Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 34 n° 276

Invest in Photonics sees greater funding opportunities for photonics start-ups with corporate ventures

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 22 ottobre 2014

bordeauxBordeaux, France. Invest in Photonics® 2014, a two-day international business partnering convention focused exclusively on photonics VC investment, today announces that participation at the October 9 – 10 event for business angels, VCs and corporate ventures rose by 13 per cent, to 170 attendees. Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Safran Corporate Ventures participated for the first time. This was also the first year the event welcomed investors from the crowdfunding community and traders, signaling a broadening attraction in alternative funding.Twenty early- to late-stage pan-European photonics firms pitched investors to target a cumulative total of USD 90m (EUR 70m) in funding. This is in line with the 2012 edition funding target.Attendees applauded the overall quality of the companies presenting, who were coached by market research and strategic consultants Yole Finance, a business unit of Yole Developpement. Investors attending the event plan to pursue next phase discussions with 13 companies who presented. Dutch-based Effect Photonics, a developer of DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) System-on-Chip based modules to decrease the complexity and increase the energy efficiency in data centers, won the Invest in Photonics award for most promising company in the photonics market. Finnish firm Valkee, a maker of bright light headsets to dissipate winter blues, and Luxexcel, a Dutch company providing processing technology for 3D printed optics, took second and third place respectively.“We have seen a significant increase in the business relevance and quality of the investment opportunities presented this year,” said Giorgio Anania, chairman of Invest in Photonics 2014. “The key take away for photonics start-ups is to ride the shift from VC to new funding sources such as corporations, business angels and alternative financing that were presented during the event.” The photonics industry is estimated at USD 480bn. According to keynote speaker Steve Anderson, industry and market strategist at SPIE (The international society for optics and photonics), for the core components business close to 2,750 photonics firms span 46 countries. Japan, the US and Germany host the majority. Ten per cent of companies employ roughly 77 per cent of employees. Most companies generate between USD 1m to USD 10m in revenue. The smaller companies produce only 4 per cent of photonics business sales, whereas larger firms (more than USD 1bn) represent 72 per cent of total sales. Japan generates 50 per cent of total photonics revenue.
While many of the VCs attending acknowledged that investment in early stage photonics companies is becoming rare, they recognized that there has been an “explosion of corporate ventures, which are filling the VC gap,” according to Alessio Beverina, venture partner. He has seen the number of corporate deals and partnerships rise steadily from 133 in 2005 to a peak of 330 in 2010, showing an approximate value of EUR 1.5bn in deals.
A new entrant in corporate financing made its appearance at this year’s event. Gregoire Aladjidi, director of Safran Corporate Ventures, announced that the Safran Group has a EUR 1.5bn research and development budget. Safran Corporate Ventures is a strategic investor collaborating with portfolio companies in a number of select areas, including materials, sensors, energy, advanced manufacturing and robotics. It will typically fund series A or B rounds in the vicinity of EUR 5m.This year, Invest in Photonics emphasized four market segments that extensively use photonics: consumer electronics, the life sciences, aerospace and transportation, plus energy and the environment. Speakers who represented these industrial sectors gave examples of the gaps in innovation they are looking to fill.Dieter Kraft, partner at Robert Bosch Venture Capital, who participated in the roundtable on ‘Photonics financing: shift from VC to corporations’ said that Bosch seeks to bring business expansion, disruptive technology as well as new business models to the company. Ticket size investments range from EUR 1m to EUR 4m and up to EUR 10m investments worldwide. Automation control, energy conversion efficiency, signal processing and healthcare are areas of interest.Alcatel Lucent Bell Labs’ Jean-Luc Beylat sees growing market opportunities for silicon photonics in the migration from telecom networks to data centers. Yole Developpement sees a turning point in the silicon photonics device market in 2018, growing from around USD 25m in 2013 to USD 700m in 2024.Biophotonics, used in high-end desktop devices for life science and healthcare applications, stands out as another strong growth area. Yole Developpement indicates that it will expand from USD 23bn in 2012 to USD 36bn in the next three years (Source: Biophotonics Market 2013, April 2013 edition). Leica Microsystems advocated a strong need for more powerful lasers to enable super resolution technology for microscopGreen photonics came up as another expanding area that is garnering investor interest. Beverina says that green photonics is interesting for VCs because it has real problems to solve, offers a huge market size and high growth potential. “VCs will continue to invest in photonics technologies if there is a strong market driver, such as regulations, incentives, needs for lower costs, significant growth in demand etc.”In his presentation on the ‘EU vision on financing photonics’, Wolfgang Boch, head of the photonics unit, European Commission, says that “the EU has, within the Horizon 2020 Program which provides overall funding of EUR 78.6bn, an envelope of EUR 700M earmarked to support photonics research and innovation activities in Europe.” He presented several instruments, like the dedicated SME instrument and pilot actions that go beyond research and development. These include helping companies test technology and products in real life situations and setting up mechanisms to transfer know-how to start-ups at low or no cost.“Photonics is central to driving innovation in the 21st century. To exploit Europe’s full potential in photonics, collaboration along the value chain and networking are crucial,” added Boch.
Invest in Photonics® is the only European partnering convention focused exclusively on leading investments in photonics. 2014 is the fourth Invest in Photonics, the biennial event where investors are presented with the most innovative, credible and profitable business ventures. The two-day event creates strategic investment opportunities by bringing together institutional investors and venture capitalists with the world’s experts on photonics, industry leaders, analysts and photonics entrepreneurs – all within a single venue. Early stage companies seeking seed funding, development and later stage financing can successfully network with qualified international panels of investors and potential partners to further business projects. Featuring recognized speakers from world leading companies, Invest in Photonics’ conferences provide the highest quality data on market trends and engage participants in informational exchanges on photonics developments.

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