarks or trade names referred to in this annual report are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, the trademarks and trade names in this annual report are referred to without the ® and ™ symbols, but such references should not be construed as any indicator that their respective owners will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, their rights thereto.
All references in this annual report to “U.S. dollars” or “$” are to the legal currency of the United States and all references to “€” or “euro” are to the currency introduced at the start of the third stage of the European economic and monetary union pursuant to the treaty establishing the European Community, as amended.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
This annual report includes certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, concerning our business, operations and financial performance and condition as well as our plans, objectives and expectations for our business operations and financial performance and condition. Any statements that are not of historical facts may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. You can identify these forward-looking statements by words such as “believes,” “estimates,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “plans,” “intends,” “may,” “could,” “might,” “will,” “should,” “aims,” or other similar expressions that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes. Forward-looking statements appear in a number of places throughout this annual report and include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs, assumptions, projections, outlook, analyses or current expectations concerning, among other things, our intellectual property position, research and development projects, acquisitions, results of operations, cash needs, spending of the remaining net proceeds from our initial public offering, capital expenditures, financial condition, liquidity, prospects, growth and strategies, regulatory approvals and clearances, the markets and industry in which we operate and the trends and competition that may affect the markets, industry or us. In particular, under “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—D. Trend Information” of this annual report and in the notes to our audited consolidated financial statements, we discuss, based on our current assessment of the armed conflict in Ukraine, how our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be impacted during the year 2022 and beyond.
By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties because they relate to events, competitive dynamics and industry change, and depend on economic circumstances that may or may not occur in the future or may occur on longer or shorter timelines than anticipated. Although we believe that we have a reasonable basis for each forward-looking statement contained in this annual report, we caution you that forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that are in some cases beyond our control. All of our forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially from our expectations.
Actual results could differ materially from our forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including, without limitation, risks related to:
|●||the global political, economic, and macroeconomic climate, whether within our industry in general, or among specific types of customers or within particular geographies, including but not limited to, the impacts related to labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, a potential recession, inflation, and rising interest rates;|
|●||our ability to enhance and adapt our software, products and services to meet changing technology and customer needs;|
|●||fluctuations in our revenue and results of operations;|
|●||impacts on our business, financial conditions and results of operations from the armed conflict in Ukraine;|
|●||our ability to operate in a highly competitive and rapidly changing industry;|
|●||our ability to adequately increase demand for our products and services;|
|●||our collaborations, in-licensing arrangements, joint ventures, strategic alliances or partnerships with third parties;|
|●||our ability to integrate acquired businesses or technologies effectively;|
|●||our dependence upon sales to certain industries;|
|●||our relationships with suppliers;|
|●||our ability to attract and retain employees and contractors;|
|●||any disruptions to our service center operations, including by accidents, warfare, natural disasters or otherwise;|
|●||our ability to raise additional capital on attractive terms, or at all, if needed to meet our growth strategy;|
|●||our ability to adequately protect our intellectual property and proprietary technology;|
|●||our international operations;|
|●||our ability to comply with applicable governmental laws and regulations to which our products, services and operations are subject; and|
|●||other risk factors as set forth under “Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors.”|
Any forward-looking statements that we make in this annual report speak only as of the date of such statement, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this annual report or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. Comparisons of results for current and any prior periods are not intended to express any future trends or indications of future performance, unless expressed as such, and should only be viewed as historical data. You should, however, review the factors and risks we describe in the reports we will file from time to time with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, after the date of this annual report. See “Item 10. Additional Information – H. Documents on Display.”
You should also read carefully the factors described in “Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report to better understand the risks and uncertainties inherent in our business and underlying any forward-looking statements. As a result of these factors, we cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this annual report will prove to be accurate. Furthermore, if our forward-looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified timeframe, or at all.
ITEM 1.IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
ITEM 3.KEY INFORMATION
|B.||Capitalization and Indebtedness|
|C.||Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds|
Summary of Risk Factors
Risks Relating to Our Business
|●||We may not be able to maintain or increase the market share or reputation of our software and other products and services that they need to remain or become a market standard.|
|●||We may not be successful in continuing to enhance and adapt our software, products and services in line with developments in market technologies and demands.|
|●||The research and development programs that we are currently engaged in, or that we may establish in the future, may not be successful and our significant investments in these programs may be lost.|
|●||Existing and increased competition may reduce our revenue and profits.|
|●||We rely on collaborations with users of our additive manufacturing and related solutions to be present in certain large-scale markets and, indirectly, to expand into potentially high-growth specialty markets. Our inability to continue to develop or maintain these relationships in the future could harm our ability to remain competitive in existing markets and expand into other markets.|
|●||Our revenue and results of operations may fluctuate.|
|●||Inflation has had and may continue to have an adverse effect on our results.|
|●||Demand for additive manufacturing generally and our additive manufacturing software solutions, products and services in particular may not increase adequately, or at all.|
|●||We are dependent upon sales to certain industries.|
|●||If our relationships with suppliers, including with limited source suppliers of consumables, were to terminate or our manufacturing arrangements were to be disrupted, our business could be adversely affected.|
|●||The dominant software subscription model in the industrial sector is changing, and we may not be successful in developing a cloud-based platform to offer our software.|
|●||We may not be able to successfully adopt our software offering to the changing needs of the additive manufacturing market.|
|●||We depend on the knowledge and skills of key personnel throughout our entire organization, and if we are unable to retain and motivate them or recruit additional qualified personnel, our operations could suffer.|
|●||We may need to raise additional capital from time to time in order to meet our growth strategy and may be unable to do so on attractive terms, or at all.|
|●||As a result of the armed conflict in Ukraine, our supporting operations in Kyiv are expected to continue to be subject to continuous reorganization, uncertainty and instability.|
|●||Our international operations pose currency risks, which may adversely affect our results of operations and net income.|
|●||Our international operations subject us to various risks, and our failure to manage these risks could adversely affect our results of operations.|
|●||We may engage in acquisitions or investments that could disrupt our business, cause dilution to our shareholders and harm our financial condition and results of operations.|
|●||We may enter into collaborations, in-licensing arrangements, joint ventures, strategic alliances or partnerships with third parties that may not result in the development of commercially viable products or the generation of significant future revenue.|
|●||Failure to comply with applicable anti-corruption and trade sanctions legislation could result in fines, criminal penalties and an adverse effect on our business.|
|●||Errors or defects in our software or other products could cause us to incur additional costs, lose revenue and business opportunities, damage our reputation and expose us to potential liability.|
|●||We rely on our information technology systems to manage numerous aspects of our business and customer and supplier relationships, and a disruption of these systems could adversely affect our results of operations.|
|●||A breach of security in our products or computer systems may compromise the integrity of our products, harm our reputation, create additional liability and adversely impact our financial results.|
|●||If our service center operations are disrupted, sales of our 3D printing services, including the medical devices that we print, may be affected, which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.|
Risks Related to Our Materialise Medical Segment and Regulatory Environment
|●||Our medical business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be significantly and negatively affected by substantial government regulations.|
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
|●||If we are unable to obtain patent protection for our products or otherwise protect our intellectual property rights, our business could suffer.|
|●||We cannot predict the outcome of an arbitration proceeding in which we are involved.|
Risks Related to the American Depositary Shares (ADSs)
|●||We do not expect to be a passive foreign investment company for U.S. federal income tax purposes; however, there is a risk that we may be classified as a passive foreign investment company, which could result in materially adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. investors.|
Risks Relating to Our Business
We may not be able to maintain or increase the market share or reputation of our software and other products and services that they need to remain or become a market standard.
The additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, industry is rapidly growing on a global scale and is subject to constant innovation and technological change. A variety of technologies compete against one another in our market, which is driven, in part, by technological advances and end-user requirements and preferences, as well as by the emergence of new standards and practices. As the additive manufacturing market evolves, the industry standards that are adopted and adhered to are a function of the inherent qualities of the technology as well as the willingness of members of the industry to adopt them. To remain competitive, we depend in large part on our ability to increase and maintain market share and influence in the industry in order to be recognized as a market standard. Nonetheless, in the future, our influence in setting standards for the additive manufacturing industry may be limited and the standards adopted by the market may not be compatible with our present or future products and services.
We may not be successful in continuing to enhance and adapt our software, products and services in line with developments in market technologies and demands.
Our present or future software, products and services could be rendered obsolete or uneconomical by technological advances by one or more of our present or future competitors, by other technologies or by new customer needs. Our ability to remain competitive will depend, in large part, on our ability to enhance and adapt our current software, product and services to developments in technologies and to new and changing customer needs (in particular in relation to the manufacturing of end parts and the offering of cloud-based software solutions). We believe that to remain competitive we must continuously enhance and expand the functionality and features of our products, services and technologies. However, there can be no assurance that we will be able to:
|●||maintain and enhance the market share of our current products, services and technologies;|
|●||enhance our existing products, services and technologies;|
|●||develop new products, services and technologies that address the increasingly sophisticated and varied needs of prospective end-users (including in the emerging market of using additive manufacturing for end parts instead of prototypes and the trend of offering more cloud-enabled software solutions);|
|●||respond to technological advances and emerging industry standards and practices on a cost-effective and timely basis;|
|●||adequately protect our intellectual property as we develop new products, services and technologies and anticipate intellectual property claims from third parties; or|
|●||continue to integrate the product portfolio of Link3D and Identify3D into our own product portfolio.|
The research and development programs that we are currently engaged in, or that we may establish in the future, may not be successful and our significant investments in these programs may be lost.
To remain competitive, we invest, and intend to continue to invest, significant amounts in various research and development programs. There can be no assurances, however, that these research and development programs will improve our existing additive manufacturing software solutions, products and services or create new software, products or services. Even if some of these programs are successful, it is possible that the new software, products or services developed from such programs will not be commercially viable, that new 3D printing technologies that we, or others, develop will eventually supplant our current 3D printing technologies, that changes in the manufacturing or use of 3D printers will adversely affect the need or demand for our software, products or services or that our competitors will create or successfully market 3D printing technologies that will replace our solutions, products and services in the market. As a result, any of our software solutions, products or services may be rendered obsolete or uneconomical and our significant investments in all or some of our research and development programs may be lost.
Existing and increased competition may reduce our revenue and profits.
The market segments in which we operate, Materialise Software, Materialise Medical and Materialise Manufacturing, are characterized by vigorous competition, by the entry of competitors with innovative technologies, by consolidation of companies with complementary products, services and technologies, and by entry of large corporations in any one or more of our market segments.
In particular, the barriers to enter the software, medical and industrial markets with 3D printing solutions are decreasing rapidly.
In the Materialise Software segment, the availability of computing devices with continually expanding performance at progressively lower prices contributes to the ease of market entry. Additionally, there are certain open-source software applications that are being offered free of charge or for a nominal fee that can place additional competitive pressure on us. 3D printer manufacturers, which closely work with their customers, may also successfully bundle their own software solutions with their equipment, which may make our independent software solutions obsolete. In addition, companies that have greater financial, technical, sales and marketing and other resources, including market leaders with significant in-house capacities in software development, or existing computer-aided design, or CAD, or computer-aided manufacturing, or CAM, or manufacturing execution system, or MES, software providers, are entering the additive manufacturing market and may very rapidly gain a significant share of the markets that we target (including through the acquisition of startup and scale-up companies that are active in the development and sale of additive manufacturing software tools).
In the Materialise Medical segment, medical device companies are investing in 3D printing solutions that may compete with our software solutions, products and services. Companies that initially rely on us to enter the additive manufacturing market for medical applications may, as they gain experience and as 3D printing technology gains strategic importance, decide to develop their own in-house solutions and enter the market themselves with their own software, products or services, thus becoming competitors and denying us continued access to their distribution channels. In addition, startup and scale-up companies, as well as companies that have greater financial, technical, sales and marketing and other resources, are entering the additive manufacturing market and may very rapidly gain a significant share of the markets that we target.
In the Materialise Manufacturing segment, as additive manufacturing gains importance as a strategic technology, our customers are likely to bring 3D manufacturing in-house and reduce or even discontinue using our 3D printing services. In addition, competitors with more efficient or profitable business models, superior techniques or more advanced technologies may take market share away from us. Also, in certain specific markets that our Materialise Manufacturing segment targets, including, among others, the shoe wear, eyewear and fixtures markets, established players may develop their own competitive solutions or may engage in collaborations with competitors of ours, preventing us from gaining a viable position in these markets.
Because of these and other factors, competitive conditions in the industry are likely to intensify in the future. Increased competition could result in price reductions, reduced revenue and operating margins and loss of market share, any of which would likely harm our results of operations.
We rely on collaborations with users of our additive manufacturing and related solutions to be present in certain large-scale markets and, indirectly, to expand into potentially high-growth specialty markets. Our inability to continue to develop or maintain these relationships in the future could harm our ability to remain competitive in existing markets and expand into other markets.
Our strategy includes entering into collaborations with our customers in certain large-scale markets and leveraging these collaborations to enter into other underserved specialty markets. In the medical market, we have entered into collaborations with DePuy Synthes Companies of Johnson & Johnson, or DePuy Synthes, and Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc., or Zimmer Biomet, as well as with Encore Medical, L.P. (d/b/a Enovis), or Enovis, Limacorporate Spa, or Lima, Mathys AG, or Mathys (which is now part of the same group as Enovis), Smith & Nephew Inc., or Smith & Nephew, Corin Ltd, or Corin, Medtronic Inc., or Medtronic, and Abbott Laboratories Inc., or Abbott. Increased adoption of our software, products and services, especially in potentially high-growth specialty markets, will depend in part on our current and future collaborators’ willingness to continue to adopt our additive manufacturing and other solutions in their markets and on our ability to continue to collaborate with these and other players. Certain of our customers that have initially relied on our 3D printing software and services have announced their intention to bring their 3D printing operations in-house and enter the market themselves, and other customers may also do so in the future as they gain experience and as 3D printing technology gains strategic importance, thus denying us continued access to their distribution channels. In addition, a change of control of any of our collaboration partners may negatively impact our relationship. If we are not able to maintain our existing collaborations and develop new collaborative relationships, our foothold in larger markets and expansion into potentially high-growth specialty markets could be harmed significantly.
Our revenue and results of operations may fluctuate.
Our revenue and results of operations may fluctuate from quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year and are likely to continue to vary due to a number of factors, many of which are not within our control. You should not rely on our past results as an indication of our future performance.
Fluctuations in our results of operations and financial condition may occur due to a number of factors, including, but not limited to, those listed below and those identified throughout this annual report:
|●||our ability to continue, renew or replace relationships with key customers;|
|●||the degree of market acceptance of our software and our products;|
|●||the mix of software, products and services that we sell during any period, as well as the mix of the various markets in which we make sales during said periods;|
|●||a decline in new or renewed periodic licenses or maintenance contracts;|
|●||delays in the introduction of new features;|
|●||the entry of new competitors into our market;|
|●||the development and degree of market acceptance of new competitive systems or processes by others;|
|●||changes in our pricing policies or those of our competitors, including our responses to price competition;|
|●||changes in the amount we spend in our marketing and other efforts;|
|●||delays between our expenditures to develop, acquire or license new technologies and processes, and the generation of sales related thereto;|
|●||the amounts we spend on, and the success rate of, our research and development activities;|
|●||changes in the regulatory environment, including changes in regulatory laws and regulations and the interpretation thereof, applicable to our software programs, products or services;|
|●||delays in obtaining regulatory approval for our products, services or software programs;|
|●||interruptions to or other problems with our website and interactive user interface, information technology systems, manufacturing processes or other operations;|
|●||general macroeconomic and industry conditions that affect end-user demand and end-user levels of product design and manufacturing, including the adverse effects of global macroeconomic uncertainties such as the macroeconomic uncertainty related to the armed conflict in Ukraine; and|
|●||changes in accounting rules and tax laws.|
Inflation has had and may continue to have an adverse effect on our results.
Inflationary pressures negatively impacted our operating margins and net income in fiscal 2022, including increasing the costs of labor, energy, materials, and freight. We implemented price increases on many of our products and services in 2022 in an effort to mitigate the effects of higher costs related to inflation. However, not all cost increases could be entirely offset, in part due to the delayed effect of price increases in multi-year agreements to which we are a party, where price increases can only be implemented at the renewal date. In addition, in Belgium, the salaries of our employees are indexed to inflation increases by law and, as a result, in can be difficult to keep our sales prices aligned with increases in our labor costs. If these inflationary pressures continue, our revenue, gross and operating margins and net income may be impacted in fiscal 2023 as well, which would harm our results of operations.
Demand for additive manufacturing generally and our additive manufacturing software solutions, products and services in particular may not increase adequately, or at all.
The industrial and medical industries are generally dominated by conventional production methods with limited use of additive manufacturing technology in certain specific instances. If additive manufacturing technology, in particular, but not limited to, for the production of end parts, does not gain more mainstream market acceptance, or gains market acceptance at a significantly slower pace than currently expected, or if the marketplace adopts additive manufacturing based on a technology other than the technologies that we currently use or serve (including in the medical, eyewear, footwear and fixtures markets that we target), we may not be able to meet our growth objectives or increase or sustain the level of sales of our additive manufacturing software solutions, products and services, and our results of operations would be adversely affected as a result.
We are dependent upon sales to certain industries.
Our revenue from products is currently relatively concentrated in the industrial and medical industries, and particularly in the automotive/aerospace and orthopedic/cranio-maxillofacial segments within such industries, respectively, and we expect additional growth to come from certain other specific markets, such as the eyewear and footwear markets. To the extent any of these industries experience, or continue to experience, a downturn, our results of operations may be adversely affected. Additionally, if any of these industries or their respective suppliers or other providers of manufacturing services develop new technologies or alternatives to manufacture the products that are currently manufactured using our 3D printing software, products and services, it may adversely affect our results of operations.
If our relationships with suppliers, including with limited source suppliers of consumables, were to terminate or our manufacturing arrangements were to be disrupted, our business could be adversely affected.
We purchase consumables and other components that are used in our production from third party suppliers. We currently use only a limited number of suppliers for several of the raw materials that we use for our printing activities. Our reliance on a limited number of vendors involves a number of risks, including:
|●||potential shortages of some key consumables or other components;|
|●||printed material performance or quality shortfalls, if traceable to particular consumables or other components, since the supplier of the faulty consumable or component cannot readily be replaced;|
|●||discontinuation of a consumable or other component on which we rely;|
|●||potential insolvency of these vendors; and|
|●||reduced control over delivery schedules, manufacturing capabilities, quality and costs.|
If certain suppliers were to decide to discontinue production, or the supply to us, of a consumable or other component that we use, the unanticipated change in the availability of supplies, or unanticipated supply limitations, could cause delays in, or loss of, sales, increased production or related costs and, consequently, reduced margins, and damage to our reputation. In addition, because we use a limited number of suppliers, increases in the prices charged by our suppliers may have an adverse effect on our results of operations, as we may be unable to find a supplier who can supply us at a lower price. As a result, the loss of a limited source supplier could adversely affect our relationships with our customers and our results of operations and financial condition.
