Incubator hatches new Scottish firms

March 1, 2001
Two optoelectronics companies have already emerged from the recently opened incubator Compound Semiconductor Technologies Ltd., (CST; Glasgow), and both are attracting major funding for rapid growth.

Two optoelectronics companies have already emerged from the recently opened incubator Compound Semiconductor Technologies Ltd., (CST; Glasgow), and both are attracting major funding for rapid growth. The companies Kamelian and Intense Photonics are aiming products at the broadband optical communications market. Kamelian uses custom designed III-V active components, which are integrated with passive components to form highly functional hybrids. Intense Photonics aims to produce monolithic devices based on quantum well intermixing (QWI) technology.

CST is a 7.5-million-pounds ($11 million) optoelectronics III-V foundry and technology transfer company that opened in September last year. It houses start-ups in its facility at Glasgow's West of Scotland Science Park, while also undertaking external contracts in test-manufacturing of III-V semiconductors.

Kamelian uses technology developed at the University of Strathclyde. The company is planning to make indium phosphide based semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOAs) bonded to passive devices, like arrayed waveguide gratings (AWGs), supplied by other vendors such Lightwave Microsystems Inc. and the Scottish supplier Kymata. Of the resulting hybrid devices, a module that forms the basis of a reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (OADM) is likely to be the first product available.

Founded in June last year, the company has already raised £12.6 million of investment and is looking to expand its staff from 10 to 100 within the next 12 months. The largest investor is UK venture capital supplier 3i, who provided a set-up investment of £1 million and followed this with £6.3 million at the end of last year. Other investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, the US venture capital group formerly known as Weiss, Peck & Greer Venture Partners, and David Sibbald, a Cisco Systems general manager and Kamelian's chairman. Kamelian is setting up a manufacturing facility in Oxford, while also expanding its design and testing activities at its Glasgow headquarters. Key personnel include Paul May, CEO, who is a founder of various start-ups including Cambridge Display Technology, Tim Bestwick, COO, formerly of Bookham Technology, and Ivan Andonovic, CTO and Professor of broadband optical networks at the University of Strathclyde.

Glasgow University has spun out Intense Photonics, with John Marsh, Professor of Optoelectronic Systems at the university, as head of the company's research. The technology base is QWI, which facilitates bandgap engineering. This in turn allows components such as lasers to be integrated monolithically with other functions such as amplification, filtering and switching. The result is a platform for single-chip transceiver, switching and routing subsystems for DWDM backbones. The company has secured more than £1 million as seed funding, from 3i, Glasgow University and ACT Venture Capital.

Intense Photonics has recently named its management team which includes David Lockwood, CEO, formerly head of the Sensor Systems Division of BAE Systems, and Iain Anderson, chairman, who is also a board member of BT and was formerly the strategy and technology director of Unilever. Lockwood also has a background in communication systems from his earlier career in senior management in the company that is now Marconi Communications. He commented; "Intense Photonics has the potential to change the way that DWDM systems are designed and built. We can reshape the market, and my initial role will be to ensure that we have the funding and the team in place to realize our goals."

About the Author

Bridget Marx | Contributing Editor, UK

Bridget Marx was Contributing Editor, UK for Laser Focus World.

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