University of Glasgow spin out company secures funding deal

A University of Glasgow spin out company has announced that it has attracted a first round Venture Capital funding package which will be worth US$7M.

The company, Glasgow-based Essient Photonics, supplies components for the optoelectonics industry based on technology developed by Professor Charles Ironside of the department of Electronics & Electrical Engineering at the University of Glasgow.

The development of the technology was one of the earliest projects to be supported by Scottish Enterprise's innovative Proof of Concept awards. News of the venture capital support comes at the same time as Scottish Enterprise has announced a further round of Proof of Concept funding which includes ten further awards to University of Glasgow researchers.[see preceding story]

Essient Photonics first round funding has been led by Pond Venture Partners Ltd which manage the Pond Ventures capital funds exclusively targeting early-stage technology companies in the UK and Europe.

Essient's development has been based on significant breakthroughs in the design and manufacture of modulation and detection equipment.

Optical modulators are used in telecommunications systems to convert electronic data such as phone messages or computer data into a modulated laser beam for transmission through optical fibres. Modulator systems presently available require expensive and bulky drive circuitry and external circuitry.

Professor Ironside has developed a new type of optoelectronic modulator, the Resonant Tunnelling Diode Electro Absorption Modulator (RTD-EAM) which offers significant reductions in physical size and power requirements. These products use drive voltages of only 100mN, a fraction of today's levels. In addition, by shrinking the size of components and eliminating others, Essient's technology platform gives engineers the design flexibility to use space in a new way, while adhering to today's standards.

With offices in Dallas, Texas, and headquartered in Scotland's Silicon Glen, Essient will be led by interim CEO Mike Gera, of Pond Ventures, along with Prof. Ironside, Chief Scientist; Dr. Simon Hicks, Chief Technology Officer; and Jeremy Chappell, Vice President of Marketing.

Dr Cathy Garner, Director of Research & Enterprise at the University of Glasgow, said: "We welcome this first constructive partnership with Pond Ventures which has been created through our Science Ventures unit. The success underlines the valuable impact of the innovative Proof of Concept initiative in speeding up deal flow from the Scottish universities."


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For further information contact the University of Glasgow press office on 0141 330 3535

About Essient Photonics

Essient aims to become a leading supplier of integrated III-V optoelectronic components for modulation and detection in 10Gbps and 40Gbps systems. The company has achieved significant breakthroughs in the design and manufacture of these components, and will offer products that demonstrate significant reductions in physical size and power dissipation. Essient?s products use drive voltages of 100mV, a fraction of today's levels. Essient?s unique technology platform enables the integration of many of the functions presently realized on a handful of discrete separately packaged components to be integrated onto a single chip. In turn, this allows engineers to reduce their power budget, while increasing integration possibilities. Headquartered in Glasgow, Scotland, the company was formed in February 2002. Essient?s technology is based upon 8 years of leading edge research that was conducted at the University of Glasgow. Early stage commercialization support was obtained from Scottish Enterprise. Essient recently closed first round funding of US$7 million, led by Pond Venture Partners, of Richmond, UK and San Jose, CA, who specialize in early stage investing in European technology companies.

Essient contacts: Yanira Clemente PR@vantage; 001 212 840 5900

About Pond Venture Partners

Pond Venture Partners Ltd. manages venture capital funds exclusively targeting early-stage technology companies in the UK and Europe. By working closely with founders to add value to its companies, through building of management teams, customer introductions at senior levels, helping establish US and Japanese operations, and managing subsequent venture rounds, Pond is bringing Silicon Valley-style venture capital to Europe. With offices in London, Silicon Valley and Tokyo, Pond has US$90 million under management. Pond is regulated by the FSA. For more information please see

Contacts: Helen Fry 0208 408 8000


First published: 20 March 2002

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