The dominant software subscription model in the industrial sector is changing, and we may not be successful in developing a cloud-based platform to offer our software.
We offer most of our current software products through on-premises licensing (either on a perpetual or annual basis). We believe the industrial software market is evolving to Software as a Service, or SaaS, and other cloud-based models of software deployment where software providers typically license their applications to customers for use as a service on demand through web browser technologies. While we are deploying an increasing number of cloud-enabled platform components, and are in the process of continuing to integrate the Link3D platform into a unified additive manufacturing platform, or CO-AM, to offer our software products either by means of a SaaS or a cloud-based subscription model, there is no guarantee that we will be able to complete this integration successfully or in a timely manner or that our platform will be adopted by customers over other platforms.
A SaaS or cloud-based software offering may differ significantly from the perpetual and annual licensing models that we have offered until recently. An increase in the prevalence of SaaS and cloud-based delivery models offered by us or our competitors could unfavorably impact the pricing of our on-premises software offerings and have a dampening impact on overall demand for our on-premises software product offerings, which could reduce our revenues and profitability. In addition, to the extent that demand for our SaaS or cloud-based offerings increases in the future, we may experience volatility in our reported revenues and operating results due to the differences in timing of revenue recognition between our perpetual and annual software licenses and our SaaS and cloud-based offering arrangements.
Furthermore, any SaaS or cloud-based software products we offer may reside upon and be hosted by third party providers. A security breach, whether of our products, of our customers’ network security and systems or of third party hosting services, could disrupt access to our customers’ stored information and could lead to the loss of, damage to or public disclosure of our customers’ stored information.
We may not be able to successfully adopt our software offering to the changing needs of the additive manufacturing market.
While the current proto-typing market that we serve with our software solutions (in particular the Magics 3D Print Suite) is not expected to disappear, the main growth in additive manufacturing is expected to come from the use of 3D printing for the production of end parts. While we are investing significantly in the expansion of our current software product portfolio to also serve the needs of this new and growing market (in particular, with the development of the Materialise CO-AM platform), there can be no certainty that our new software offering will adequately serve the needs of this new market, will be operational in time to address these market needs, will be well received by the market or will effectively compete with other players in this market.
We depend on the knowledge and skills of key personnel throughout our entire organization, and if we are unable to retain and motivate them or recruit additional qualified personnel, our operations could suffer.
Our success depends upon the continued service and performance of key personnel at all levels within our organization, including machine operators, engineers, designers, software developers, salespeople, product managers and senior management, and our ability to identify, hire, develop, motivate and retain qualified personnel in the future. Competition for key employees in our industry is intense and we cannot guarantee that we will be able to retain our personnel or attract new, qualified personnel. We may need to invest significant amounts of cash and equity to attract and retain new employees and we may not realize returns on these investments. The loss of the services of key personnel could prevent or delay the implementation and completion of our strategic objectives, could divert management’s attention to seeking certain qualified replacements or could adversely affect our ability to manage our company effectively. Each member of our personnel may resign at any time. Only some of the members of our personnel are subject to non-competition agreements, which may also be difficult to enforce. Accordingly, the adverse effect resulting from the loss of certain member of our key personnel could be compounded by our inability to prevent them from competing with us. We do not carry key-man insurance on any member of our senior management team or other key personnel. If we lose the ability to hire and retain key executives and employees with a diversity and high level of skills in appropriate domains (such as research and development and sales), it could have a material adverse impact on our business activities and results of operations.
In addition, the success of our acquisitions may depend in part on our ability to retain senior management and other key personnel of the acquired company following the acquisition and to continue to attract such persons to our company. For example, the companies we acquire may depend on small teams of founders and senior managers with extensive market knowledge and relationships or that exercise substantial influence over the acquired business. As result, the loss of such persons could adversely affect us.
We may need to raise additional capital from time to time in order to meet our growth strategy and may be unable to do so on attractive terms, or at all.
We intend to continue to make investments to support the growth of our business and may require additional funds to respond to business challenges, including the need to implement our growth strategy, increase market share in our current markets or expand into other markets, or broaden our technology, intellectual property or service capabilities. Accordingly, we may require additional investments of capital from time to time, and our existing sources of cash and any funds generated from operations may not provide us with sufficient capital. For various reasons, including the current macroeconomic environment or any noncompliance with existing or future lending arrangements, additional financing, may not be available when needed, or may not be available on terms favorable to us. If we fail to obtain adequate capital on a timely basis or if capital cannot be obtained on terms satisfactory to us, we may not be able to achieve our planned rate of growth, which will adversely affect our results of operations.
Our international operations subject us to various risks, and our failure to manage these risks could adversely affect our results of operations.
We face significant operational risks as a result of doing business internationally, including, among others:
|●||fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates;|
|●||potentially longer sales and payment cycles;|
|●||potentially greater difficulties in collecting accounts receivable;|
|●||potentially adverse tax consequences, including liabilities imposed from inconsistent enforcement;|
|●||challenges in providing solutions across a significant distance, in different languages and among different cultures;|
|●||the impact of global public health crises, including the impact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could still have on some economies and markets;|
|●||becoming subject to the different, complex and changing laws, regulations and court systems of multiple jurisdictions and compliance with a wide variety of foreign laws, treaties and regulations;|
|●||reduced protection of, or significant difficulties in enforcing, intellectual property rights in certain countries;|
|●||difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations, particularly in new geographic locations;|
|●||restrictions imposed by local labor practices and laws on our business and operations, including unilateral cancellation or modification of contracts;|
|●||expropriation or nationalization of property;|
|●||rapid changes in global government, economic and political policies and conditions, political or civil unrest or instability, terrorism or pandemics, epidemics and other similar outbreaks or events, such as the armed conflict in Ukraine;|
|●||operating in countries with a higher incidence of corruption and fraudulent business practices;|
|●||seasonal reductions in business activity in certain parts of the world, particularly during the summer months in Europe;|
|●||costs and difficulties of customizing products for foreign countries; and|
|●||tariffs, trade barriers and other regulatory or contractual limitations on our ability to sell or develop our products in certain foreign markets.|
As a result of the armed conflict in Ukraine, our supporting operations in Kyiv are expected to continue to be subject to continuous reorganization, uncertainty and instability.
We have an office in Kyiv, Ukraine where more than 400 of our collaborators are mainly engaged in engineering, software development and IT support, as well as other staff functions. On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, impacting our operations in Kyiv significantly.
Although our operations in Kyiv nearly ceased in the first quarter of 2022, we have since been able to gradually reorganize the internal services provided from that region through a combination of measures, including Ukrainian collaborators who have fled to other regions in their country now working from home, support provided by existing (and often enlarged) Materialise teams in other regions, the relocation of a number of Ukrainian collaborators outside of Ukraine, and, circumstances permitting, services provided from our Kyiv office, which we have presently re-opened and accommodated to try to cope with the challenges resulting from the continuous military strikes on key infrastructure in the country.
While our people in Ukraine have shown, and continue to show, incredible resilience and professionalism, the situation in Ukraine remains unstable and uncertain and is expected to continue to have an impact on our operations, both financially and operationally. We expect that, as long as the armed conflict continues (and possibly for a period thereafter), this impact will continue and may even worsen, depending on the developments both geo-politically and in Ukraine. Although we are presently determined to continue to flexibly support our operations in Kyiv and at present do not see any reason to revise that strategy, we constantly monitor and evaluate the situation. Any change in strategy may have an additional negative impact on our results of operations and financial condition.
We are unable to predict how the armed conflict in Ukraine will evolve and what the further political and economic repercussions will be. As a result, we are unable to assess with certainty its future impact on our business and operations, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and liquidity. In particular, although we have included under “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—D. Trend Information” of this annual report a discussion, based on our current assessment of the armed conflict in Ukraine, of how our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be impacted during fiscal 2023, this discussion should be considered as uncertain. While we expect to suffer adverse effects, the severity is currently impossible to assess.
Our international operations pose currency risks, which may adversely affect our results of operations and net income.
Our results of operations may be affected by volatility in currency exchange rates and our ability to effectively manage our currency transaction risks. In general, we conduct our business, earn revenue and incur costs in the local currency of the countries in which we operate. During the year ended December 31, 2022, 61% of our revenue was generated, and approximately 75% of our total costs were incurred in euros. As we continue to expand internationally, our exposure to currency risks may increase. Historically, although we seek to monitor the ratio of revenues to expenses in certain foreign currencies, we have not managed all our foreign currency exposure in a manner that would eliminate the effects of changes in foreign exchange rates. Changes in exchange rates between the foreign currencies in which we do business and the euro will affect our revenue, cost of sales, and operating margins, and could result in exchange losses in any given reporting period.
Changes in tax laws, treaties or regulations could adversely affect our financial results.
Our future effective tax rates could be adversely affected by changes in tax laws, treaties and regulations, both internationally and domestically, including possible changes to the innovation income deduction regime in Belgium or the way it proportionately impacts our effective tax rate. An increase of our future effective tax rates could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
We may engage in acquisitions or investments that could disrupt our business, cause dilution to our shareholders and harm our financial condition and results of operations.
In the past, we have acquired or invested in companies that we believe have products, services, competencies or capabilities that are a strategic or commercial fit with any of our businesses or that otherwise offer opportunities for us, and we intend to continue evaluating opportunities to do so.
In connection with acquisitions or investments, we may:
|●||issue American Depositary Shares, or ADSs, or other forms of equity that would dilute our existing shareholders’ percentage of ownership;|
|●||incur debt and assume liabilities; and/or|
|●||incur amortization expenses related to intangible assets or incur large and immediate write-offs.|
If we complete an acquisition or investment, we cannot assure that it will ultimately strengthen our competitive position or that it will be viewed positively by customers, suppliers, employees, financial markets or investors. Furthermore, future acquisitions or investments could pose numerous additional risks to our operations, including:
|●||problems integrating the purchased business, products, services or technologies;|
|●||challenges in achieving strategic objectives, cost savings and other anticipated benefits;|
|●||increases to our expenses;|
|●||the potential write down of assets or goodwill acquired in the context of an acquisition or investment;|
|●||due diligence investigations failing to discover undisclosed liabilities or risks affecting the acquired businesses;|
|●||the assumption of significant liabilities that exceed the limitations of any applicable indemnification provisions or the financial resources of any indemnifying party;|
|●||inability to maintain relationships with key customers, vendors and other business partners of our current or acquired businesses;|
|●||diversion of management’s attention from their day-to-day responsibilities;|
|●||difficulty in maintaining controls, procedures and policies during the transition and integration;|
|●||entrance into marketplaces where we have no or limited prior experience and where competitors have stronger marketplace positions;|
|●||potential loss of key employees, particularly those of the acquired entity; and|
|●||historical financial information may no longer be representative or indicative of our results as a combined company.|
Alternatively, while certain acquisitions or investments may be of strategic importance for the execution of our business plan, we may not ultimately be able to complete such acquisitions or investments on favorable terms, or at all, which may in turn materially affect our ability to grow or even cause us to lose market share, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may enter into collaborations, in-licensing arrangements, joint ventures, strategic alliances or partnerships with third parties that may not result in the development of commercially viable products or the generation of significant future revenue.
In the ordinary course of our business, we enter into collaborations, in-licensing arrangements, joint ventures, strategic alliances or partnerships to develop proposed products or services and to pursue new markets. Proposing, negotiating and implementing collaborations, in-licensing arrangements, joint ventures, strategic alliances or partnerships may be a lengthy and complex process. Other companies, including those with substantially greater financial, marketing, sales, technology or other business resources, may compete with us for these opportunities or arrangements. We may not succeed in maintaining, renewing or extending existing collaborations or in identifying, securing, or completing any such new transactions or arrangements in a timely manner, on a cost-effective basis, on acceptable terms or at all. We may also not realize the anticipated benefits of any such transaction or arrangement. In particular, these collaborations may not result in the development of products or services that achieve commercial success or result in significant revenue and could be terminated prior to developing any products or services.
Additionally, we may not be in a position to exercise sole decision-making authority regarding the transaction or arrangement, which could create the potential risk of creating impasses on decisions, and our collaboration partners may have economic or business interests or goals that are, or that may become, inconsistent with our economic or business interests or goals. It is possible that conflicts may arise with our current or future collaboration partners, such as conflicts concerning the achievement of performance milestones, or the interpretation of terms under any agreement, such as those related to financial obligations, the ownership or license rights or control of intellectual property developed before or during the collaboration or indemnification. If any conflicts arise with our current or future collaboration partners, they may act in their self-interest, which may be adverse to our best interest, and they may breach their obligations to us. In addition, we have limited control over the amount and timing of resources that our current collaboration partners or any future collaboration partners devote to our collaboration partners’ or our future products or services. Disputes with our collaboration partners may result in litigation or arbitration that would increase our expenses and divert the attention of our management. For example, we are currently involved in an arbitration dispute with Zimmer Biomet regarding certain alleged indemnification obligations. Further, these transactions and arrangements are contractual in nature and may be terminated or dissolved under the terms of the applicable agreements and, in such event, we may not continue to have rights to the products or access to the markets relating to such transaction or arrangement or may need to purchase such rights at a premium.
Failure to comply with applicable anti-corruption and trade sanctions legislation could result in fines, criminal penalties and an adverse effect on our business.
We operate in a number of countries throughout the world and we are committed to doing business in accordance with applicable anti-corruption laws. We are subject, however, to the risk that our officers, directors, employees, agents and collaboration partners may take action determined to be in violation of such anti-corruption laws, as well as trade sanctions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Any such violation could result in substantial fines, sanctions, civil and/or criminal penalties or curtailment of operations in certain jurisdictions and might adversely affect our results of operations. In addition, actual or alleged violations could damage our reputation and ability to do business.
Errors or defects in our software or other products could cause us to incur additional costs, lose revenue and business opportunities, damage our reputation and expose us to potential liability.
Sophisticated software and complex 3D printed products may contain errors, defects or other performance problems at any point in the life of the product. If errors or defects are discovered in our current or future software or other products, we may not be able to correct them in a timely manner, or provide an adequate response to our customers. We may therefore need to expend significant financial, technical and management resources, or divert some of our development resources, in order to resolve or work around those defects. We may also experience an increase in our service and warranty costs. Particularly in the medical sector, errors or defects in our software or products could lead to claims by patients against us and our customers and expose us to lawsuits that may damage our and our customers’ reputations. Claims may be made by individuals or by classes of users. Our product liability and related insurance policies may not apply or sufficiently cover any product liability lawsuit that arises from defective software or products. Customers such as our collaboration partners may also seek indemnification for third party claims allegedly arising from breaches of warranties under our collaboration agreements.
Errors, defects or other performance problems in our software or other products may also result in the loss of, or delay in, the market acceptance of our software, our products and related 3D printing or engineering services or postponement of customer deployment. Such difficulties could also cause us to lose customers and, particularly in the case of our largest customers, the potentially substantial associated revenue which would have been generated by our sales to companies participating in our customer’s supply chain. Technical problems, or the loss of a customer with a particularly important global reputation, could also damage our own business reputation and cause us to lose new business opportunities.
We rely on our information technology systems to manage numerous aspects of our business and customer and supplier relationships, and a disruption of these systems could adversely affect our results of operations.
We rely on our information technology systems and databases to manage numerous aspects of our business and to provide analytical information to management. Our information technology systems allow us to, among other things, optimize our software development and research and development efforts, organize our in-house 3D printing services logistics, efficiently purchase products from our suppliers, provide other procurement and logistic services, ship and invoice products to our customers on a timely basis, maintain cost-effective operations and generally provide service to our customers. Our information technology systems are an essential component of our business and growth strategies, and a disruption to or perceived failure in our information technology systems could significantly limit our ability to manage and operate our business efficiently. Although we take steps to secure our information technology systems, including our computer systems, intranet and internet sites, email and other telecommunications and data networks, the security measures we have implemented may not be effective and our systems may be vulnerable to, among other things, damage and interruption from power loss, including as a result of natural disasters, computer system and network failures, loss of telecommunication services, operator negligence, loss of data, security breaches, computer viruses and other disruptive events. Any such disruption could adversely affect our reputation, brand and financial condition.
In addition, during the next few years, we expect to gradually replace a number of our information technology systems with new, cloud-based systems. This transformation is intended to further increase our security and data integrity. Disruptions during the configuration, implementation or operation of, or during the migration to, these new systems may have an impact on our operations and could adversely affect us.
A breach of security in our products or computer systems may compromise the integrity of our products, harm our reputation, create additional liability and adversely impact our financial results.
We make significant efforts to maintain the security and integrity of our product source code and computer systems. The risk of a security breach or disruption, particularly through cyber-attack or cyber intrusion, including by computer hackers, foreign governments and cyber terrorists, has increased as the number, intensity and sophistication of attempted attacks and intrusions from around the world have increased. These threats include identity theft, unauthorized access, DNS attacks, wireless network attacks, viruses and worms, advanced persistent threat, application centric attacks, peer-to-peer attacks, phishing, backdoor trojans and distributed denial of service attacks. Any of the foregoing could attack our products and computer systems. Despite significant efforts to create and continuously reinforce the security barriers to such programs, it is virtually impossible for us to entirely eliminate this risk. Like all software products and computer systems, our software products and computer systems are vulnerable to such cyber-attacks, and our computer systems have been subject to certain cyber security incidents in the past. The impact of cyber-attacks could disrupt the proper functioning of our software products and computer systems, cause errors in the output of our or our customers’ work, allow unauthorized access to sensitive, proprietary or confidential information of our company, our customers or the patients that we and our customers serve through our medical solutions. Moreover, as we continue to invest in new lines of products and services we are exposed to increased security risks and the potential for unauthorized access to, or improper use of, the information of our product and service users. If any of the foregoing occur, our reputation may suffer, customers may stop buying our products or services, we could face lawsuits and potential liability, and our results of operations could be adversely affected.
We rely on third-party technology, platform, carriers, server and hardware providers and as well as local servers, and a failure of service by these providers or by our local servers could adversely affect our business and reputation.
We use third party cloud providers to host a major part of our servers. If these providers are unable to handle current or higher volumes of use, experiences any interruption in operations or ceases operations for any reason or if we are unable to agree on satisfactory terms for a continued hosting relationship, we would be forced to enter into a relationship with other service providers or assume these hosting responsibilities ourselves. If we are forced to switch hosting facilities, we may not be successful in finding an alternative service provider on acceptable terms or in hosting the computer servers ourselves. We may also be limited in our remedies against our third party hosting providers in the event of a failure of service. A failure or limitation of service or available capacity by our third party hosting providers could adversely affect our business and reputation.
In addition to using third party cloud providers, we have also established local servers and infrastructure in multiple offices, including in Leuven. A failure of these local servers could adversely affect our business and reputation.
Workplace accidents or environmental damage could result in substantial remedial obligations and damage to our reputation.
