24 September 2010


IMEC and UGent spin off silicon photonics firm Caliopa

The Photonics Research Group of Ghent University (UGent) and Leuven-based nanoelectronics research institute IMEC have spun off Caliopa of Zwijnaarde, Belgium. The aim is to commercialize more than a decade of research in silicon photonics by developing and marketing optical transceivers for the datacoms and telecoms markets that offer advanced functionality, higher port density and lower power consumption.

According to the latest forecast from optical communications market research firm LightCounting LLC, global sales of optical transceivers will reach $2.4bn in 2010 then rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% between 2011 and 2014 as the industry catches up with the steadily growing demand for bandwidth.

“Multiple optical components can be replaced with a single optical chip by using silicon photonics, allowing us to develop small, highly integrated and low-power optical transceivers,” says Caliopa’s CEO Martin De Prycker. “The ability to make these silicon photonics components at standard CMOS manufacturing facilities also makes it commercially very attractive,” he adds. “Key potential customers have expressed great interest in Caliopa's solutions, stating that port density and power consumption are the major concerns in driving the growth of optical networks.”

Recently, UGhent founded the Center for Nano- and Biophotonics (NB Photonics), a multidisciplinary research platform in photonics clustering the resources and know-how of 12 professors from four different faculties. Technology transfer is handled by the Photonics Innovation Center ‘Plateau’, which was instrumental during Caliopa’s incubation phase.

Caliopa says it will be able to build on the know-how, intellectual property and experience of years of research by Ugent’s Photonics Research Group and IMEC led by professor Roel Baets. It will also exploit IMEC’s expertise in silicon processing.

To develop its first products, privately held Caliopa has raised €2m in initial funding from the founders together with a consortium of investors led by Baekeland Fund II, FIDIMEC (a daughter firm of IMEC that supports the incorporation of spin-offs) and PMV-Vinnof (the Flemish Innovation Fund, a subsidiary of investment firm PMV that provides seed capital for start-ups in Flanders), joined by private investors.

Caliopa currently has seven team members, composed of technical experts from IMEC/UGent and industry veterans with more than 75 years cumulative management experience in high-tech industries. However, the firm plans to double the size of this team in the next 12 months.

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