New investment helps TU/e spinoff MicroAlign to speed up technology and product development

08 December 2021

Eindhoven – A new investment by PhotonDelta and the Smart Industries TTT Fund that is managed by Innovation Industries will help TU Eindhoven spinoff MicroAlign speed up its technology and product development. MicroAlign will use the funds to optimize the quality of optical fiber-to-chip connections at packaging and start exploring the market opportunities.

Photonics is a key enabling technology for industries like aerospace, automotive, foodtech, telecommunications, and hightech systems & materials (HTSM). The Netherlands globally offers one of the most mature ecosystems in (integrated) photonics.

The investment is indicative of the successful valorization strategy at the Eindhoven University of Technology. In a growing number of cases, scientific research – for example, connected to a PhD trajectory – results in new start-ups. This is especially the case around integrated photonics, as famous scale-ups like Smart Photonics and Effect Photonics have already shown. With its solutions around packaging and assembly, MicroAlign fills in another important part of the ecosystem, making it more robust and cost-effective for producers as well as customers. The investment not only is a strong confirmation of the vibrant photonics ecosystem in the Netherlands but also proofs the value of the university’s valorization schemes.

MicroAlign is developing a revolutionary technology capable of manipulating multiple optical fibers individually, by means of a novel micro-electromechanical system. The technology aims to improve the quality of each optical fiber-to-chip connection, for tens of optical fibers and with sub-micrometer accuracy. MicroAlign’s mission is to provide a solution capable of relaxing the strict alignment tolerances involved in photonic chip testing and optical assembly. The proposed alignment method has potential for a number of applications ranging from datacom, telecom, sensing, lidar, up to infra-red communication.

Simone Cardarelli, CEO MicroAlign:

“We are grateful and proud that both the Smart Industries TTT Fund and PhotonDelta have confirmed our ambitious plans and team-up with us to successfully execute on it. This new funding will allow us to focus on accelerating our commercial efforts while continuing to build on our technology. We’re very much aware that our product development can only succeed when we are simultaneously improving our business capabilities. We’re happy to see that PhotonDelta and Innovation Industries are supporting us in achieving this roadmap.”

Pieter Klinkert, Fund Manager PhotonDelta:

“We are excited to see innovative startups like MicroAlign arise in our ecosystem. Their technology will contribute to the industrialization of the supply chain as it reinforces the back-end process in assembly and testing. This will enable our partners to produce better products more efficiently. The creation of startups like MicroAlign is also evidence of the positive climate for deeptech entrepreneurs within our ecosystem. We look forward to supporting MicroAlign in their adventure to success.” 

Pleuni Hooijman, Innovation Industries:

“We are always on the lookout for investment opportunities in photonics-based companies. We have a long-standing relationship with PhotonDelta and acknowledge them as a strong partner for these investments. We believe in MicroAlign’s vision and strategy and see great potential in scaling the technology. The start-up has already shown impressive developments in the first year of its existence and builds highly innovative and meaningful products. Above all, MicroAlign has a great team of founders. All this gives us the confidence to invest in MicroAlign.”

About MicroAlign
MicroAlign is developing a revolutionary alignment solution to optimally connect multiple optical fibers and photonic chips. Fiber-to-chip connectivity has always been a challenging operation, and MicroAlign’s task is to provide a micro-positioning stage capable of relaxing the involved strict alignment tolerances. The MicroAlign technology aims to optimize the quality of each optical fiber-to-chip connection, for tens of optical fibers and with sub-micrometer accuracy, by means of a novel micro-electromechanical system. The alignment method offered by MicroAlign has potential impact in the photonic industry for a number of applications ranging from datacom, telecom, up to sensing.

About PhotonDelta
PhotonDelta is an independent growth accelerator for the integrated photonics industry. Located in the heart of Europe, PhotonDelta has established a collaborative ecosystem of organizations that designs, develops, and manufactures the next-generation chip technology. PhotonDelta actively supports the ecosystem through a wide range of activities, including funding, coaching, and connecting them to industry. This creates an environment that stimulates the creation of companies, products, and applications that contribute to a better world.

About Innovation Industries and Smart Industries Thematic Technology Transfer
The Smart Industries Thematic Technology Transfer (TTT) consortium is a cooperative alliance between the Technology Transfer Offices of TNO, the four Dutch technical universities, and Innovation Industries. It aims to bring promising early-stage tech spin-offs to the next level. The Smart Industries TTT Fund is managed by Innovation Industries.

Innovation Industries is a leading Netherlands-based independent venture capital firm focused on hightech, medtech, and agrifoodtech companies. Innovation Industries uses a market-driven approach to create long-term value in high technology start-up and scale-up companies. It holds numerous investments across the photonics value chain. Innovation Industries has over € 265 million under management and invests across all growth and development stages.