Accidents or other incidents that occur at our service centers and other facilities or involve our personnel or operations could result in claims for damages against us. In addition, in the event we are found to be financially responsible, as a result of environmental or other laws or by court order, for environmental damages alleged to have been caused by us or occurring on our premises, we could be required to pay substantial monetary damages or undertake expensive remedial obligations. The amount of any costs, including fines or damages payments that we might incur under such circumstances could substantially exceed any insurance we have to cover such losses. Any of these events, alone or in combination, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and could adversely affect our reputation.
Our operations are subject to environmental laws and other government regulations that could result in liabilities in the future.
We are subject to local environmental laws and regulations governing our operations, including, but not limited to, emissions into the air and water and the use, handling, disposal and remediation of hazardous substances. A certain risk of environmental liability is inherent in our production activities. Under certain environmental laws, we could be held solely or jointly and severally responsible, regardless of fault, for the remediation of any hazardous substance contamination at our service centers and other facilities and the respective consequences arising out of human exposure to such substances or other environmental damage. We may not have been and may not be at all times in complete compliance with environmental laws, regulations and permits, and the nature of our operations exposes us to the risk of liabilities or claims with respect to environmental and worker health and safety matters. If we violate or fail to comply with environmental laws, regulations and permits, we could be subject to penalties, fines, restrictions on operations or other sanctions, and our operations could be interrupted. The cost of complying with current and future environmental, health and safety laws applicable to our operations, or the liabilities arising from past releases of, or exposure to, hazardous substances, may result in future expenditures. Any of these developments, alone or in combination, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If our service center operations are disrupted, sales of our 3D printing services, including the medical devices that we print, may be affected, which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.
We have seven 3D printing service centers in Europe, the United States, Brazil and Japan, including our principal 3D printing service center located in Leuven, Belgium. If the operations of these facilities are materially disrupted, whether by fires or other industrial accidents, extreme weather, natural disasters, labor stoppages, acts of terror, or otherwise, we would be unable to fulfill customer orders for the period of the disruption, we would not be able to recognize revenue on orders, we could suffer damage to our reputation, and we might need to modify our standard sales terms to secure the commitment of new customers during the period of the disruption and perhaps longer. In addition, extreme weather and other natural disasters may become more intense or more frequent as a result of climate change. Depending on the cause of the disruption, we could incur significant costs to remedy the disruption and resume providing 3D printing services. Such a disruption could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.
We could experience unforeseen difficulties in building and operating key portions of our 3D printing infrastructure.
We have designed and built our own 3D printing operations, some of the 3D printer platforms in use and other key portions of our technical infrastructure through which we serve our products and services, and we plan to continue to expand the size of our infrastructure through expanding our 3D printing facilities. The infrastructure expansion we may undertake may be complex, and unanticipated delays in the completion of these projects or availability of components may lead to increased project costs, operational inefficiencies, or interruptions in the delivery or degradation of the quality of our products. In addition, there may be issues related to this infrastructure that are not identified during the design and implementation phases, which may only become evident after we have started to fully utilize the underlying equipment, that could further degrade the user experience or increase our costs.
We may not have adequate insurance for potential liabilities, including liabilities arising from litigation.
In the ordinary course of business, we have been, and in the future may be, subject to various product and non-product related claims, lawsuits and administrative proceedings seeking damages or other remedies arising out of our commercial operations, including litigation related to defects in our software or other products. We maintain insurance to cover our potential exposure for a number of claims and losses. However, our insurance coverage is subject to various exclusions, self-retentions and deductibles, may be inadequate or unavailable to protect us fully, and may be cancelled or otherwise terminated by the insurer. Furthermore, we face the following additional risks related to our insurance coverage:
|●||we may not be able to continue to obtain insurance coverage on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, including with respect to our activities in the medical industry;|
|●||we may be faced with types of liabilities that are not covered under our insurance policies, such as environmental contamination, terrorist attacks or alleged infringements of third parties’ intellectual property rights, and that exceed any amounts that we may have reserved for such liabilities;|
|●||the amount of any liabilities that we may face may exceed our policy limits; and|
|●||we may incur losses resulting from the interruption of our business that may not be fully covered under our insurance policies.|
Even a partially uninsured claim of significant size, if successful or if settled for a substantial amount of money, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. However, even if we successfully defend ourselves against any such claim, we could be forced to spend a substantial amount of money in litigation expenses, our management could be required to spend valuable time defending these claims and our reputation could suffer, any of which could adversely affect our results of operations.
Current and future global macroeconomic uncertainties and political conditions may adversely affect our results of operations.
Our results of operations could be substantially affected not only by global economic conditions, but also by local operating, economic, public health or environmental conditions, which can vary substantially across regions. Unfavorable conditions can depress sales in a given market and may result in actions that adversely affect our margins, constrain our operating flexibility or result in charges that are unusual or non-recurring.
Certain macroeconomic events could have a wide-ranging and prolonged impact on the general business environment, which could also adversely affect us. Current macroeconomic events that we believe could impact us are the following:
|●||Geopolitical instability resulting from, among other factors, the armed conflict in Ukraine;|
|●||The risk of potential recessions, continued rising interest rates, inflation and labor shortages in Europe and the United States;|
|●||Recent turmoil in the global banking system;|
|●||Disruptions caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related responses thereto in certain economies and markets, including most recently, in China; and|
|●||In general, the economic and political challenges faced by, among others, China, certain Eurozone countries and the United States.|
We cannot predict the likely duration and severity of these economic and political developments, which could affect us in numerous ways, many of which we cannot predict. For example, the existence of inflation in certain economies has resulted in, and may continue to result in, rising interest rates and capital costs, supply shortages, increased costs of labor, components, manufacturing and freight costs, as well as weakening exchange rates and other similar effects. As a result of inflation, we have experienced and may continue to experience cost increases. Although we take measures to mitigate the effects of inflation, if these measures are not effective, our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity could be materially adversely affected. Even if such measures are effective, there could be a difference between the timing of when those beneficial actions impact our results or operations and when the cost of inflation is incurred.
In addition, political and economic developments could also result in changes to legislation or reformation of government policies, rules and regulations, including in relation to tax and trade. Such changes could have a significant impact on our business by increasing the cost of doing business, affecting our ability to sell our software, products and services and negatively impacting our profitability. For example, as a result of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, as a result of which immediate severe trade sanctions were issued, in particular by the United States and the European Union.
We face potential liability related to the privacy and security of personal information we collect.
In particular, but not exclusively, in connection with our Materialise Medical segment and the personalized wearables business we are pursuing within our Materialise Manufacturing segment, we may have access to personal information that is subject to a number of U.S. federal and state, E.U. and other applicable foreign laws protecting the confidentiality of certain patient health or other private information, including patient records, and restricting the use and disclosure of that protected information.
In the United States, we are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, regulations issued pursuant to these statutes, state privacy and security laws and regulations. These statutes, regulations and contractual obligations impose numerous requirements regarding the use and disclosure of personal health information with which we must comply. In addition, privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, effective as of January 1, 2020, which was recently amended and expanded by the California Privacy Rights Act, or CPRA, as of January 1, 2023. The CCPA, as amended by the CPRA, requires, among other things, covered companies, including us, to provide new disclosures to California consumers and afford such consumers the ability to opt out of certain sales of personal information. We cannot yet predict the impact of the CCPA, as amended by the CPRA, on our business or operations, but it may require us to modify our data processing practices and policies and to incur substantial costs and expenses in an effort to comply.
In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR, was passed on May 24, 2016, and replaced the E.U. Data Protection Directive when it came into force on May 25, 2018. GDPR introduced new data protection requirements in the European Union, unprecedented regulatory risk for non-compliant data processors and controllers and sizeable penalties for serious breaches—up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover, whichever is higher. The GDPR also significantly expands the territorial reach of existing E.U. data protection and privacy rules. Our business processes have been and continue to be modified in order to incorporate the requirements of the GDPR. In addition, in connection with its withdrawal from the European Union, the United Kingdom implemented the GDPR as of January 1, 2021 (as it existed on December 31, 2020 but subject to certain U.K.-specific amendments), or U.K. GDPR.
In ensuring continued compliance with the E.U. regime, our transfer of any personal data from the European Union to the United States must be done in a manner which satisfies E.U. cross-border data transfer requirements. The E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield, which had been adopted by the United States and the European Union as a framework for protecting the fundamental rights of anyone in the European Union whose personal data is transferred to the United States for commercial purposes, was subsequently invalidated by the European Court of Justice on July 16, 2020 for not meeting E.U. regulatory requirements. We are investigating and undertaking appropriate steps to mitigate the risks caused by the invalidation of the Privacy Shield, including the use and implementation of the standard contractual clauses for the transfer of personal data to third countries as published by the European Commission on June 4, 2021.
In addition, the use and disclosure of personal health and other private information is subject to regulation in other jurisdictions in which we do business or expect to do business in the future. Those jurisdictions may attempt to apply such laws extraterritorially or through treaties or other arrangements with European governmental entities. We might unintentionally violate such laws, such laws may be modified and new laws may be enacted in the future which may increase the chance that we violate them. For example, each of the GDPR and the U.K. GDPR contains rules relating to the collection and processing of personal information, which are not identical to the current rules under national privacy laws and which contain more strict provisions. Any such developments, or developments stemming from enactment or modification of other laws, or the failure by us to comply with their requirements or to accurately anticipate the application or interpretation of these laws could create material liability to us, result in adverse publicity and negatively affect our medical business.
Our failure to accurately anticipate the application or interpretation of these statutes, regulations and contractual obligations as we develop our medical and other products and services, a failure by us to comply with their requirements (e.g., evolving encryption and security requirements) or an allegation that defects in our medical or other products have resulted in noncompliance by our customers could create material civil and/or criminal liability for us, resulting in adverse publicity and negatively affecting our medical business. Any legislation or regulation in the area of privacy and security of personal information could affect the way we operate and could harm our business. The costs of compliance with, and the other burdens imposed by, these and other laws or regulatory actions may prevent us from selling our solutions or increase the costs associated with selling our products and services, and may affect our ability to invest in or jointly develop our products and services in the United States, the European Union and in foreign jurisdictions. Further, we cannot assure you that our privacy and security policies and practices will be sufficient to protect us from liability or adverse publicity relating to the privacy and security of personal information.
Risks Related to Our Materialise Medical Segment and Regulatory Environment
Our medical business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be significantly and negatively affected by substantial government regulations.
Our medical products are subject to rigorous regulation by the European Commission, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, and numerous other applicable governmental authorities. In general, the development, testing, manufacturing and marketing of our medical products are subject to extensive regulation and review by numerous governmental authorities in the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Japan and Australia, and in other markets where we are currently active or may become active in the future. The regulatory process requires the expenditure of significant time, effort and expense to bring new medical products to market, and we cannot be certain that we will receive regulatory approvals, certifications or registrations in any country in which we plan to market our medical products.
The laws and regulations, including the requirements for approvals, certifications or registrations and the time required for regulatory review, vary from country to country. For example, to market our medical products within the member states of the European Union, we are required to comply with the European Medical Device Directive. Under the European Medical Device Directive, all medical devices except custom-made and investigational devices must bear the CE mark. To obtain authorization to affix the CE mark to our medical products, a recognized European notified body must assess our quality systems and the product’s conformity to the requirements of the European Medical Device Directive. This process has been impacted by the general lack of capacity of notified bodies properly designated under the E.U. Medical Device Regulation, which became effective on May 26, 2021. These issues may delay the (re)certification and commercialization of our new or updated medical products in the European Economic Area, or EEA. Similarly, in the United States, we are required to obtain clearance or approval from the FDA prior to marketing our medical products.
The regulatory approval process outside the European Union and the United States may include all of the risks associated with obtaining CE or FDA clearance or approval in addition to other risks. Clearance or approval by the FDA in the United States, or conformity assessment and affixing a CE mark in the EEA does not ensure approval or certification by regulatory authorities in other countries, and approval or certification by one foreign regulatory authority does not ensure approval by regulatory authorities in other countries. We may be required to perform additional pre-clinical or clinical studies even if FDA clearance or approval, or the right to bear the CE label, has been obtained. We may not obtain regulatory approvals or certifications outside the European Union and the United States on a timely basis, if at all. If we fail to receive necessary approvals to commercialize our medical products in jurisdictions outside the European Union and the United States on a timely basis, or at all, our medical business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
As a manufacturer of medical devices, we participate in the Medical Device Single Audit Program, or MDSAP, which is a prerequisite for market entry in Canada, and which makes results from external audits by an accredited auditing organization available to the regulatory authorities of the United States, Canada, Brazil, Japan and Australia. A single audit is used in lieu of multiple separate audits or inspections by participating regulatory authorities or their representatives, reducing the overall number of audits or inspections. However, the auditing organization must inform regulatory authorities directly when certain non-conformity thresholds are reached, enabling participating regulatory authorities to immediately undertake actions appropriate for their jurisdictions.
In addition, we are required to implement and maintain stringent reporting, labelling and record keeping procedures and make our facilities and operations subject to periodic inspections, both scheduled and unannounced, by the regulatory authorities. The medical device industry is also subject to a myriad of complex laws and regulations governing reimbursement, which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in the European Union and which includes Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement in the United States as well as healthcare fraud and abuse laws, with these laws and regulations being subject to interpretation. In many instances, the industry does not have the benefit of significant regulatory or judicial interpretation of these laws and regulations. In certain public statements, governmental authorities have taken positions on issues for which little official interpretation was previously available. Some of these positions appear to be inconsistent with common practices within the industry but that have not previously been challenged.
Various governmental agencies have become increasingly vigilant in recent years in their investigation of various business practices. Governmental and regulatory actions against us can result in various actions that could adversely impact our medical operations, including:
|●||the recall or seizure of products;|
|●||the suspension or revocation of the authority necessary for the production or sale of a product;|
|●||the delay of our ability to introduce new products into the market;|
|●||the suspension of shipments from particular manufacturing facilities;|
|●||the issuance of warning letters or untitled letters;|
|●||the imposition of operating restrictions;|
|●||the imposition of injunctions, fines and penalties;|
|●||the exclusion of our products from being reimbursed by healthcare programs in the European Union or U.S. federal and state healthcare programs (such as Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration health programs and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services);|
|●||the delay or denial of customs clearance of our products for import in certain jurisdictions; and|
|●||other civil or criminal sanctions against us.|
Failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements could also result in civil actions against us and other unanticipated expenditures. Any of these actions, in combination or alone, or even a public announcement that we are under investigation for possible violations of these laws, could have a material adverse effect on our medical business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. If investigated, we cannot assure that the costs of defending or resolving those investigations or proceedings would not have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
In many of the countries in which we market our medical products, we are subject to regulations affecting, among other things, clinical efficacy, product standards, packaging requirements, labelling requirements, import/ export restrictions, tariff regulations, duties and tax requirements. Many of the regulations applicable to our medical surgical guides, models, implants and software products in these countries are similar to those of the European Commission and the FDA. In addition, in many countries the national health or social security organizations require our medical products to be qualified before they can be marketed with the benefit of reimbursement eligibility. Failure to receive or delays in the receipt of relevant foreign qualifications also could have a material adverse effect on our medical business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
As the government regulators in the European Union, United States and elsewhere have become increasingly stringent, we may be subject to more rigorous regulation by governmental authorities in the future.
Modifications to our medical products marketed in the United States may require new 510(k) clearances or premarket approvals, or may require us to cease marketing or recall the modified products until clearances are obtained.
Any modification to a 510(k)-cleared device that could significantly affect its safety or efficacy, or that would constitute a major change in its intended use, technology, materials, packaging and certain manufacturing processes, may require a new 510(k) clearance or, possibly, a premarket approval, or PMA. The FDA requires every manufacturer to make the determination regarding the need for a new 510(k) clearance or PMA in the first instance, but the FDA may (and often does) review the manufacturer’s decision. The FDA may not agree with a manufacturer’s decision regarding whether a new clearance or approval is necessary for a modification, and may retroactively require the manufacturer to submit a premarket notification requesting 510(k) clearance or an application for PMA. We have made modifications to our medical products in the past and may make additional modifications in the future that we believe did not or will not require additional clearances or approvals. No assurance can be given that the FDA will agree with any of our decisions not to seek 510(k) clearance or PMA. If the FDA requires us to cease marketing and recall the modified device until we obtain a new 510(k) clearance or PMA, our medical business, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects could be materially adversely affected. Further, our medical products could be subject to recall if the FDA determines, for any reason, that our products are not safe or effective. Any recall or FDA requirement that we seek additional approvals or clearances could result in significant delays, fines, increased costs associated with modification of a product, loss of revenue and potential operating restrictions imposed by the FDA.
Healthcare policy changes, including legislation to reform the U.S. healthcare system, could adversely affect us.
From time to time, legislation is drafted and introduced that could significantly change the statutory provisions governing the clearance or approval, manufacture and marketing of a medical device. In addition, regulations and guidance are often revised or reinterpreted in ways that may significantly affect our medical business and our medical products. It is impossible to predict whether legislative changes will be enacted or regulations, guidance or interpretations changed, and what the impact of such changes, if any, may be.
For instance, in 2010, the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the U.S. Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or collectively, the PPACA, was enacted, which included, among other things, the following measures: a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to oversee, identify priorities in and conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research; reporting and disclosure requirements on device manufacturers for any “transfer of value” made or distributed to prescribers and other healthcare providers, effective March 30, 2013 (referred to as the Physician Sunshine Payment Act); payment system reforms including a national pilot program on payment bundling to encourage hospitals, physicians and other providers to improve the coordination, quality and efficiency of certain healthcare services through bundled payment models, beginning on or before January 1, 2013; and an independent payment advisory board that will submit recommendations to reduce Medicare spending if projected Medicare spending exceeds a specified growth rate. Some of the provisions of the PPACA have yet to be fully implemented, while certain provisions have been subject to U.S. judicial and Congressional challenges. Efforts to repeal and replace the PPACA have been ongoing since the 2016 election, but it is unclear if these efforts will be successful. Since January 2017, former President Trump signed Executive Orders and other directives designed to delay, circumvent or loosen the implementation of certain provisions requirements mandated by the PPACA or otherwise circumvent some of the requirements for health insurance mandated by the PPACA. In addition, as part of the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the “individual mandate,” which required individuals to purchase insurance, was repealed. Furthermore, in December 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas ruled that the PPACA is unconstitutional in its entirety because such individual mandate was repealed, although the U.S. District Court Judge and former President Trump, among others, had acknowledged the ruling would have no immediate effect pending appeal. Thus, the full impact of the PPACA, any law repealing or replacing elements of it, and the political uncertainty surrounding any repeal or replacement legislation on our business remains unclear.
We cannot predict what healthcare programs and regulations will be ultimately implemented at the U.S. federal or state level, or at the E.U. level or within the implementing legislation of the individual E.U. Member States, or the effect of any future legislation or regulation. However, these provisions as adopted could meaningfully change the way healthcare is delivered and financed, and may materially impact numerous aspects of our medical business. In particular, any changes that lower reimbursements or reduce medical procedure volumes could adversely affect our medical business and results of operations.
