It is interesting to watch company behaviors as robust markets (like photonics) mature. After all, the approach organizations take in positioning themselves for success can be telling.
Although I am knowingly generalizing here, there are always firms that rely heavily on internal innovations to drive future growth, those predominately focused on an acquisition-based approach, and those landing somewhere in the middle. It is easy to point out companies in each category, especially in markets where steady growth is a constant.
There are undeniable benefits to each approach. And while there is no right or wrong approach per se, the methodology selected often proves pivotal in determining how fast organizations reach their growth goals. When acquisitions are strategic, the opportunity exists to bolster existing strengths, address weaknesses, and in some instances make crucial inroads into attractive markets.
Meadowlark Optics recently acquired Boulder Nonlinear Systems (BNS); both produce optical components used in multiple branches of scientific research and industry. The acquisition boosts Meadowlark’s ability to thrive within catalog and custom polarization spaces.
By adding new models to the spatial light modulator line and a new product line via liquid-crystal polarization gratings, Meadowlark can serve additional researchers in its current focus areas. Plus, the BNS research and development team known for producing significant results on custom projects is joining Meadowlark.
The acquisition also opens the door for Meadowlark into the automotive market where BNS has experience and expertise in polarization gratings, says Kelly Gregorak, vice president of sales and marketing at Meadowlark.
“Neuroscience (both biologic and AI-focused), automotive (i.e., LiDAR), and quantum computing are absolutely exploding right now,” says Gregorak. “We are extremely pleased to be a source for products and people who help these scientific fields expand and harness light in innovative ways. It is wonderful for two companies with corresponding goals and values to come together—it creates a new tier of service and customization for all customers that could not have been reached prior.”
Such M&A activity often comes in waves, reflecting industry trends where established businesses bring startups or smaller concerns into the fold. However, in 2023, the level of activity has been low. Economic uncertainty is undoubtedly playing a role here. However, it could also be a sign of activity behind the scenes with more announcements on the horizon.