SMART Photonics secures €35M new funding to accelerate growth for photonic chip manufacturing

30 June 2020

SMART Photonics, the independent foundry for photonic integrated circuits, today announced a €35M Series C investment from a Dutch consortium led by Innovation Industries.

The company, founded in 2012 and based at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, will use the funds to expand its capacity for wafer manufacturing, accelerate the development of its photonic integration technology and firmly establish the technology in the marketplace through its valued customers.

Lead investor Innovation Industries is one of Europe’s most active independent photonics investors and holds numerous investments across the photonics value chain. The funding includes a contribution from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy of The Netherlands through the Brabant Development Agency (BOM), as well asparticipations from KPN Ventures, PhotonDelta and existing shareholders, thereby reaffirming the position of SMART Photonics as the central player in the European photonics ecosystem.

SMART Photonics’ ambition is to be the leading independent foundry for photonic integrated circuits, which providesmall-scale integration and high performance combined with low energy consumption. Photonic integrated circuits willplay a key role in our lives by enabling new and radically improved applications that make our world better, greener andsafer. SMART Photonics’ integration technology allows its customers to design chips for a variety of next generationcommunication and highly accurate sensor applications in telecoms, healthcare, smart mobility and sustainable industrial processes.

Since its inception in 2012, SMART Photonics has attracted a truly global customer base, consisting of leading US,European and Asian customers as well as a range of scale-up companies that develop applications using integratedphotonics.

“We are very excited to have the new consortium on board and to be able to bring our foundry to the next level thanks to thisinvestment. This will allow us to scale up our volumes as we support our customers in bringing their first commercialproducts using photonic integration technology to the market’ comments Chief Executive Officer, Johan Feenstra, adding: “Iam very grateful for the tremendous support we received from our investors and PhotonDelta partners in making it happen.’

PhotonDelta CEO Ewit Roos explains: “SMART Photonics fulfils a key function within our growing European photonicsecosystem and are of utmost importance as the fabrication of photonic integrated circuits enables innovative products in many application domains. Thus, the growth of SMART Photonics has a profound impact as it leverages the scale ofactivity and innovation of the entire supply chain of integrated photonics in Europe. We are thrilled to participate in thisround as the national growth accelerator for the Dutch integrated photonics industry.’

Nard Sintenie, General Partner, Innovation Industries, comments: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to leadthis investment in SMART Photonics, as the company is perfectly positioned as Europe’s leading independent foundry forintegrated photonics through its flexible production process of photonic integrated circuits, proprietary process design kitand tremendous know-how. We are truly impressed by the quality of the team and believe that they will successfully lead the company through its next phase of growth.’ He continues: “In order for Europe to maintain a leading position in the development of newtechnologies for the rapid-growing photonics industry, we believe it is essential to invest in infrastructure. We areconfident that SMART will contribute to a strong and healthy photonics ecosystem that will drive cutting-edge technologydevelopment ensuring continued formation of exciting start- and scale-ups in this attractive industry.’

Miriam Dragstra, CCO of the Brabant Development Agency (BOM), which played an important role in the deal sourcing,emphasizes the strategic importance of the deal: “Recognized as one of Europe’s key enabling technologies, Photonicshas the potential to drive economic growth and provide solutions to some of the most pressing societal and environmentalchallenges of our time. SMART Photonics allows Dutch technology companies to play a leading role in the development ofthis promising technology. Therefore, BOM is committed to supporting the financial and strategic development of this game changer.’

Samir Ahmad, Investment Director at KPN Ventures explains the strategic value for KPN: “In order to keep up with theimmense amount of data generated at a very high speed by advancing technologies like IoT, AI, augmented reality andautonomous driving, there is a need for a new generation of photonic integrated circuits that can transport data faster, cost-effective and more sustainable (less energy consumption). Therefore, we see a unique, strategic opportunity for KPN to beclosely involved in the development of photonic integration technology with SMART Photonics to continue to serve our customers in an optimal way.’