In addition, in the future there may continue to be additional proposals relating to the reform of the healthcare systems of the United States, the European Union, any individual Member State of the European Union or any other jurisdiction where we may operate. For example, the new E.U. Medical Device Regulation became effective on May 26, 2021. The Medical Device Regulation, among other things:
|●||strengthens the rules on placing devices on the market and reinforce surveillance once they are available;|
|●||establishes explicit provisions on manufacturers’ responsibilities for the follow-up of the quality, performance and safety of devices placed on the market;|
|●||improves the traceability of medical devices throughout the supply chain to the end-user or patient through a unique identification number; and|
|●||strengthens rules for the assessment of certain high-risk devices, such as implants, which may have to undergo an additional check by experts before they are placed on the market.|
Transition from the regulation of our products under the current E.U. regulatory framework to regulation under the Medical Device Regulation may require a substantial transition effort by us. In addition, detail as to how certain aspects of the Medical Device Regulation will be applied remains unclear. Failure to update our quality system and regulatory documentation could delay our transition to compliance with the Medical Device Regulation and delay or prevent us from obtaining new CE Certificates of Conformity under the Regulation. As a result, transition from compliance with the current E.U. regulatory framework to the Medical Device Regulation could result in disruption to our business in the European Economic Area, which could adversely affect our business, results of operation and financial condition.
Furthermore, initiatives sponsored by government agencies, legislative bodies and the private sector to limit the growth of healthcare costs, including price regulation and competitive pricing, are ongoing in markets where we do business. We could experience a negative impact on our results of operations due to increased pricing pressure in certain or all of the markets in which we operate. Governments, hospitals and other third party payors could reduce the amount of approved reimbursements for our products. Reductions in reimbursement levels or coverage or other cost-containment measures could unfavorably affect our future results of operations.
The use, including the misuse or off-label use, of our medical services and products may be deemed unauthorized use or improper promotion, which could harm our image in the marketplace or result in injuries that lead to product liability suits and could be costly to our business or result in regulatory sanctions.
Medical decisions may only be made and operations may only be executed by trained professionals who are authorized to do so in the jurisdictions in which they operate.
Our medical services and products are generally designed to support surgeons in the planning and performance of their operations. In our medical software products set up, training and engineering support, we make it very clear that responsibility for medical decisions rests exclusively with the responsible surgeon, who is responsible for carefully reviewing and explicitly approving the surgical plan and/or the design of the medical device that is proposed by our software and engineers. Nonetheless, we cannot assure that patients, hospitals, surgeons or other parties will not try to hold us responsible for all or a part of the medical decisions underlying the operations that we support, exposing us to potential litigation or civil and criminal liability for unauthorized medical decision-making. Such actions or liability could lead governmental agencies to conclude that our products or services are used improperly, all of which could significantly damage our reputation and could materially impair the continued adoption of our medical services and product offering in the market.
In the markets in which we operate, our medical promotional materials and training methods must comply with numerous applicable laws and regulations, including the prohibition on the promotion of a medical device for a use that has not been cleared or approved by the relevant regulator or supervisory body. Use of a device outside of its cleared or approved indication is known as “off-label” use. If a relevant governmental authority determines that our medical promotional materials or training constitute promotion of an off-label use, it could request that we modify our training or promotional materials or subject us to regulatory or enforcement actions, including the issuance of an untitled letter, a warning letter, injunction, seizure, civil fine and criminal penalties. In that event, our reputation could be damaged and adoption of our medical products would be impaired. Although we train our sales force not to promote our medical products for off-label uses, and our instructions for use in all markets specify that our products are not intended for use outside of those indications cleared for use, competent regulatory agency could conclude that we have engaged in off-label promotion. In addition, there may be increased risk of injury if surgeons attempt to use our medical products off-label.
Surgeons also may misuse our medical products or use improper techniques if they are not adequately trained, potentially leading to injury and an increased risk of product liability. Product liability claims are expensive to defend and could divert our management’s attention and result in substantial damage awards against us. Any of these events could adversely affect our medical business, results of operations and reputation and our ability to attract and retain customers for our products and services.
If our marketed medical devices are defective or otherwise pose safety risks, the relevant governmental authorities could require their recall, or we may initiate a recall of our products voluntarily.
The relevant governmental authorities may require the recall of commercialized products in the event of material deficiencies or defects in design or manufacture or in the event that a product poses an unacceptable risk to health. Manufacturers, on their own initiative, may recall a product if any material deficiency in a device is found. A government mandated or voluntary recall could occur as a result of an unacceptable risk to health, component failures, manufacturing errors, design or labelling defects or other deficiencies and issues. Recalls of any of our medical products would divert managerial and financial resources and have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Any recall could impair our ability to produce our medical products in a cost-effective and timely manner in order to meet our customers’ demands. We also may be required to bear other costs or take other actions that may have a negative impact on our future revenue and our ability to generate profits. We may initiate voluntary recalls involving our medical products in the future that we determine do not require notification of the relevant regulatory body. If a governmental agency disagrees with our determinations, they could require us to report those actions as recalls. A future recall announcement could harm our reputation with customers and negatively affect our revenue. In addition, the relevant authority could take enforcement action for failing to report the recalls when they were conducted.
Alternative medical solutions could outperform the solutions we offer, rendering our solutions obsolete.
Our Materialise Medical segment products and services compete with other innovative technologies that offer similar medical solutions. In addition, many of our competitors are continuing to innovate in the subsegments of the market that we seek to address. For example, our 3D printed surgical guides compete with robotics and navigational solutions, which offer alternative methods to guide a surgeon during an intervention. These current and future alternative technological solutions could outperform the solutions we offer and render our solutions, obsolete.
If our Materialise Medical segment products cause or contribute to a death or a serious injury, or malfunction in certain ways, we will be subject to medical device reporting regulations, which can result in voluntary corrective actions or agency enforcement actions.
Under the FDA medical device reporting regulations, or MDR, we are required to report to the FDA any incident in which our medical product has malfunctioned and would be likely to cause or contribute to a death or serious injury if the malfunction happened again. If we fail to report these events to the FDA within the required timeframes, or at all, the FDA could take enforcement action against us. Any adverse event involving our medical products could result in future voluntary corrective actions, such as recalls or customer notifications, or agency action, such as inspection, mandatory recall or other enforcement action. Any corrective action, whether voluntary or involuntary, as well as defending ourselves in a lawsuit, will require the dedication of our time and capital, distract management from operating our business, and may harm our reputation and financial results.
In the EEA, we must comply with the E.U. Medical Device Vigilance System, the purpose of which is to improve the protection of health and safety of patients, users and others by reducing the likelihood of reoccurrence of incidents related to the use of a medical device. Under this system, incidents must be reported to the competent authorities of the Member States of the EEA. An incident is defined as any malfunction or deterioration in the characteristics and/or performance of a device, as well as any inadequacy in the labelling or the instructions for use which, directly or indirectly, might lead to or might have led to the death of a patient or user or of other persons or to a serious deterioration in their state of health. Incidents are evaluated by the EEA competent authorities to whom they have been reported, and where appropriate, information is disseminated between them in the form of National Competent Authority Reports. The E.U. Medical Device Vigilance System is further intended to facilitate a direct, early and harmonized implementation of Field Safety Corrective Actions, or FSCAs, across the Member States of the EEA where the device is in use. An FSCA is an action taken by a manufacturer to reduce a risk of death or serious deterioration in the state of health associated with the use of a medical device that is already placed on the market. An FSCA may include the recall, modification, exchange, destruction or retrofitting of the device. FSCAs must be communicated by the manufacturer or its legal representative to its customers and/or to the end users of the device through Field Safety Notices.
Our Materialise Medical segment’s 3D printing operations are required to operate within a quality management system that is compliant with the regulations of various jurisdictions, including the requirements of ISO 13485, and the U.S. Quality System Regulation, which is costly and could subject us to enforcement action.
We are subject to the regulations of various jurisdictions regarding the manufacturing process for our medical products, including the requirements of ISO 13485. Within the United States, we are required to comply with the Quality System Regulation, which covers, among other things, the methods of documentation of the design, testing, production, control, quality assurance, labelling, packaging, sterilization, storage and shipping of our medical products. Compliance with these regulations is costly and time-consuming. In addition, the FDA enforces the Quality System Regulation through periodic announced and unannounced inspections of manufacturing facilities. The failure by a manufacturer to comply with applicable statutes and regulations administered by the FDA and other regulatory bodies, or the failure to timely and adequately respond to any adverse inspectional observations or product safety issues, could result in, among other things, any of the following enforcement actions:
|●||untitled letters, warning letters, fines, injunctions, consent decrees and civil penalties;|
|●||customer notifications or repair, replacement, refunds, recall, detention or seizure of our medical products;|
|●||operating restrictions or partial suspension or total shutdown of production;|
|●||refusing or delaying requests for 510(k) clearance or PMA of new products or modified products;|
|●||withdrawing 510(k) clearances or PMAs that have already been granted;|
|●||refusal to grant export approval for our medical products; or|
Any regulatory enforcement actions could impair our ability to produce our medical products in a cost-effective and timely manner in order to meet our customers’ demands. We also may be required to bear other costs or take other actions that may have a negative impact on our future revenue and our ability to generate profits. Furthermore, our key component suppliers may not currently be or may not continue to be in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements, which could result in our failure to produce our medical products on a timely basis and in the required quantities, if at all.
We may be subject to or otherwise affected by U.S. federal and state, European or other healthcare laws, including fraud and abuse and health information privacy and security laws, and could face substantial penalties if we are unable to fully comply with such laws.
Healthcare regulation by U.S. federal and state, European or other governments could significantly impact our medical business. Healthcare fraud and abuse and health information privacy and security laws potentially applicable to our medical operations include:
|●||the U.S. federal Anti-Kickback Law, which constrains our marketing practices and those of our independent sales agencies, educational programs, pricing, bundling and rebate policies, grants for physician-initiated trials and continuing medical education, and other remunerative relationships with healthcare providers, by prohibiting, among other things, soliciting, receiving, offering or providing remuneration, intended to induce the purchase or recommendation of an item or service reimbursable under a U.S. federal healthcare program, such as the Medicare or Medicaid programs;|
|●||U.S. federal false claims laws which prohibit, among other things, knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, claims for payment from Medicare, Medicaid, or other third party payors that are false or fraudulent;|
|●||HIPAA, and its implementing regulations, which created federal criminal laws that prohibit executing a scheme to defraud any healthcare benefit program or making false statements relating to healthcare matters and which also imposes certain regulatory and contractual requirements regarding the privacy, security and transmission of individually identifiable health information;|
|●||U.S. state laws analogous to each of the above federal laws, such as anti-kickback and false claims laws that may apply to items or services reimbursed by any third party payor, including commercial insurers, and state laws governing the privacy and security of certain health information, many of which differ from each other in significant ways and often are not pre-empted by HIPAA, thus complicating compliance efforts; and|
|●||similar foreign laws and regulations governing healthcare fraud and abuse, patient data privacy, interactions with healthcare professionals and related laws and regulations that apply to us in the countries in which we operate.|
If our past or present operations are found to be in violation of any of such laws or any other governmental regulations that may apply to us, we may be subject to penalties, including civil and criminal penalties, damages, fines, exclusion from U.S. federal healthcare programs and the curtailment or restructuring of our operations. Similarly, if the healthcare providers or entities with whom we do business are found to be non-compliant with applicable laws, they may be subject to sanctions, which could also have a negative impact on us. Any penalties, damages, fines, curtailment or restructuring of our operations could adversely affect our ability to operate our medical business and our financial results. The risk of our company being found in violation of these laws is increased by the fact that many of them have not been fully interpreted by the regulatory authorities or the courts, and their provisions are open to a variety of interpretations. Further, the PPACA, among other things, amends the intent requirement of the U.S. federal anti-kickback and criminal health care fraud statutes. A person or entity no longer needs to have actual knowledge of this statute or specific intent to violate it. In addition, the PPACA provides that the government may assert that a claim including items or services resulting from a violation of the U.S. federal anti-kickback statute constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of the false claims statutes. Any action against us for violation of these laws, even if we successfully defend against them, could cause us to incur significant legal expenses and divert our management’s attention from the operation of our business.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
If we are unable to obtain patent protection for our products or otherwise protect our intellectual property rights, our business could suffer.
We rely on a combination of patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, confidentiality and other contractual arrangements with our employees, end-users and others to maintain our competitive position. Our success depends, in part, on our ability to obtain patent protection for or maintain as trade secrets our proprietary products, technologies and inventions and to maintain the confidentiality of our trade secrets and know-how, operate without infringing upon the proprietary rights of others and prevent others from infringing upon our business proprietary rights.
Despite our efforts to protect our proprietary rights, it is possible that competitors or other unauthorized third parties may obtain, copy, use or disclose or otherwise circumvent our technologies, software, inventions, processes or improvements. We cannot assure investors that any of our existing or future patents or other intellectual property rights will be enforceable, will not be challenged, invalidated or circumvented, or will otherwise provide us with meaningful protection or any competitive advantage. In addition, our pending patent applications may not be granted, and we may not be able to obtain foreign patents or elect to file applications corresponding to our U.S., European or other patents. We intend to expand our business to certain countries that may not provide the same level of patent or other intellectual property protection as the United States and the European Union. Even if we assert our patents or obtain additional patent or similar protection in such countries, effective enforcement of such patents or other rights may not be available. If our patents do not adequately protect our technology, our competitors may be able to offer products or services similar to ours or potential customers may gain illegal access to our proprietary technology. Our competitors may also be able to develop similar technology independently or design around our patents, and we may not be able to detect the unauthorized use of our proprietary technology or take appropriate steps to prevent such use. Any of the foregoing events would lead to increased competition and lower revenue or gross margins, which could adversely affect our results of operations.
Moreover, ongoing changes to the U.S. patent laws may impact our ability to obtain and enforce our intellectual property rights. In recent years, the courts have interpreted U.S. patent laws and regulations differently, and in particular the U.S. Supreme Court has decided a number of patent cases and continues to actively review more patent cases than it has in the past. Some of these changes or potential changes may not be advantageous for us, and may make it more difficult to obtain adequate patent protection or to enforce our patents against parties using them without a license or payment of royalties. These changes could increase the costs and uncertainties surrounding the prosecution of our patent applications and the enforcement or defense of our patent rights, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
We may not be able to protect our trade secrets and intellectual property.
While some of our technology is licensed under patents belonging to others or is covered by process patents which are owned or applied for by us, much of our technology is not protected by patents. Furthermore, patents are jurisdictional in nature and therefore only protect us in certain markets, rather than globally. We have devoted substantial resources to the development of our technology, trade secrets, know-how and other unregistered proprietary rights. While we enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements intended to protect such rights, such agreements can be difficult and costly to enforce or may not provide adequate remedies if violated. Such agreements may be breached and confidential information may be willfully or unintentionally used or disclosed in violation of the agreements, or our competitors or other parties may learn of the information in some other way. We cannot legally prevent one or more other companies from developing similar or identical technology to our unpatented technology and accordingly, it is likely that, over time, one or more other companies may be able to replicate our technology, thereby reducing our technological advantages. If we do not protect our technology or are unable to develop new technology that can be protected by patents or as trade secrets, we may face increased competition from other companies, which may adversely affect our results of operations.
We may incur substantial costs enforcing or acquiring intellectual property rights and defending against third party claims as a result of litigation or other proceedings.
In connection with the enforcement of our intellectual property rights, opposing third parties from obtaining patent rights or disputes related to the validity or alleged infringement of our or third party intellectual property rights, including patent rights, we have been and may in the future be subject or party, directly or indirectly, to claims, negotiations or complex, protracted litigation or arbitration proceedings.
While we strive to avoid infringing the intellectual property rights of third parties, we cannot provide any assurances that we will be able to avoid any claims, directed against us directly or against our collaboration partners or our other customers, that our products and technology, including the technology that we license from others, infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties. Patent applications in the United States and most other countries are confidential for a period of time until they are published, and the publication of discoveries in scientific or patent literature typically lags behind actual discoveries by several months or more. As a result, the nature of claims contained in unpublished patent filings around the world is unknown to us, and we cannot be certain that we were the first to conceive inventions covered by our patents or patent applications or that we were the first to file patent applications covering such inventions. Furthermore, it is not possible to know in which countries patent applicants may choose to extend their filings under the Patent Cooperation Treaty or other mechanisms or to predict the final scope of protection that may result from pending patent applications. Moreover, the patent landscape in the different fields in which we operate is heavily occupied and freedom to operate examinations are costly and time-consuming. We have not obtained extensive freedom to operate reports in the past for each and all of our products and services, nor do we intend to install on a general basis freedom to operate examinations for our future products and services. In addition, we may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims from non-practicing entities, individuals, vendors and other companies, including those that are in the business of asserting patents, but are not commercializing products or services in the different fields in which we operate, or our collaboration partners or our other customers may seek to invoke indemnification obligations to involve us in such intellectual property infringement claims. Furthermore, although we maintain certain procedures to help to ensure that the items we 3D print on behalf of customers do not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of others, we cannot be certain that our procedures will be effective in preventing any such infringement.
Intellectual property disputes, litigation and arbitration, regardless of the merit or resolution, could cause us to incur significant costs in enforcing, or responding to, defending and resolving such claims. In addition, such claims can be costly and disruptive to our business operations by diverting attention and energies of management and key technical personnel, by prohibiting or otherwise impairing our ability to commercialize new or existing products or services and by increasing our costs of doing business. We may not prevail in any such dispute or litigation, and an adverse decision in any legal action involving intellectual property rights, including any such action commenced by us, could limit the scope of our intellectual property rights and the value of the related technology. Third party claims of intellectual property infringement successfully asserted against us may require us to redesign infringing technology or enter into costly settlement or license agreements on terms that are unfavorable to us, prevent us from manufacturing or licensing certain of our products, subject us to injunctions restricting our sale of products and use of infringing technology, cause severe disruptions to our operations or the markets in which we compete, impose costly damage awards or require indemnification of our sales agents and end-users. In addition, as a consequence of such claims, we may incur significant costs in acquiring the necessary third party intellectual property rights for use in our products and services or developing non-infringing substitute technology. Any of the foregoing developments may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We cannot predict the outcome of an arbitration proceeding in which we are involved.
On November 15, 2021, we received a written notice from counsel for Zimmer Biomet, informing us of Zimmer Biomet’s decision to file a request for arbitration with the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation. Zimmer Biomet believes that we have a contractual obligation pursuant to the terms of our collaboration to indemnify Zimmer Biomet for the expenses it incurred as a result of its settlement with Conformis, Inc. of a patent dispute related to certain joint replacement devices. We believe there are meritorious defenses to Zimmer Biomet’s claim and intend to contest it vigorously. However, an adverse resolution of this arbitration could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows in the period in which the arbitration is resolved. No amounts have been accrued for this loss contingency.
