Xilinx acquires Belfast telecoms start-up Omiino

31 Mar 2011

Omiino Limited, a Belfast-based telecoms start-up, has been acquired by Silicon Valley chip giant Xilinx – the world’s leading provider of programmable logic devices – for an undisclosed sum.

Omiino was founded in mid-2007 through an initial funding round of US$1.5m led by Belfast-based Crescent Capital. It has since achieved significant global success with its highly innovative optical transport network (OTN) technology solutions, which are now used by some of the world’s leading telecoms suppliers.

Based at the Whitewell Road in North Belfast, the company employs 16 telecoms engineers led by CEO Gary Hamilton, who co-founded Omiino along with fellow entrepreneurs Mark Carson and Andrew Brown.

While the internet continues to drive demand for bandwidth at an increasing rate, chip vendors are struggling to respond to fast-moving markets because of the massive up-front investment and long product development cycles involved.

By contrast, Omiino’s products can be developed in a fraction of the time and at half the cost. One way the company has been able to do this is by developing innovative technology requiring electronic chips that are up to four times smaller than those of competitors.

Throughout the company’s rapid growth, the management team has been assisted by chairman Dr Bryan Keating – a local technology specialist – and by Deirdre Terrins, who represents its VC backers, Crescent Capital.

“This is great news for Omiino because we have worked very hard to develop this exciting technology and then bring it to market,” Hamilton explained.

“It is good news for Xilinx because they will now be able to use that technology across whole families of products. It is also good news for Northern Ireland because it shows we have the capabilities and the know how to grow successful world-class companies.

Invest NI’s wise move to energise NI venture capital sector

“Omiino’s success is an important endorsement of the approach taken by Invest NI to energise the venture capital sector, enabling it to make a real contribution to economic development here in Northern Ireland,” Hamilton added.

Xilinx, a company that designs and makes programmable microchips, employs 250 people at its EMEA headquarters in Dublin. The HQ runs an IT, research, development and engineering centre, along with centralised HR, legal, finance and supply chain management functions.

Omiino board member Terrins said: “Crescent Capital have invested around US$1.5m in Omiino since it was established just over three years ago. For the company to be acquired so quickly represents a very successful outcome for everyone involved.

“We are thrilled that this is but the latest example of an indigenous world-class high-technology company that we have been able to work with to help them achieve their full potential.”

“Invest NI worked closely with Omiino in recent years to support research and development activities.

“This acquisition by a leading global company based in the technology centre of San Jose is a clear endorsement of Omiino’s capabilities and the value of investment in R&D,” Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest NI, said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years