DCU spin-out Pilot Photonics scores €1.8m investment

24 Mar 2022

From left: Pilot Photonics CEO William Oppermann, Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy and Kernel Capital partner Denise Sidhu. Image: Kernel Capital

The company said its comb laser technology can be utilised in markets such as telecoms, automotive, aerospace and energy.

Dublin City University spin-out Pilot Photonics has received a €1.8m investment from Kernel Capital, through the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund II.

The former SiliconRepublic.com Start-Up of the Week has developed ‘comb laser’ technology. Using a patented gain switching technique, Pilot Photonics said it can generate and manipulate waves of light with exceptional precision and effectively create multiple lasers from a single device.

Future Human

Photonics is the science and technology of light, and can involve creating, guiding, controlling, amplifying and detecting light. It is utilised in many areas such as manufacturing, medical devices, telecoms and security.

Pilot Photonics’ technology is based on more than 10 years of research and development undertaken at Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin and Tyndall National Institute.

By combining its laser tech with state-of-the-art semiconductor processing known as photonic integration, the company said its devices are suitable for mass production and offer performance, size, cost, power and stability advantages over traditional single wavelength lasers.

DCU spin-out Pilot Photonics raises close to €1m

From left: Ger Goold, Kernel Capital; Frank Smyth, Pilot Photonics; Kevin Healy, Bank of Ireland. Image: Kernel Capital

“Ireland was early to recognise the importance of photonics and has invested heavily in photonics R&D for more than 25 years,” Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy said. “Pilot Photonics is leveraging that state investment in early-stage R&D to create advanced technology products with global potential.”

The university spin-out company, led by CEO William Oppermann and CTO Frank Smyth, said its products have applications in markets such as telecoms, automotive, aerospace and energy.

In 2018, Pilot Photonics was awarded a €267,000 contract by the European Space Agency to develop laser communications systems for use in a range of advanced space applications including atomic clock generation, gravity sensing and magnetic sensing.

In the same year, the company raised close to €1m in an investment led by Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Funds with Dublin Business Innovation Centre.

Speaking following the latest investment, Kernel Capital partner Denise Sidhu said: “The world we know today would not exist without photonics and the influence of the technology will grow even further as it converges with advances in artificial intelligence, delivering new applications across a broad spectrum of markets including telecoms, healthcare and autonomous vehicles.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com