Obtaining and maintaining our patent protection depends on compliance with various procedural, documentary, fee payment and other requirements imposed by governmental patent agencies, and our patent protection could be reduced or eliminated for non-compliance with these requirements.
Periodic maintenance fees on any issued patent are due to be paid to governmental patent agencies, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, in several stages over the lifetime of the patent. The USPTO and various foreign governmental patent agencies require compliance with a number of procedural, documentary, fee payment and other similar provisions during the patent application process. While an inadvertent lapse can in many cases be cured by payment of a late fee or by other means in accordance with the applicable rules, there are situations in which noncompliance can result in lapse of the patent or patent application, resulting in partial or complete loss of patent rights in the relevant jurisdiction. Non-compliance events that could result in lapse of a patent or patent application include, but are not limited to, failure to respond to official actions within prescribed time limits, non-payment of fees and failure to properly legalize and submit formal documents. If we or our licensors fail to maintain the patents and patent applications covering our products and processes, our competitive position could be adversely affected.
We may be subject to claims that our employees have wrongfully used or disclosed alleged trade secrets.
Certain of our past and present employees were previously employed at other companies, including our competitors or potential competitors. Some of these employees executed proprietary rights, non-disclosure and non-competition agreements in connection with such previous employment. Although we try to ensure that our employees do not use the proprietary information or know-how of others in their work for us, we may be subject to claims that we or these employees have used or disclosed intellectual property, including trade secrets or other proprietary information, of any such employee’s former employer.
We are not aware of any threatened or pending claims related to these matters, but in the future litigation may be necessary to defend against such claims. If we fail in defending any such claims, in addition to paying monetary damages, we may lose valuable personnel or intellectual property rights. Even if we are successful in defending against such claims, litigation could result in substantial costs and be a distraction to management.
If disputes arise, we could lose rights that are important to our business or be subject to restrictions on the conduct of our business.
We have license agreements with respect to certain intellectual property that is important to our business and that may include exclusivity and non-competition undertakings. Disputes may arise between the counterparties to these agreements and us that could result in termination of these agreements. If we fail to comply with our obligations under our intellectual property-related agreements, or misconstrue the scope of the rights granted to us or restrictions imposed on us under these agreements, the counterparties may have the right to terminate these agreements or sue us for damages or equitable remedies, including injunctive relief. Termination of these agreements, the reduction or elimination of our rights under these agreements, or the imposition of restrictions under these agreements that we have not anticipated may result in our having to negotiate new or reinstated licenses with less favorable terms, or to cease commercialization of licensed technology and products. This could materially adversely affect our business.
Certain technologies and patents have been developed with collaboration partners and we may face restrictions on this jointly developed intellectual property.
We have entered into collaborations with a number of industrial and medical device companies and academic institutions, including Zimmer Biomet, Enovis, DePuy Synthes, Lima, Mathys, Siemens, BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH and HOYA. We have, in some cases individually and in other cases along with our collaboration partners, filed for patent protection for a number of technologies developed under these agreements and may in the future file for further intellectual property protection and/or seek to commercialize such technologies. Under some of these agreements, certain intellectual property developed by us and the relevant partner may be subject to joint ownership by us and the partner and our commercial use of such intellectual property may be restricted, or may require written consent from, or a separate agreement with, the partner. In other cases, we may not have any rights to use intellectual property solely developed and owned by the partner. If we cannot obtain commercial use rights for such jointly-owned intellectual property or partner-owned intellectual property, our future product development and commercialization plans may be adversely affected. For additional information, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Intellectual Property.”
Our use of open source software may expose us to additional risks and harm our intellectual property.
Some of our proprietary software, including some of our 3D printing software, may use or incorporate open source software. Some open source software licenses require users who distribute open source software as part of their own software product to publicly disclose all or part of the source code to such software product or make available any derivative works of the open source code on unfavorable terms or at no cost. We monitor, on an ongoing basis, whether our proprietary software, including that in our 3D printing software, would make use of any open source software that could require us to disclose our proprietary source code, which could adversely affect our business.
Risks Related to the ADSs
The ADSs may experience price and volume fluctuations.
The stock market generally has experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of listed companies. Broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of the ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. The market price and liquidity of the market for the ADSs may be higher or lower than the price you paid and may be significantly affected by numerous factors, some of which are beyond our control. These factors include:
|●||changes in macroeconomic or market conditions or trends in our industry or markets, such as inflation, recessions, the continued rise in interest rates, ongoing supply chain shortages, local and national elections, international currency fluctuations, epidemics and pandemics, corruption, political instability and acts of war, such as the armed conflict in Ukraine, or terrorism;|
|●||significant volatility in the market price and trading volume of securities of companies in our sector, which is not necessarily related to the operating performance of these companies;|
|●||the mix of products that we sell, and related services that we provide, during any period;|
|●||delays between our expenditures to develop and market new products and the generation of sales from those products;|
|●||changes in the amount that we spend to develop, acquire or license new products, technologies or businesses;|
|●||changes in our expenditures to promote our products and services;|
|●||success or failure of research and development projects of us or our competitors;|
|●||announcements of acquisitions by us or one of our competitors;|
|●||the general tendency towards volatility in the market prices of shares of companies that rely on technology and innovation;|
|●||changes in regulatory policies or tax guidelines;|
|●||changes or perceived changes in earnings or variations in operating results; and|
|●||any shortfall in revenue or net income from levels expected by investors or securities analysts.|
Any of these could result in a material decline in the price of the ADSs.
Members of our board of directors and senior management own a significant percentage of our ordinary shares and are able to exert significant influence over matters subject to shareholder approval.
Members of our board of directors and senior management beneficially owned approximately 57.66% of our outstanding ordinary shares (including ordinary shares represented by ADSs), as of March 22, 2023. These shareholders have significant influence over the election of members of our board of directors and the outcome of corporate actions requiring shareholder approval, including dividend policy, mergers, share capital increases, amendments of our restated articles of association and other extraordinary transactions. For example, these shareholders may be able to influence the outcome of elections of members of our board of directors, amendments of our organizational documents, or approval of any merger, sale of assets, or other major corporate transactions. In addition, our restated articles of association provide that, as long as Wilfried Vancraen, our founder and Chief Executive Officer, Hilde Ingelaere, an Executive Vice President of our company who is also Mr. Vancraen’s spouse, and their three children, Linde, Sander and Jeroen Vancraen, or collectively the Family Shareholders, control, directly or indirectly, in the aggregate at least 20% of the voting rights attached to our ordinary shares, a majority of our directors must be appointed by our shareholders from a list of candidates proposed by the Family Shareholders. This concentration of ownership within this group of shareholders and the rights of the Family Shareholders prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our ordinary shares or ADSs that you may feel are in your best interest as one of our shareholders. The interests of these existing shareholders or the Family Shareholders may not always coincide with your interests or the interests of other shareholders, and they may act in a manner that advances their best interests and not necessarily those of other shareholders, including seeking a premium value for their ordinary shares, which might affect the prevailing market price for the ADSs.
The dilutive effect of our warrants could have an adverse effect on the future market price of the ADSs or otherwise adversely affect the interests of our shareholders.
Based on outstanding granted warrants, as of December 31, 2022, there were outstanding granted warrants to subscribe for an aggregate of 77,709 ordinary shares at a weighted average exercise price of €8.37 per share. The warrants likely will be exercised if the market price of the ADSs equals or exceeds the applicable exercise price. To the extent such securities are exercised, additional ordinary shares will be issued, which would dilute the ownership of existing shareholders.
You may not have the same voting rights as the holders of our ordinary shares and may not receive voting materials in time to be able to exercise your right to vote.
Except as described in the deposit agreement related to the ADSs, holders of ADSs are not able to exercise voting rights attaching to the ordinary shares evidenced by the ADSs on an individual basis. Under the terms of the deposit agreement, holders of ADSs may instruct the depositary to vote the ordinary shares underlying their ADSs, but only if we ask the depositary to ask for their instructions. Otherwise, holders of ADSs are not able to exercise their right to vote, unless they withdraw our ordinary shares underlying the ADSs they hold to vote them in person or by proxy. However, holders of ADSs may not know about the meeting far enough in advance to withdraw those ordinary shares. If we ask for the instructions of holders of ADSs, the depositary, upon timely notice from us, will notify holders of ADSs of the upcoming vote and arrange to deliver our voting materials to them. Upon our request, the depositary will mail to holders of ADSs a shareholder meeting notice which contains, among other things, a statement as to the manner in which voting instructions may be given, including an express indication that such instructions may be given or deemed given to the depositary to give a discretionary proxy to a person designated by us if no instructions are received by the depositary from holders of ADSs on or before the response date established by the depositary. However, no voting instruction shall be deemed given and no such discretionary proxy shall be given with respect to any matter as to which we inform the depositary that (i) substantial opposition exists, or (ii) such matter materially and adversely affects the rights of shareholders. We cannot guarantee that holders of ADSs will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that they can instruct the depositary to vote their shares. In addition, the depositary’s liability to holders of ADSs for failing to execute voting instructions or for the manner of executing voting instructions is limited by the deposit agreement. As a result, holders of ADSs may not be able to exercise their right to give voting instructions or to vote in person or by proxy and they may not have any recourse against the depositary or our company if their shares are not voted as they have requested or if their shares cannot be voted.
You may not receive distributions on our ordinary shares represented by the ADSs or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to holders of ADSs.
Under the terms of the deposit agreement, the depositary for the ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on our ordinary shares or other deposited securities after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of our ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, in accordance with the limitations set forth in the deposit agreement, it may be unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to holders of ADSs. We have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of the ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive the distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value from them if it is unlawful or impractical to make them available to you. These restrictions may have a material adverse effect on the value of your ADSs.
We have no present intention to pay cash dividends on our ordinary shares in the foreseeable future and, consequently, your only opportunity to achieve a return on your investment during that time is if the price of the ADSs appreciates.
We have no present intention to pay cash dividends on our ordinary shares in the foreseeable future. Any recommendation by our board of directors to pay cash dividends will depend on many factors, including our financial condition, results of operations, legal requirements and other factors. Furthermore, pursuant to Belgian law, the calculation of amounts available for distribution to shareholders, as dividends or otherwise, must be determined on the basis of our non-consolidated statutory financial statements prepared under generally accepted accounting principles in Belgium, or Belgian GAAP. In addition, in accordance with Belgian law and our restated articles of association, we must allocate each year an amount of at least 5% of our annual net profit under our statutory non-consolidated accounts (prepared in accordance with Belgian GAAP) to a legal reserve until the reserve equals 10% of our share capital. Our legal reserve currently does not meet this requirement. As a consequence of these facts, there can be no assurance as to whether dividends or other distributions will be paid out in the future or, if they are paid, their amount.
As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from a number of rules under the U.S. securities laws and are permitted to file less information with the SEC than U.S. domestic issuers. This may limit the information available to holders of ADSs.
We are a “foreign private issuer,” as defined in the rules and regulations of the SEC and, consequently, we are not subject to all of the disclosure requirements applicable to U.S. domestic issuers. For example, we are exempt from certain rules under the Exchange Act that regulate disclosure obligations and procedural requirements related to the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations applicable to a security registered under the Exchange Act. In addition, our officers, directors and principal shareholders are exempt from the reporting and “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and related rules with respect to their purchases and sales of our securities. Moreover, we are not required to file periodic reports and consolidated financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. domestic issuers. Accordingly, there may be less publicly available information concerning our company than there is for U.S. public companies. As a foreign private issuer, we file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the close of each year ended December 31 and furnish reports on Form 6-K relating to certain material events promptly after we publicly announce these events. However, although we intend to continue to issue quarterly financial information, because of the above exemptions for foreign private issuers, we are not required to do so, and, therefore, our shareholders will not be afforded the same protections or information generally available to investors holding shares in public companies organized in the United States.
We may lose our foreign private issuer status in the future, which could result in significant additional costs and expenses.
As a foreign private issuer, we are not required to comply with all the periodic disclosure and current reporting requirements of the Exchange Act and related rules and regulations. The determination of foreign private issuer status is made annually on the last business day of an issuer’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter. Accordingly, we will next make a determination with respect to our foreign private issuer status on June 30, 2023. There is a risk that we will lose our foreign private issuer status in the future.
We would lose our foreign private issuer status if, for example, more than 50% of our assets are located in the United States and more than 50% of our outstanding ordinary shares are held of record by U.S. residents. As of December 31, 2022, 1.6% of our assets were located in the United States. The regulatory and compliance costs to us under U.S. securities laws as a U.S. domestic issuer may be significantly greater than the costs we incur as a foreign private issuer. If we are not a foreign private issuer, we will be required to file periodic reports and registration statements on U.S. domestic issuer forms with the SEC, which are more detailed and extensive in certain respects than the forms available to a foreign private issuer. We would be required under current SEC rules to prepare our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP and modify certain of our policies to comply with corporate governance practices associated with U.S. domestic issuers. Such conversion and modifications would involve significant additional costs. In addition, we may lose our ability to rely upon exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements on U.S. stock exchanges that are available to foreign private issuers such as the ones described above and exemptions from procedural requirements related to the solicitation of proxies.
If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting in the future, we may not be able to accurately report our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows, which may adversely affect investor confidence in us.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. In particular, we are required, under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to perform system and process evaluations and testing of our internal controls over financial reporting to allow management and our independent registered public accounting firm to report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. This assessment must include disclosure of any material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting identified by our management or our independent registered public accounting firm. A material weakness is a control deficiency, or combination of control deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting that results in more than a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of annual or interim consolidated financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act also generally requires an attestation from our independent registered public accounting firm on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. Our independent registered public accounting firm may issue a report that is adverse in the event it is not satisfied with the level at which our controls are documented, designed or operating. Our remediation efforts may not enable us to avoid a material weakness in the future.
We cannot assure you that there will not be material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting in the future. Any failure to maintain internal control over financial reporting could severely inhibit our ability to accurately report our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. If we are unable to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm determines we have a material weakness or significant deficiency in our internal control over financial reporting, we could lose investor confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, the market price of the ADSs could decline, and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the Nasdaq Stock Market, the SEC or other regulatory authorities. Failure to remedy any material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, or to implement or maintain other effective control systems required of public companies, could also restrict our future access to the capital markets.
We have incurred and will incur significant increased costs as a result of operating as a company whose ADSs are publicly traded in the United States, and our management is required to devote substantial time to new compliance initiatives.
As a company whose ADSs are publicly traded in the United States, we have incurred and will incur significant legal, accounting, insurance and other expenses that we did not incur prior to our initial public offering. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and related rules implemented by the SEC and the Nasdaq Stock Market have imposed various requirements on public companies, including requiring establishment and maintenance of effective disclosure and financial controls. These costs have increased now that we are no longer an emerging growth company eligible to rely on exemptions under the JOBS Act from certain disclosure and governance requirements. Our management and other personnel need to devote a substantial amount of time to these compliance initiatives. Moreover, these rules and regulations increase our legal and financial compliance costs and make some activities more time-consuming and costly. These laws and regulations could also make it more difficult and expensive for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors or its committees. Furthermore, if we are unable to satisfy our obligations as a public company, we could be subject to delisting of the ADSs, fines, sanctions and other regulatory action and potentially civil litigation.
In order to satisfy our obligations as a U.S. public company, we may need to hire or engage additional qualified accounting and financial personnel and consultants with appropriate experience.
As a U.S. public company, we are required to establish and maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. In order to establish and maintain this control environment, we have hired accounting and financial personnel and engaged consultants with experience and technical accounting knowledge, but we may need to hire or engage additional personnel and consultants to further our efforts. It is difficult to recruit and retain qualified personnel and consultants, and our operating expenses and operations have been and may continue to be impacted by the costs of their employment or engagement. Further, these efforts may divert management’s attention from their day-to-day responsibilities.
You may be subject to limitations on the transfer of your ADSs.
Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems doing so expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may close its books from time to time for a number of reasons, including in connection with corporate events such as a rights offering, during which time the depositary needs to maintain an exact number of ADS holders on its books for a specified period. The depositary may also close its books in emergencies, and on weekends and public holidays. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of the ADSs generally when our share register or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary thinks that it is advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason in accordance with the terms of the deposit agreement. As a result, you may be unable to transfer your ADSs when you wish to.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or if they adversely change their recommendations regarding the ADSs, the market price for the ADSs and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for the ADSs is influenced by research or reports that industry or securities analysts publish about our business. If one or more analysts who cover us downgrade the ADSs, the market price for the ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which, in turn, could cause the market price or trading volume for the ADSs to decline.
It may be difficult for investors outside Belgium to serve process on or enforce foreign judgments against us or our directors and senior management.
We are a Belgian limited liability company. None of the members of our board of directors and senior management is a resident of the United States. All or a substantial portion of the assets of such non-resident persons and most of our assets are located outside the United States. As a result, it may not be possible for investors to effect service of process upon such persons or on us or to enforce against them or us a judgment obtained in U.S. courts. Original actions or actions for the enforcement of judgments of U.S. courts relating to the civil liability provisions of the federal or state securities laws of the United States are not directly enforceable in Belgium. The United States and Belgium do not currently have a multilateral or bilateral treaty providing for reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments, other than arbitral awards, in civil and commercial matters. In order for a final judgment for the payment of money rendered by U.S. courts based on civil liability to produce any effect on Belgian soil, it is accordingly required that this judgment be recognized or be declared enforceable by a Belgian court in accordance with Articles 22 to 25 of the 2004 Belgian Code of Private International Law. Recognition or enforcement does not imply a review of the merits of the case and is irrespective of any reciprocity requirement. A U.S. judgment will, however, not be recognized or declared enforceable in Belgium if it infringes upon one or more of the grounds for refusal which are exhaustively listed in Article 25 of the Belgian Code of Private International Law. These grounds mainly require that the recognition or enforcement of the foreign judgment should not be a manifest violation of public policy, that the foreign courts must have respected the rights of the defense, that the foreign judgment should be final, and that the assumption of jurisdiction by the foreign court may not have breached certain principles of Belgian law. In addition to recognition or enforcement, a judgment by a federal or state court in the United States against us may also serve as evidence in a similar action in a Belgian court if it meets the conditions required for the authenticity of judgments according to the law of the state where it was rendered. The findings of a federal or state court in the United States will not, however, be taken into account to the extent they appear incompatible with Belgian public policy.
Holders of ADSs are not treated as shareholders of our company.
Holders of ADSs with underlying shares in a Belgian limited liability company are not treated as shareholders of our company, unless they withdraw our ordinary shares underlying the ADSs that they hold. The depository is the holder of the ordinary shares underlying the ADSs. Holders of ADSs therefore do not have any rights as shareholders of our company, other than the rights that they have pursuant to the deposit agreement.
