4 March 2011

OPEL’s POET technology receives third-party valuation as it mulls its sale

OPEL Solar International Inc of Toronto, Ontario, Canada says that it has received third-party valuation of intellectual property developed by its US affiliates OPEL Inc and ODIS Inc (Opel Defense Integrated Systems) of Shelton, CT, which designs communications transceivers, optoelectric integrated platforms and infrared sensor type products for military and industrial applications.

The Planar Opto Electronic Technology (POET), initially developed by Dr Geoffrey Taylor at the University of Connecticut and licensed to OPEL Inc, is a fabrication technology that enables the dense packing of digital, analog and optical circuits on a single gallium arsenide chip. It now makes it possible to monolithically integrate a wide range of electronic and optoelectronic functions in a single chip with higher speeds and reduced power consumption compared to silicon CMOS. For the same functionality, the chip size can be reduced considerably to about half the size of a person’s thumb nail.

“We control a revolutionary technology that we think can fundamentally alter the landscape of the server, smart-device and computing industries,” reckons CEO Leon M. Pierhal. “Never before has one chip been able to integrate both electronic and optical circuits,” he adds. “By combining them in one part, we believe we can eliminate the inefficiency and cost burden on systems that must use separate chips for each function. These cost savings and performance improvements can be immense, potentially transforming the whole industry.”

OPEL commissioned a valuation analysis of the POET technology portfolio by independent, third-party valuation firm Pellegrino & Associates LLC, which performed an analysis of the uses of POET, the sales it could achieve in its targeted end-markets, and likely margins if OPEL can complete its R&D activities and the market adopts the technology. Using a number of valuation techniques and based on technical information provided by ODIS, the valuation firm estimates that the technology portfolio could be worth as much as $1bn, as derived from a range of values (the median value is $966.6m; the mean valuation is $1.31bn).

On 28 February, OPEL’s board of directors passed all of the necessary resolutions to authorize the sale of the POET intellectual property portfolio. The board is currently evaluating proposals from investment banking firms specializing in this technology regarding an engagement to consider strategic alternatives for OPEL’s future exploitation of POET, which may include the full or partial sale of the technology.

*Since highlighting POET’s commercial and consumer applications at the Annual General Meeting last June, ODIS has received two development contracts with military and space branches of the US Government. After a period of research, growing recognition and awards from other US military branches, the US Navy and the NASA have chosen the POET platform as a preferred technology for military and aerospace development.

In September, ODIS received a development contract with the Navy Air Warfare Center that will involve a Phase I award of $150,000 to develop optical code division multiple access (OCDMA) technology for future avionics systems. This January, ODIS was awarded a development contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that will involve a Phase I award of $100,000 to develop optoelectronic infrastructure of RF/Optical phased arrays.

“Although ODIS has a history of having successfully received SBIR (small business innovation research) awards for many years, we believe these most recent Navy and NASA awards are important because they go a long way to indicate that various departments within the US Government consider the POET process integral to meeting their future needs,” says ODIS’ president Leon M. Pierhal.

“Commercial applications could eventually be brought to bear when the device is completed for NASA,” Pierhal continues. “Compact electronically scanned phased-array sensors with combined RF and optical emissions have significant commercial potential in the security, aviation and free-space optics communication markets,” he adds. “These are active sensors which complement the traditional infrared and visible imagers.”


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