We are a Belgian limited liability company but are not a listed company in Belgium, and shareholders of our company may have different and in some cases more limited shareholder rights than shareholders of a listed company in Belgium or of a U.S. listed corporation.
We are organized as a limited liability company (naamloze vennootschap / société anonyme) under the laws of Belgium. Our corporate affairs are governed by Belgian corporate law. From a Belgian corporate law point of view, we do not qualify as a listed company (genoteerde vennootschap / société cotée) because none of our securities are listed on any regulated market in the EEA. The Belgian corporate law provisions that are applicable to Belgian listed companies do therefore not apply to us. Furthermore, we are not subject to most of the disclosure obligations applicable to Belgian listed companies. As a result, shareholders of our company may not enjoy certain of the rights and protection generally afforded to shareholders of a Belgian listed company. You should also be aware that the rights provided to our shareholders under Belgian corporate law and our restated articles of association differ in certain respects from the rights that you would typically enjoy as a shareholder of a U.S. corporation under applicable U.S. federal and state laws.
Under Belgian corporate law, except in certain limited circumstances, our shareholders may not ask for an inspection of our corporate records, while under Delaware corporate law any shareholder, irrespective of the size of his or her shareholdings, may do so. Shareholders of a Belgian corporation are also unable to initiate a derivative action, a remedy typically available to shareholders of U.S. companies, in order to enforce a right of our company, in case we fail to enforce such right ourselves, other than in certain cases of director liability under limited circumstances. In addition, a majority of our shareholders may release a director from any claim of liability we may have, including if he or she has acted in bad faith or has breached his or her duty of loyalty, provided, in some cases, that the relevant acts were specifically mentioned in the convening notice to the shareholders’ meeting deliberating on the discharge. In contrast, most U.S. federal and state laws prohibit a company or its shareholders from releasing a director from liability altogether if he or she has acted in bad faith or has breached his or her duty of loyalty to the company. Finally, Belgian corporate law does not provide any form of appraisal rights in the case of a business combination. For additional information on these and other aspects of Belgian corporate law and our restated articles of association, see “Item 10. Additional Information—B. Memorandum and Articles of Association.” As a result of these differences between Belgian corporate law and our restated articles of association, on the one hand, and U.S. federal and state laws, on the other hand, in certain instances, you could receive less protection as a shareholder of our company than you would as a shareholder of a U.S. corporation.
As a foreign private issuer, we are not subject to certain Nasdaq Stock Market corporate governance rules applicable to U.S. listed companies.
We rely on provisions in the Listing Rules of the Nasdaq Stock Market that permit us to follow our home country corporate governance practices with regard to certain aspects of corporate governance. This allows us to follow Belgian corporate law and the Belgian Code of Companies and Associations, which differ in significant respects from the corporate governance requirements applicable to U.S. companies listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. See “Item 16G. Corporate Governance.”
Holders of ADSs or ordinary shares have limited rights to call shareholders’ meetings or to submit shareholder proposals, which could adversely affect their ability to participate in the governance of our company.
Except under limited circumstances, only the board of directors may call a shareholders’ meeting. Shareholders who collectively own at least 10% of the ordinary shares of our company may require the board of directors or the statutory auditor to convene a special or an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders. As a result, the ability of individual holders of the ADSs or ordinary shares to influence the governance of our company is limited.
Holders of the ADSs have limited recourse if we or the depositary fail to meet our respective obligations under the deposit agreement or if they wish to involve us or the depositary in a legal proceeding.
The deposit agreement expressly limits the obligations and liability of us and the depositary. Neither we nor the depositary will be liable to the extent that liability results from the fact that we:
|●||are prevented or hindered in performing any obligation by circumstances beyond their control;|
|●||exercise or fail to exercise discretion under the deposit agreement;|
|●||perform our obligations without negligence or bad faith;|
|●||take any action based upon advice of or information from legal counsel, accountants, any person presenting shares for deposit, any holder of the ADSs or any other qualified person; or|
|●||rely on any documents we believe in good faith to be genuine and properly executed.|
In addition, neither we nor the depositary has any obligation to participate in any action, suit or other proceeding in respect of the ADSs which may involve it in expense or liability unless it is indemnified to its satisfaction. These provisions of the deposit agreement will limit the ability of holders of the ADSs to obtain recourse if we or the depositary fails to meet our respective obligations under the deposit agreement or if they wish to involve us or the depositary in a legal proceeding.
Investors may not be able to participate in equity offerings, and ADS holders may not receive any value for rights that we may grant.
In accordance with Belgian corporate law, our restated articles of association provide for preferential subscription rights to be granted to our existing shareholders to subscribe on a pro rata basis for any issue for cash of new shares, convertible bonds or warrants that are exercisable for cash, unless such rights are cancelled or limited by resolution of our shareholders’ meeting or the board of directors. Our shareholders’ meeting or board of directors may cancel or restrict such rights in future equity offerings. In addition, certain shareholders (including those in the United States, Australia, Canada or Japan) may not be entitled to exercise such rights even if they are not cancelled unless the rights and related shares are registered or qualified for sale under the relevant legislation or regulatory framework. As a result, there is the risk that investors may suffer dilution of their shareholding should they not be permitted to participate in preference right equity or other offerings that we may conduct in the future. We may also limit the exercise of rights by shareholders in certain jurisdictions if we distribute rights in connection with other changes to our capital structure, like a distribution of rights to tender our shares to us for redemption in connection with an issuer tender offer, resulting in such shareholders being unable to participate in such transactions.
If rights are granted to our shareholders, as the case may be, but if by the terms of such rights offering or other transaction, or for any other reason, the depositary may not either make such rights available to any ADS holders or dispose of such rights and make the net proceeds available to such ADS holders, then the depositary may allow the rights to lapse, in which case ADS holders will receive no value for such rights.
Shareholders in jurisdictions with currencies other than the euro face additional investment risk from currency exchange rate fluctuations in connection with their holding of our shares.
Any future payments of cash dividends on shares will be denominated in euro. The U.S. dollar—or other currency—equivalent of any dividends paid on our shares or received in connection with any sale of our shares could be adversely affected by the depreciation of the euro against these other currencies.
We do not expect to be a passive foreign investment company for U.S. federal income tax purposes; however, there is a risk that we may be classified as a passive foreign investment company, which could result in materially adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. investors.
We do not expect to be a passive foreign investment company, or a PFIC. However, the application of complex U.S. federal income tax rules concerning the classification of our assets and income, and the application of these rules is uncertain in some respects. Additionally, certain aspects of the tests will be outside our control; therefore, no assurance can be given that we will not be classified as a PFIC for any taxable year. If you are a U.S. taxpayer and we are determined to be a PFIC at any time during your holding period, you may be subject to materially adverse consequences, including additional tax liability and tax filing obligations. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—U.S. Taxation—Passive Foreign Investment Company.”
Changes in our United States federal income tax classification, or that of our subsidiaries, could result in adverse tax consequences to our 10% or greater U.S. shareholders.
We do not believe that we, or any of our non-U.S. subsidiaries, are controlled foreign corporations, or CFCs, based upon the ADSs or shares owned directly by U.S. shareholders. However, we or certain of our non-U.S. subsidiaries may be classified as CFCs depending on the U.S. holdings of certain of our non-U.S. shareholders. This classification could cause significant and adverse U.S. tax consequences for our U.S. shareholders that own, or are considered to own, as a result of the attribution rules, 10% or more of the voting power or value of the stock of us or our non-U.S. subsidiaries, or a 10% U.S. shareholder, or any person who becomes a 10% U.S. shareholder under the U.S. Federal income tax law applicable to owners of CFCs. Therefore, we would advise our 10% U.S. shareholders (if any) and persons considering becoming 10% U.S. shareholders to consult their tax advisors regarding the U.S. Federal income tax law applicable to owners of CFCs.
ITEM 4.INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
|A.||History and Development of the Company|
Materialise NV was incorporated in Belgium on June 28, 1990 as a limited liability company under Belgian company law.
In January 2022, we filed a voluntary application to strike Materialise UK off the UK company register. A notice in this respect was published in The London Gazzette on February 8, 2022. As a result, Materialise UK has been struck off the register and was dissolved on April 26, 2022.
On September 1, 2022, we acquired Identify3D, Inc., a company that develops software to encrypt, distribute and trace the flow of digital parts across complex supply chains. This acquisition was effected by our U.S. subsidiary, Materialise USA, LLC. The acquisition of Identify3D is intended to strengthen the security features of our CO-AM platform.
On October 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022, respectively, we merged Link3D Inc. and Identify3D, Inc. into Materialise USA, LLC, as a result of which Link3D and Identify3D ceased to exist.
Our principal executive and registered offices are located at Technologielaan 15, 3001 Leuven, Belgium. Our telephone number is +32 (16) 39 66 11. We are registered with the Register of Legal Entities of Leuven under the number 0441.131.254. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Materialise USA, LLC, located at 44650 Helm Ct., Plymouth, Michigan 48170, telephone number (734) 259-6445. Our internet website is www.materialise.com. The information contained on, or accessible through, our website is not incorporated by reference into this annual report and should not be considered a part of this annual report.
The SEC maintains an internet website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov.
Capital Expenditures (Property Plant and Equipment and Intangible Assets)
Our capital expenditures amounted to € 24.8 million, € 11.7 million and € 17.7 million for the years ended December 31, 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively. In 2022, our main capital expenditures were € 7.3 million for our new metal production facility in the United States, € 7.9 million for the expansion of our production capacity in Germany and € 2.4 million for our internal digital transformation program. In 2021, our main capital expenditures were € 1.7 million for our internal digital transformation program, € 1.6 million for a new building in Germany and € 1.0 million for the transformation of our platform architecture which was partially impaired in 2022. In 2020, our main capital expenditures were € 2.8 million for office software and € 2.2 million for our internal digital transformation program, € 4.9 million for the new building in Germany and € 7.1 million for new machinery and installations in Belgium, Germany, Poland, Brazil and the United States.
Our mission is to innovate product development that results in a better and healthier world, through our software and hardware infrastructure, and an in-depth knowledge of additive manufacturing.
We are a leading provider of additive manufacturing and medical software tools and of sophisticated 3D printing services. With our knowledge, products and services, we empower our customers’ use of additive manufacturing technology, in general, and we enable certain specific and significant applications of additive manufacturing, in particular. In both instances, we seek to empower the choice for sustainability through the use of additive manufacturing.
The customers of our general software tools and 3D printing services are active in a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, automotive, aerospace, art and design and consumer products. The significant additive manufacturing applications that we are more deeply and more directly involved in currently include applications for orthopedic, cranio maxillo facial, eyewear, footwear and measurement fixtures.
As of December 31, 2022, our team consisted of 2,439 full-time equivalent employees, or FTEs, and fully dedicated consultants. Our portfolio of intellectual property featured 449 patents and 132 pending patent applications as of December 31, 2022. For the year ended December 31, 2022, we generated € 232.0 million of revenue, representing a 13% increase over the prior year, a net loss of 2.2 million and Adjusted EBITDA of € 19 million. For a description of Adjusted EBITDA and a reconciliation of our net profit to our Adjusted EBITDA, see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Other Financial Information.”
Our Core Competencies
Our established and proven business model integrates our three research-based core competencies: (i) software development, (ii) 3D printing, and (iii) engineering for 3D printing, which act as complementary incubators for our new products and function as integrated support centers for our existing products. The interaction and synergies among our software development, 3D printing and engineering teams position us well to continuously develop and support innovative applications of 3D printing that often integrate all three core competencies.
Software Development (Software). Our expertise in developing 3D printing software originated from our efforts to enable 3D printing applications and to continually improve processes within our own additive manufacturing operations. As a result of our continued deployment over the course of 30 years of human, intellectual and economic capital to software development, a number of our products, including Magics and Mimics, have evolved into industry-leading flagship products. We have an established quality management system for the development of our software products that is ISO 9001:2015 certified. We are also ISO 13485:2016 certified for our medical applications and our medical applications comply with the regulatory requirements of several jurisdictions, including Europe and the United States.
3D Printing (Hardware). As a pioneer in the additive manufacturing industry, we have an extensive history of 3D printing millions of parts utilizing a broad array of technologies, often in highly regulated environments, for thousands of commercial, industrial and medical customers. We operate some of the most sophisticated printing machines currently available on the market, as well as our own proprietary stereolithography-based technology, Mammoth, to provide a very broad range of technologies, sizes, materials and finishing degrees and to address the needs of customers across a large number of potential markets. Production is organized in multiple production lines that are dedicated to the Medical and the Industrial Production segments that we serve. Our 3D printing group, which operates in an ISO 9001:2015-certified quality management system, in an ISO 13485:2016-certified system for the production of medical devices, and in an EN9100:2016 as well as EASA Part 21G POA certified system for the production of plastic aerospace parts, has its own maintenance and research team that utilizes an in-house laboratory facility where products can be tested. The wide variety of products that are processed by our multiple production lines are logistically streamlined through our proprietary database systems that manage the entire process from order intake to 3D printing to final shipment.
Engineering (Mindware). Our engineering expertise is integral to our entire business, as it enhances our software development and 3D printing expertise. Our engineers work in teams that support customers in different market segments. These teams work directly with our customers to identify new, and customize and refine existing, 3D printing applications and to increase productivity, efficiency and ease of use across all aspects of the solutions we provide. Our engineering teams have particular expertise in industrial and medical applications, including patient-specific surgical guides, models and implants with the applicable market clearances. Our teams are highly specialized, especially in the medical field, and include quality controllers, development researchers for new hardware concepts and trainers who bring new engineers to the required level of expertise. Our engineers operate within the framework of a certified quality management system. Our engineering teams make extensive use of our proprietary software tools and have direct access to our 3D printing center where developments can be tested in an actual production environment.
Our Market Segments
We offer our products and services through a market oriented organization that is active across three principal market segments: (i) Materialise Software, (ii) Materialise Medical, and (iii) Materialise Manufacturing. We believe that our customers benefit significantly from the synergistic interplay between our core competencies and the three market segments on which we focus and which provide regular end-user feedback to the product development and support teams within our core competencies.
Our Materialise Software Segment
In our Materialise Software segment, we offer proprietary software worldwide through programs and platforms that enable companies to set up efficient, reliable and sustainable 3D printing production. Our software supports 3D printing service bureaus both large and small that are producing a variety of parts for their customers and addresses the needs of large corporations producing at volume, either through significant serial manufacturing or mass customization. In all of these environments, we believe our software enables both operational excellence and flexibility. We work directly with many 3D printing machine manufacturers to enable and enhance the functionality of 3D printers and of 3D printing operations. We have developed software that interfaces between almost all types of industrial 3D printers, and various software applications and capturing technologies, including CAD/CAM packages and 3D scanners, by enabling data preparation and process planning and execution. Our programs interface with machines manufactured by leading original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, such EOS GmbH, HP Inc., DesktopMetal, Inc., Renishaw PLC, SLM Solutions Group AG, Stratasys Ltd., Trumpf GmbH & Co. KG, Uniontech Corporation, GE Additive and Voxeljet AG. In addition, we have entered into partnership agreements with leading CAD, CAM and product lifecycle management, or PLM, companies such as Siemens, HCL Technologies Ltd., and PTC, for the integration of our additive manufacturing technology into Siemens’ NX software, HCL’s CAMworks, and PTC’s Creo software. This enables the streamlining of the design to manufacturing process for products being produced by additive manufacturing. We have also established connectivity between our software and the software of other providers in the broader 3D printing ecosystem like AM Flow, PostProcess, Castor, AMT, Dyemansion, Additive Marking, Twikit and Trinkle. We offer software that enables our customers to more efficiently organize the entire workflow of a 3D printing operation with multiple 3D printing machines, many operators and complex data flow and logistical requirements. We believe that the capabilities of our software products and their unique compatibility with many 3D printing systems continue to set standards in the professional 3D printing software market. Customers operating machines from multiple OEMs and customers running large 3D printing operations are among those who can benefit the most from our software packages and we believe that in many cases those customers demand compatibility with our software from the systems of OEMs.
As of December 31, 2022, our Materialise Software segment had a team of approximately 339 FTEs and fully dedicated consultants, with approximately 31.9% based at our headquarters in Belgium and the remaining employees distributed throughout our local field offices in China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.
On January 4, 2022, we completed the acquisition of Link3D and began the integration of Link3D into our Materialise Software segment. The completion of this integration will allow us to expedite the realization of our plans for a cloud-based platform.
On September 1, 2022, we completed the acquisition of Identify3D and began the integration of Identify3D into our Software segment. Through this acquisition we are adding a crucial security component to our cloud-based CO-AM platform by offering features designed to ensure the security of 3D files.
Business Model. We generate revenue in our Materialise Software segment from our software licenses, maintenance contracts, hardware controller sales for our Materialise Controllers and custom software development services. Additionally, we offer consultancy and training services. We license our software products to our customers on either a time-based or perpetual basis, in which case we offer annual maintenance contracts that provide for software updates and support. In addition, we also provide a number of cloud-based solutions. Making use of, among others, the cloud-based platform that has been developed by Link3D and that is commercialized under the CO-AM brand, we are significantly accelerating the migration of our software solutions to the cloud, which we intend to offer along with our license-based solutions. We charge our custom software development services either on a time and material or on a fixed-cost basis. For the years ended December 31, 2022, 2021 and 2020, our Materialise Software segment generated revenue of € 43.7 million, € 42.9 million and € 39.1 million, respectively, representing 18.8%, 20.9% and 22.9%, respectively, of our total revenue.
Software Products. We have a diversified portfolio comprised of software applications addressing different 3D printing market opportunities. Our decades of experience in the additive manufacturing industry are reflected in the sophisticated 3D printing software and business management tools we provide for our customers. We believe that each of our software applications is, or has the potential of becoming, one of the leading technologies in its domain. We believe that our neutral platform approach positions our software to drive greater innovation and choice across the 3D printer software ecosystem, and provides 3D printer users with more powerful and flexible printing capabilities.
In particular, we offer the following software applications:
|●||Magics. Magics enables customers to import a wide variety of CAD formats and to export standard tessellation language, or STL, files ready for additive manufacturing. Magics’ applications include repairing and optimizing 3D models; analyzing parts; making process-related design changes on customers’ STL files; designing support structures; documenting customer projects; nesting multiple parts in a single print run; and process planning.|
Our Magics product suite is enhanced with modules that further expand functionality and utility for our customers. For instance, the Magics Import Module plays an important role in efficiently moving CAD designs through to manufactured products by importing nearly all standard CAD formats into Magics. The Magics Structures Module was designed to help customers to reduce weight and material usage in their designs. We also have developed logistical modules such as the Magics SG Module, which offers tools for support structure design during the 3D printing process, and the Magics Sintermodule, which offers solutions for automated part nesting, protecting small and fragile parts and locating them after building. The Magics Simulation Module enables our users to simulate the build process virtually, and optimizes the build preparation based on the results of such simulation, thus reducing build failures and improving the results.
In addition to offering state-of-the-art data preparation functionality to our users, our Magics product suite also focuses on automation and other productivity improvements and brings interconnectivity to machines and enterprise software platforms.
In 2021, we won the 3DPrinting Industry’s “Software Tool or Company of the Year” award for our Magics software.
Specific versions of the Magics application were also brought to the market by us, including Magics Essentials (an entry-level package offering premium data preparation functionality), Magics Print (combining the most important build preparation tools and straightforward build file generation technology) and MiniMagics/MiniMagicsPro (providing viewing, communication and quoting solutions for our customers working in data preparation, or in quoting and quality control teams). Users of Magics Essentials and Magics Print can upgrade to our expert Materialise Magics product suite if they want the full data and build preparation functionality at their disposal in one package.
|●||CO-AM. CO-AM is an additive workflow and digital manufacturing software platform that supports customers in major manufacturing industries and large AM service bureaus to scale and integrate their additive manufacturing operations across complex supply chains and IT environments. At the core of the CO-AM platform is the customers’ project data. The CO-AM platform provides a series of applications that are instrumental to organizations scaling their additive manufacturing capability. These solutions enable organizations to plan, manage, and optimize their operations. The platform includes centralized order management, quoting & costing, production planning, production scheduling, postproduction management, machine connectivity, quality management and manufacturing analytics.|
|●||Streamics. Streamics is our legacy 3D Print planning system that we consider as the predecessor of the CO-AM platform. We are gradually migrating Streamics functionality to our CO-AM platform while also providing a connector between Streamics and CO-AM that will allow current Streamics users to start using CO-AM applications while still making use of Streamics for the planning of their 3D printing capacity. Once the Streamics functionality is fully integrated in CO-AM, a transition plan will be set up to migrate existing Streamics customers to the Link3D platform over the coming years. In the meantime, we will continue to maintain and support Streamics and its customers.|
|●||3-maticSTL. 3-maticSTL is a versatile application that permits, among other things, design modification, design simplification, 3D texturing, re-meshing and forward engineering directly to standard additive manufacturing STL files. Using Materialise consultancy services, targeted design automation solutions can be created for specific workflows.|
|●||Build Processors. We work in close collaboration with a wide variety of 3D printer OEMs to develop customized and integrated solutions for their additive manufacturing machines. Our build processors automatically translate the 3D model data into layer data to provide sliced geometry and can link the latter with the appropriate build parameters to feed the machine control software. Another key benefit of our build processors is that they allow for a two-way communication between Magics and 3D printers. We also develop the metal build processors in Materialise Bremen and as a consequence we are able to cover a wide range of metal 3D printers. Furthermore, licensing and integrating our build processor framework, companies such as Siemens and PTC can also leverage the extensive ecosystem of build processors we have developed together with OEMs. Over the past years, we have transformed the architecture of our build processor to a cloud-native solution. Next to the standard build flows, the architecture also allows for custom fit-for-purpose build pipelines to be scripted, enabling companies and 3D printer machine vendors alike to adapt and optimize the behavior and output of the build processor. We believe this is very valuable in the context of volume production.|
|●||e-Stage. e-Stage is a software solution that increases additive manufacturing productivity by automating STL support generation, optimizing the STL build process, and reducing the time our customers spend on finishing work such as build support removal and sanding. e-Stage is designed to allow our customers to use less material, to be able to 3D nest and to minimize failed builds. e-Stage for plastic has been commercially available since September 2007, and in the fall of 2017, we released e-Stage for metal. In 2018, we won the TCT SOFTWARE AWARD 2018 for e-Stage for metal.|
|●||Materialise Controller. Materialise Controller controls and steers additive manufacturing machines using embedded Materialise software, and is fully integrated into the Materialise 3D printing software platform. It is engineered towards research and development applications, machine manufacturers and those who want to control or adapt the production process to their specific needs.|
|●||Materialise Storefront. A new cloud-based e-commerce solution connected to CO-AM, which automates the intake and sales process of 3D printing factories and facilitates communication with customers. Storefront supports automatic and manual price calculation and quoting, AM data preparation, order management and integration with payment and shipment providers.|
|●||Materialise Process Tuner. an intuitive online platform that helps manufacturing companies, service bureaus and machine builders speed up the process tuning that is required for mass-manufacturing 3D printed parts. The Materialise Process Tuner can be accessed via a web-browser as well as through an API, making it the company’s first cloud-native Magics application. Companies can also choose to deploy and run the application on site.|
|●||Materialise Process Tuner. An intuitive online platform that helps manufacturing companies, service bureaus and machine builders speed up the process tuning that is required for mass-manufacturing 3D printed parts.|
|●||Materialise Workflow Automation. This solution enables the user to leverage the full power of the Materialise Software technology (as also available through Materialise Magics) in creating specific end-to-end workflows, which can be executed automatically and autonomously, or can be called from other software solutions like Magics. Workflow Automation provides the possibility to script simple workflows or to create complex business process workflows using a graphical user interface. The workflows can be executed in the cloud, on premise or on the user’s workstation.|
|●||Identify3D. Identify3D is a suite of products that plugs into CO-AM and that allows customers to secure datasets throughout the full end-to-end process of 3D printing. Securing the data means adding a digital rights management tool on top of the part data, which protects the geometrical information of the data, but can be extended as well with process information (e.g., the number of times a file can be printed or the exact specifications how the file must be printed). Data security is gaining importance both because an increasing number of components are serially produced through additive manufacturing as well as with the growing importance of decentralized additive manufacturing production.|
Sales and Marketing. We market and distribute our software directly through our sales force as well as through our own website and third party distributors. Our Belgian team oversees our global marketing strategy and sales processes. Our local field office employees manage sales for particular markets and provide pre- and post-sales technical support to our customers. We also utilize a growing network of distributors and resellers to bring our solutions to specific regions or market segments. In addition, machine manufacturers and their local dealers often distribute our software products together with their 3D printers, with our software enhancing the printers’ value proposition and broadening the suite of applications available to the machines.
Customers. The customers for our Materialise Software segment include 3D printing machine manufacturers as well as production companies and contract manufacturers in a variety of industries, such as the automotive, aerospace, consumer goods and hearing aid industries, and external 3D printing service bureaus. Our Materialise Software segment customer base is spread across Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Competition. In our Materialise Software segment, we face indirect competition from the software developed by 3D printing OEMs, which are often more “closed ecosystem”-oriented (i.e., only focused on their own machines), and from companies that offer software that addresses one or more specific functional areas covered by our software solutions, such as providers of traditional CAD solutions. We compete directly with other providers of additive manufacturing management and machine control software, including open source software providers.
Growth Opportunities. We believe that 3D printing will be increasingly used for the manufacturing of complex or customized end parts, and expect that the number of 3D printer manufacturers will increase accordingly, with certain new players initially focusing more on the hardware than on the software component of their 3D printers. Hence, we anticipate that the demand for highly performing industrial 3D printing software platforms will grow accordingly. The new products that we have developed and are developing, including the CO-AM platform, Process Tuner, Workflow Automation and fit-for-purpose build processors specifically address what we believe will be the needs of this growing end part manufacturing market.
We believe that we can continue to expand our market penetration through expanding relationships with customers and OEMs, and through the continued innovation of our software products to adapt to and meet market demands. In order to be able to do so, we intend to bring our teams closer to our customer base worldwide, which will require continued investments in the expansion of our marketing and sales presence. In order to be able to meet the demands of new entrants on the market and to better address the needs of the end parts market, we also intend to continue to invest significantly in the development of our software tools and solutions, including furthering their compatibility with as many 3D printers on the market as possible.
Our Materialise Medical Segment
In our Materialise Medical segment, our product and services offering addresses what we believe to be long-term trends in the medical industry towards personalized, functional and evidence-based medicine.
As of December 31, 2022, our Materialise Medical segment consisted of approximately 888 FTEs and fully dedicated consultants, with approximately 24.0% based at our headquarters in Belgium and the remaining employees distributed throughout our local offices in Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Business Model. We generate revenue in our Materialise Medical segment through the sale of medical software and personalized medical devices. We sell licenses of our medical software packages and software maintenance contracts and sell medical devices that we customize and print for our customers. We also provide custom software development and engineering services, for which we charge either on a time and material or fixed-cost basis. The majority of the medical devices that we printed in 2022 were surgical guides (and related bone models) that were distributed to surgeons through our collaboration partners such as DePuy Synthes, Smith & Nephew, Stryker and Zimmer Biomet. We also print patient-specific implants that we sell directly to hospitals or distribute through partners such as DePuy Synthes. The customer base for our medical software products includes academic institutions, medical device companies and hospitals.
For the years ended December 31, 2022, 2021 and 2020, our Materialise Medical segment generated revenue of € 84.8 million, € 73.4 million and € 61.7 million, respectively, representing 36.6%, 35.7% and 36.2%, respectively, of our total revenue.
Medical Software. Our software allows medical-image based analysis, planning and engineering as well as patient-specific design and printing of surgical devices and implants. Our customers include leading research institutes, renowned hospitals and major medical device companies. Our medical software packages often serve as an introduction to our capabilities and in certain cases lead to custom software developments and clinical services opportunities. Our medical software packages are:
|●||Materialise Mimics Innovation Suite. The Materialise Mimics Innovation Suite is a complete set of tools developed for biomedical professionals that allows them to perform a multitude of engineering operations based on medical imaging data. The suite consists of several complementary products and services, including Materialise Mimics, Materialise 3-matic, engineering services and medical models, as well as consultancy and custom software development.|
|●||Materialise Mimics. Materialise Mimics is software addressing medical professionals specifically developed for medical image processing that can be used to segment accurate 3D models from medical imaging data (for example, from CT or MRI) to measure accurately in 2D and 3D and to export 3D models for additive manufacturing or to Materialise 3-matic.|
|●||Materialise 3-matic. Materialise 3-matic focuses on anatomical design and is able to combine CAD tools with pre-processing capabilities directly on the anatomical data coming from Materialise Mimics. It enables our customers to conduct thorough 3D measurements and analysis, design a patient-specific implant, a surgical guide, or a benchtop model, and to prepare the anatomical data and/or resulting implants for simulation.|
|●||Materialise OrthoView. Materialise OrthoView is a 2D digital pre-operative planning and templating solution for orthopedic surgeons. The software imports a digital X-ray image from a Picture Archiving and Communication System, or PACS, and positions the templates of suitable prostheses on the X-ray image at the correct scale. Materialise OrthoView currently serves more than 15,000 orthopedic surgeons in 60 countries globally, focusing primarily on joint replacements. We acquired OrthoView Holdings Limited in October 2014, and have included the OrthoView solution in our portfolio of pre-operative planning solutions.|
|●||Materialise Mimics inPrint. With Materialise Mimics inPrint, clinicians can easily create files for 3D printing and use anatomically accurate models to help simulate or evaluate options for patient-specific surgical treatment.|
|●||Materialise ProPlan CMF. Materialise ProPlan CMF is a software package developed for oral, maxillofacial, nose, throat and plastic surgeons. The software allows surgeons to pre-operatively plan their surgeries in 3D based on (CB)CT or MRI images using a set of tools to analyze, measure and reconstruct the patient’s anatomy. With the software the surgeon can also plan the movements (translations and rotations) of the mandible or maxilla and preplan the reconstruction of defects.|
|●||Materialise Mimics Enlight. Materialise Mimics Enlight is a workflow-based planning software that enables companies, clinicians and hospitals to scale 3D planning for procedures. Mimics Enlight is based on the strengths of Materialise’s Mimics Innovation Suite and can be applied in various clinical fields such as structural heart or lung surgery.|
|●||Materialise Surgicase. Materialise Surgicase is an online case management platform that enables medical device companies and hospitals to manage ordering and processing of personalized services and devices.|
Clinical Services and Personalized Medical Devices. Using our FDA-cleared and CE compliant medical software, we analyze 3D medical images of patients and provide doctors with virtual surgical planning services for their review and approval. In most cases, we also design and 3D print surgical guides that uniquely fit a specific patient and allow the surgeon to conduct the operation in accordance with the approved surgical plan. In certain circumstances, we deliver 3D printed customized patient-specific medical implants.
In our 3D printing centers in Belgium, Japan, Brazil, and the United States, we have separate production lines for our Materialise Medical segment.
We believe that our medical image-based simulation and planning software and 3D printing technology can assist hospitals and clinicians in providing personalized care to patients which can contribute to increased quality of life.
In many cases, surgeons using our clinical services work together with our clinical engineers to turn their patients’ medical image data into virtual surgical plans, and patient-specific 3D printed precise surgical and customized anatomical models to optimize intervention planning. For indications such as shoulder surgery, we have optimized and automated our 3D planning capabilities to provide surgical plans within a short timeframe and at a high quality that does not require an anatomical model to be provided. Utilizing our SurgiCase tool, surgeons upload CT or MRI medical image data and submit their cases to us, track their cases and review them as interactive virtual 3D models. In the framework of our collaborations with certain leading medical device companies, our SurgiCase tool is rebranded and adapted to the specific product offering and needs of our collaboration partners.
In many cases surgeons use personalized surgical guides or implants to translate the surgical plan into the operating room. Our 3D printed surgical guides include joint replacement guides for knee, shoulder and hip replacement surgeries, osteotomy guides and CMF guides, and our 3D printed implants include hip-revision implants, shoulder and CMF implants. The surgical guides and implants we print for U.S. based patients are FDA-cleared, and to the extent required by law, our medical devices for EEA-based patients bear the appropriate CE labels.
We address large surgical markets in orthopedics and CMF through collaboration agreements with leading medical device companies, including DePuy Synthes, Zimmer Biomet, Enovis, and Smith & Nephew. Pursuant to these agreements, we print joint replacement and/or CMF guides that our collaboration partners distribute under their own brands, together with their own implants, in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Latin America, Europe, China, Japan and Australia. We leverage our collaboration partners’ distribution capabilities to extend our reach into these large markets, and our collaboration partners utilize our 3D printing-related expertise to provide surgical planning and customized devices to surgeons.
We also address certain high value-added, specialty applications by providing the full solution ourselves, including the delivery of implants and guides directly to the hospital or surgeon. Such applications include customized CMF implants and guides, hip revision and shoulder implants in a patented porous matrix configuration and osteotomy guides. Through Engimplan, we distribute implants and instruments in Brazil, offering both traditional and 3D printed CMF products as well as a broader portfolio that includes product lines for trauma and sport medicine.
We also work with customers to print anatomical models that may be used for a wide range of applications such as sizing of medical devices, clinical trials, training, patient communications and marketing.
Sales and Marketing. We distribute our medical software through our direct sales force, our website and PACS partners (some of which partners also include our OrthoView solutions in their product offering to hospitals) and sell our medical devices through our agreements with collaboration partners such as Zimmer Biomet and Depuy Synthes. In specialty markets, we market and distribute our 3D printed medical devices and other clinical services through our experienced engineers who develop a close collaboration with key opinion leaders in each of these market segments.
All our activities in our Materialise Medical segment are coordinated and supervised from our headquarters in Belgium, which supervises product management and sales of our medical devices and software products.
Customers. The customers for our Materialise Medical segment mainly include medical device companies, hospitals, universities, research institutes and industrial companies. We have one individual customer that represents sales larger than 10% of our total revenue in 2022 (2021: 1; 2020: 0) from the Materialise Medical segment.
Collaboration Partners. We collaborate with leading medical device companies and academic institutions for the development and distribution of our surgical planning software, services, and products, such as Zimmer Biomet and DePuy Synthes, as well as Enovis, Integra, Lima, Mathys, Medtronic, Abbott and Corin. Pursuant to these arrangements, we develop and license software and sell surgical planning, guides and implants, including for use in the fields of knee and shoulder replacement, CMF and thoracic procedures that our collaboration partners may then distribute under their own brands, together with their own implants, mainly in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. In addition, we grant licenses to collaboration partners to use, market and distribute such software or surgical guides and implants. Some of the licenses we have granted to our products and software provide for exclusive rights, including with respect to a particular field of medicine or to the software or product developed during the collaboration, and certain collaboration partners may have rights of first refusal with respect to related products or collaborations. The compensation structures under these arrangements vary and may include an upfront fee, royalties, milestone payments linked to certain targets, and fees for the service, maintenance and training we provide in connection with our software and products.
Competition. In our Materialise Medical segment, we compete with a number of companies that provide image based software, 3D printed surgical models or medical devices, such as 3DSystems, Stratasys, Simpleware and Pie Medical as well as with medical device companies that develop and commercialize 3D printed medical devices and related software services.
Growth Opportunities. The Materialise Medical segment is the market where we believe we can most directly realize our mission statement and contribute to a healthier world. We believe that personalized surgical approaches, because they offer the potential of higher predictability and accuracy, lead to improved patient outcomes, fewer complications and increased long-term survival rates. Personalization also drives operational efficiencies by replacing a broad range of instrumentation with tailored versions. This makes surgery more efficient, but also lowers the cost of operational steps like sterilization. Personalized surgical approaches have benefits not only in complex interventions and we believe that personalized solutions will therefore see an increased adoption in the future.
As a result, we are currently investing significantly in the development of new product offerings and the optimization of existing offerings in terms of cost and lead times, as well as in the expansion of our distribution channel in the various sub-segments of our Materialise Medical segment and in new territories.
As a result of the trend that we see in the medical community towards more patient-specific devices and treatments, as well as towards more advanced planning, a growing number of academic, clinical and commercial researchers are focusing on personalized medical treatments. Because these new products and treatments can only be brought to the market in compliance with very strict regulatory requirements, we believe there is an opportunity for safe and stable medical software tools, such as our Mimics Innovation Suite, that can pass significant regulatory scrutiny. We also believe that increasing regulatory requirements provide opportunities for our clinical services as we can leverage our significant medical sector experience and strong quality management systems.
A growing number of hospitals have adopted personalized solutions and built 3D printing facilities on site for point-of-care printing of these personalized solutions. We believe that there is a growing opportunity to provide our clinical services as well as our software solutions and experience in establishing operations to design personalized solutions in compliance with regulatory requirements.
We are investing significantly in the development of new solutions of sub-markets other than orthopedics and CMF, including planning tools for the cardiovascular markets in the shorter term and the respiratory markets in the longer term.
Our Materialise Manufacturing Segment
In our Materialise Manufacturing segment, we primarily offer 3D printing services to industrial and commercial customers, the majority of which are located in Europe. In addition, we have identified, and provide 3D printing services to certain specialty growth markets in both the industrial and consumer marketplaces.
Many of the parts we print require functionality that cannot be delivered using other production processes. We believe that our industrial customers value the high quality, accuracy, complexity, durability, functionality and diversity in terms of size, scale and materials of the 3D printing services that we can offer. We deliver products to highly regulated industries, such as the aerospace, healthcare, machine manufacturing, quality control equipment and consumer goods industries, where our applications, technology and hardware capabilities enable us to adhere to high quality standards in a certified production environment.
As of December 31, 2022, our Materialise Manufacturing segment consisted of 760 FTEs and fully dedicated consultants, with 31% based at our headquarters in Belgium and in Materialise Motion and Rapid Fit. The remaining employees distributed throughout our local field offices in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Poland, Spain, Ukraine, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Business Model. We generate a majority of our revenue in our Materialise Manufacturing segment through the sale of parts that we print for our customers. We generate a smaller portion of our revenue by the sale of scanners (e.g., foot scan plates for Materialise Motion) and software solutions in our eyewear and footwear business.
For the years ended December 31, 2022, 2021 and 2020, our Materialise Manufacturing segment generated revenue of € 103.5 million, € 89.2 million and € 69.6 million, respectively, representing 44.6%, 43.4% and 40.9%, respectively, of our total revenue.
Business-to-Business Services. We offer the following services in our Materialise Manufacturing segment:
Additive Manufacturing Solutions. We provide design and engineering services, rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing of production parts to customers serving the automotive, consumer goods industrial goods, semiconductor, art and architecture and aerospace markets. Our service centers offer a variety of 3D printing technologies including stereolithography, laser sintering, Filament Fusion, or FDM, PolyJet, Multi Jet Fusion, selective laser melting, or SLM, and vacuum casting. We have a dedicated production line for making aerospace-certified components using a number of technologies and materials.
Specialty Industrial Solutions. We have developed additive manufacturing solutions that serve certain specialty industrial applications.
Our RapidFit+ business utilizes additive manufacturing to provide customers active in the automotive market with customized, highly precise and, in certain cases, patent protected measurement and fixturing tools. Using additive manufacturing technology, we believe that RapidFit+ fixtures provide more functionality and flexibility than the traditional fixtures that are currently widely used in the automotive industry. We also offer production tooling that we believe has substantially better ergonomics and improved functionality compared to traditional fixtures.
ACTech provides specialized solutions mainly for the automotive industry. In particular ACTech supplies prototyping of highly complex metal components through casting techniques that result in products that have a production grade performance. The casting is done using state-of-the-art 3D printed sand molds, while the final functionality of the components is achieved by a fully integrated post processing of the components in our CNC workshop.
Wearables initiatives in consumer industry. We have developed two wearables verticals for the consumer market. We believe 3D printing and design automation has great potential to help both consumers and healthcare professionals improve comfort, health and performance through personalized eyewear or footwear.
In our eyewear vertical, we offer a complete end-to-end solution for 3D-printed, often custom, eyewear frames. Based on a scan, patented technology identifies the critical parameters to automatically design eyewear that is customized to a person’s face. The resulting file can be printed in our eyewear production line, and we provide the necessary finishing, assembly steps and packaging.
Through Materialise Motion, we offer a full suite of solutions for footcare professionals. We offer digital measurement tools and personalized solutions to footcare professionals treating foot or gait problems. By means of our foot scan plates, we can capture a dynamic scan of a person’s foot sole and combined with our software tools, we create custom insoles based on this scan. The insoles are 3D printed, finished and assembled in a dedicated production line. Our research and product development teams aim to build a growing suite of solutions for patients with different types of motion problems.
Sales and Marketing. We market our services to our additive manufacturing solutions business customers using our sales force and through our website. Our more complex product offerings are addressed directly by our specialized sales teams who are located throughout Europe near our larger accounts and who align our customers’ needs with the wide range of 3D printing technologies or market-specific solutions that we offer. More straightforward products can be ordered directly by our customers through our “Materialise OnSite” or i.materialise web portals, a proprietary automated system that takes orders, provides quotes and manages the printing process from start to finish, and allows customers to track the manufacturing and shipment process of their product online. Within our larger sales teams, specialized sales managers focus either on rapid prototyping, which is our traditional and well-established market, or the additive manufacturing of end-use production parts, which is the market where we see opportunities for significant growth. Our marketing team in Belgium oversees our global marketing strategy. In addition, employees at our Belgian headquarters and in our local field offices manage sales for particular markets and accounts and provide back office and production management support to our customers.
For our specialty markets and wearables initiatives we have separate sales teams that offer our customers the necessary expertise in their domain. Our sales teams have a direct approach to the market but in some cases we also work with partners or distributors locally to address specific market segments, such as the large segments of eyewear opticians or footcare professionals.
Customers. The customers for our Materialise Manufacturing segment are from a wide variety of industries, including the automotive, aerospace, healthcare, semiconductor, industrial goods, art and design and consumer products industries. For these customers, we offer a complete set of services ranging from consultancy and co-creation, to design and engineering, rapid prototyping, and certified manufacturing of end-use parts.
Through our consultancy offering, which we brand as Materialise Mindware, we work together with customers to solve complex design challenges and to discuss how the introduction of 3D printing can affect product development, manufacturing workflow, business models and customer experiences. For example, a co-creation with HOYA, in collaboration with Hoet Design Studio, saw the launch of the world’s first vision-centric, 3D-tailored eyewear solution, Yuniku. Yuniku enables individualized lens and frame design through a sophisticated end-to-end digital supply chain, which includes a custom 3D scanner and software platform, co-created by us and HOYA, directly linked to our eyewear manufacturing factory.
Through our design and engineering service, we also service those customers looking for support in their initial concept design or with maximizing a design for 3D printing. Our design and engineering team, which is comprised of highly specialized designers and CAD engineers, offers dedicated design and software support for additive manufacturing, including remodeling and file preparation, as well as 3D scanning and measuring. Our team also offers trainings to engineering professionals active in various markets to accelerate the adoption of design for additive manufacturing.
The customers of both our Materialise OnSite and i.materialise platforms order through our website. Materialise OnSite customers tend to be industrial customers looking to rapid prototype parts quickly and reliably, often taking advantage of fast-lane machines to ensure short lead times for time-critical projects. For i.materialise, while there is a potential to address the wide consumer market with this platform, we prefer to describe our current customers as “home professionals.” Our i.materialise client base includes independent designers and CAD hobbyists that often sell their creations or their services to others, including, in certain instances, through the i.materialise gallery. Through i.materialise’s APIs, companies can also partner with i.materialise to give their own customers a cloud-based, 3D-printing solution on their website, streamlining the ordering, manufacturing and shipping processes through a direct link to our factory for 3D printing. Since 2016, Microsoft has been using the i.materialise API to offer a cloud-based 3D print solution for Windows 10 users, and PTC did the same for Creo 4.0 software users.
Most of our straightforward additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping solutions are executed on the basis of single transaction contracts or purchase orders with the customer. These contracts and purchase orders lay out the pricing, delivery and other terms of the order. For our Additive Manufacturing service of end-use parts, an entirely new approach to ensure parts are made according to agreed standards is required, for which we have set processes to onboard new customers. An example of this is our dedicated aerospace manufacturing line, backed by certifications EN9100 and EASA Part 21G, through which we are currently manufacturing plastic parts for, among others, Airbus’s A350 XWB. We expect that as demand for our Certified Additive Manufacturing service grows, we may enter into more long-term agreements with customers.
For the automotive manufacturers and their suppliers that use our RapidFit+ service, the fixtures are custom engineered by dedicated teams. Our RapidFit+ customers, which include their quality departments, expect that fixtures meet high accuracy standards. Several automotive OEMs in Europe are currently considering our innovative solution as a potential new standard, while a solid base of automotive Tier 1 suppliers in Europe has embraced RapidFit+ as one of their fixture solutions.
Competition. In our additive manufacturing solutions business, we compete with a number of companies that provide industrial 3D printing services, including Cresilas, Prototal, Protolabs and Quickparts. In addition, larger accounts tend to move their 3D printing production in-house once their orders have reached certain volumes, which not only creates opportunities for our Materialise Software segment but also for our Materialise Manufacturing segment in terms of capacity balancing services.
In the measurement and quality control fixture market addressed by RapidFit+, we are not aware of any direct competition coming from 3D printing companies. We do have competition, however, from a large group of smaller companies that are active in the more traditional tooling manufacturing.
While there are multiple start-up companies seeking to address the home 3D printing services market, we believe that Shapeways and Sculpteo are the most prominent direct competitors of i.materialise based on their global reach. i.materialise focuses on standing out as a brand in terms of service and reliability.
Growth Opportunities. We believe that there is particular potential to grow our presence in the markets for additive manufacturing of complex and/or unique end products, including in particular certain parts for the aviation industry and eyewear and footwear products. In recent years, more companies have been using additive manufacturing for production across a broad range of industrial sectors, including aerospace, orthopedic implants, surgical guides, dental copings and hearing devices. For industrial end-use parts, we intend to continue to selectively invest in the expansion and creation of certified 3D manufacturing environments that meet the high standards of the specialized segments of the industrial production market that we focus on. In addition, we believe that our local sales teams, which are near our customers, as well as our engineering teams, which can bring in additional expertise where required, are important and rather unique assets in this market that are worthwhile to continue to invest in.
Manufacture and Supply. We produce our 3D printed products at our service centers in Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Japan and the United States. We print substantially all of products in-house using a variety of technologies, including stereolithography, laser sintering, FDM, PolyJet, powder binding, Multi Jet Fusion, Powder Bed Fusion and vacuum casting, and only subcontract the manufacture of products if certain other technologies (such as CNC machined components) are required or for capacity balancing purposes. As of December 31, 2022, we operated a total of 205 3D printers, six vacuum casting machines and 27 CNC machines at these service centers, which include distinct areas dedicated to the machinery, quality control, cleaning and labelling of our products. The table below provides selected information about our 3D printers and vacuum casting machines:
3D Systems Corporation / Other
Materialise / Stratasys
3D Systems Corporation/ EOS GmbH / Other
EOS GmbH / Ricoh / Sindoh
Multi Jet Fusion
MCP HEK GmbH
MCP HEK GmbH
MCP HEK GmbH
Direct Metal Laser Sintering
EoS GmbH / GE Additive / SLM Solutions
(1)We have proprietary stereolithography machines based on our patented curtain coat technologies. The original curtain coat machines had a medium sized build volume. These medium sized machines have subsequently been adapted to become the extra-large sized Mammoth machines.
(2)Small size machines are machines with a build volume of less than 250×250×250 mm.
(3)Medium size machines have a build volume of less than 500×500×500 mm.
(4)Large size machines have a build volume of more than 500×500×500 mm.
As of December 31, 2022, 49 printers produced parts exclusively for our Materialise Medical segment, while the other 156 printers and six vacuum casting machines produced parts for our Materialise Manufacturing segment.
As of December 31, 2022, all of our 3D printers and vacuum casting machines were either owned or held under a lease contract. At the end of the lease agreements (which are typically for a period of five years), we have an option to purchase the machines for a value of approximately 1.0% of their original value. We are responsible for the maintenance of such leased equipment.
We devote significant time and attention to the quality control of our products during the printing process by maintaining a comprehensive quality control program, which, among other things, includes the control and documentation of all material specifications, operating procedures, equipment maintenance and quality control methods. In addition, we inspect all of our raw materials to be used in our products throughout the printing process. We control our production orders through the use of labels or visual references on our internal database, bar-codes, controlled prints and routers, which enables us to trace our products during the printing process. Upon completion of the production process, we package and label our products.
The raw materials used in the printing of our products are mainly aluminum, titanium alloy and stainless steel powders, epoxy based photocurable resins, PA12 and thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU, based powders and a suite of thermoplastic filaments like ABS, PC and Ultem and quartz sand and furanic resin binder.
With the exception of FDM and PolyJet -materials, we believe that none of our other raw material requirements is limited to any significant extent by critical supply or price volatility. We continuously look for second sourcing of our raw materials in order not to be dependent on a single supplier in case a supply issue was to occur. We monitor the costs of our raw materials in order to optimize the cost/performance whilst not jeopardizing the expectations of our customers and the safe use of the materials in critical applications. With our strategic partnership with BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH, we are working towards offering to the market open solutions in terms of materials and software through which the user of additive manufacturing equipment can choose functionalities that best suit the user.
Our 3D printing operations for our patient-specific surgical guides, models and implants are subject to extensive regulation. We operate a certified quality management system in line with the U.S. Quality System Regulation, good manufacturing practice regulations and ISO 13485. We are registered with regulatory authorities in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and other jurisdictions. We CE mark our products where required. Our service centers are subject to periodic and sometimes unannounced inspections by regulatory authorities, including inspections by the FDA.
Research and Development
We have an ongoing research and development program to improve and expand the capabilities of our existing technology portfolio, which reflects our continued investments in a range of disciplines, including software development, industrial, mechanical and biomedical engineering, physics and chemistry.
We have a long history of research and development through collaborations, which augment our internal development efforts. As of December 31, 2022, we were active in over 20 government funded research projects and we also employed multiple researchers with a publicly funded scholarship. With our platform technologies and strong track record in successful commercialization of scientific innovations, we receive many requests for participation in new development projects. While we strongly protect our intellectual property in our core competencies, many of our products require collaborations in order to create healthy ecosystems for their successful implementation.
As of December 31, 2022, we had more than 50 active research and development projects in various stages of completion and approximately 478 FTEs and fully dedicated consultants working on research and development in our facilities in Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ukraine and Malaysia.
Our research and development projects include (but are not limited to) the following:
|1.||various software development projects including projects related to engineering and design for 3D printing, and improving existing technological challenges (for example, the handling of large amounts of data and advanced image segmentation), which are expected to benefit both our Materialise Software and Materialise Medical segments;|
|2.||research projects to understand and develop cutting-edge software tools for industrially relevant additive manufacturing technologies (powder bed fusion for plastics (laser sintering) and metal (laser melting and electron beam), stereolithography, FDM (also known as Filament Fusion), binder jetting power bed fusion, DLP-based printing and inkjet based technologies);|
|3.||research projects in our Materialise Medical segment to develop patient specific surgical planning tools or surgical guides or implants for orthopedic, CMF and cardiovascular surgeries;|
|4.||research projects on the use of virtual and augmented reality by our Materialise Medical segment;|
|5.||research and development projects on smart digital technologies for the large-scale personalization of wearables;|
|6.||various research projects on the use of artificial intelligence and (deep) machine learning in the fields of image processing and additive manufacturing; and|
|7.||several research projects related to improving the maturity, reliability and quality of the additive manufacturing process, which are expected to benefit each of our three segments.|
We also regularly apply for research and development grants and subsidies under, among other, European, Belgian, British, French and German, grant rules. The majority of these grants and subsidies are non-refundable. We have received grants and subsidies from different authorities, including the Flemish government (VLAIO, or Vlaams Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen), the European Union (FP7 and H2020 framework programs) and BMBF, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
We expect to continue to invest significantly in research and development in the future.
We regard our intellectual property rights as valuable to our business and protect our technology portfolio through a combination of patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret and other intellectual property laws, confidentiality and other contractual provisions and other measures. The nature and extent of legal protection associated with each such intellectual property right depends on, among other things, the type of intellectual property right and the given jurisdiction in which such right arises.
As of December 31, 2022, our portfolio of intellectual property featured 449 issued patents and an additional 132 pending patent applications primarily in the United States, the European Union and Japan. Of these, our issued patents expire between approximately 2020 and 2035, while our currently pending patent applications will generally remain in effect for 20 years from the date of the initial applications. We believe that, while our patents provide us with a competitive advantage, our success depends primarily on our business development, applications know-how and ongoing research and development efforts. Accordingly, we believe that the expiration of any single patent, or the failure of any single patent application to result in an issued patent, would not be material to our business or financial position.
As is the case in the 3D printing industry generally, the development of our products, processes and materials has required considerable experience, manufacturing and processing know-how and research and development activities. We protect our proprietary products, processes and materials as trade secrets through nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants and customers.
In addition, we own the trademark registrations for “Materialise” and “ACTech” and trademark registrations and pending applications for many of our services and software solutions in those territories where we have substantial sales, including “Streamics”, “Mimics”, ”3-matic”, ”Inspector”, “Magics”, “RapidFit+”, “MGX by Materialise”, “Heartprint”, “ADaM”, “Engineering on Anatomy”, “Surgicase”, “Enlight”, “Mindware” and “Phits”, among others.
We are party to various licenses and other arrangements that allow us to practice and improve our technology under a broad range of patents, patent applications and other intellectual property, including agreements with our collaboration partners, Zimmer Biomet, Enovis, DePuy Synthes, Lima, Mathys, Stryker, Corin, Siemens, FluidDa, HOYA and PTC.
There can be no assurance that the steps we take to protect our proprietary rights will be adequate or that third parties will not infringe or misappropriate such rights. We have been subject to claims and expect to be subject to legal proceedings and claims from time to time in the ordinary course of our business. In particular, we may face claims from third parties that we have infringed their patents, trademarks or other intellectual property rights. Such claims, even if not meritorious, could result in the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources. Any unauthorized disclosure or use of our intellectual property could make it more expensive to do business and harm our operating results.
End markets such as healthcare, automotive, aerospace and consumer products may experience some seasonality. Historically, the revenue of our Materialise Software segment has been greater in the fourth quarter, as compared to the revenue of each of the other quarters. A number of our customers make their initial software purchase in the fourth quarter prior to the end of their annual budget cycle and tend to renew, extend or broaden the scope of their licenses on the anniversary date of their first purchase. In addition, we have in the past often brought new releases on the market in the third quarter of the calendar year, which may also have an impact on sales in the subsequent quarter.
Regulatory / Environmental Matters
Our facilities and operations are subject to extensive U.S. federal, state and local, European and other applicable foreign environmental and occupational health and safety laws and regulations. These laws and regulations govern, among other things, air emissions; wastewater discharges; the generation, storage, handling, use and transportation of hazardous materials; the handling and disposal of hazardous wastes; the clean-up of contamination; and the health and safety of our employees. Under such laws and regulations, we are required to obtain permits from governmental authorities for some of our operations. If we violate or fail to comply with these laws, regulations or permits, we could be fined or otherwise sanctioned by regulators. We could also be held responsible for costs and damages arising from any contamination at our past or present facilities or at third party waste disposal sites.
Our headquarters in Belgium, our manufacturing site in Poland, and ACTech’s headquarters in Germany, follow the ISO 14001:2015 criteria for an effective environmental management system. These sites are ISO 14001:2015 certified.
Compliance with laws and regulations relating to the discharge of materials into the environment or otherwise relating to the protection of the environment has not had a material impact on capital expenditures, earnings or the competitive position of our subsidiaries and us. We are not the subject of any legal or administrative proceedings relating to the environmental laws of Belgium or any country in which we have facilities. We have not received any notices of any violations of any such environmental laws.
Healthcare Regulatory Matters
In our Materialise Medical segment, we are subject to extensive and complex U.S. federal, state and local, European and other applicable foreign healthcare and medical devices laws and regulations.
Both before and after approval or clearance our medical products and product candidates are subject to extensive regulation. In the United States, the FDA under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act primarily regulates us. In Europe and in other foreign jurisdictions in which we sell our medical products, many of the regulations applicable to our medical devices and products in these countries are similar to those of the FDA. Together, these regulations govern, among other things and where applicable, the following activities in which we are involved: