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Wave Photonics raises £4.5 million in seed funding

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The start-up intends to use its photonics design technology to reduce photonic product development times and enable the widespread deployment of PICs

Wave Photonics, a Cambridge-based deep tech start-up, has received £4.5 million to develop on-chip photonics designs for quantum technologies, sensors, and datacentre applications. The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (UKI2S) and Cambridge Enterprise Ventures led the round, with participation from the Redstone and QAI Ventures’ Quantum Fund, Kyra Ventures, and Deep Tech Labs. The investment round was complemented by non-dilutive funding via EIC and Innovate UK grants, taking the company’s total funding to date to £5.4 million.

Integrated photonics uses the same scalable process used to make semiconductor electronics chips to make circuits for light. It’s being used as the platform for energy-efficient communications, wearable healthcare sensors, rapid diagnostic tools, optical tensor processors, on-chip LiDAR, quantum computing and communication, and a host of other transformative technologies.

However, in contrast with the mature semiconductor chip process, taking a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) from a concept to mass production is time-consuming and often prohibitively expensive.

Since it was founded in May 2021, Wave Photonics says it has built and validated its core computational photonics design technology to reduce photonic product development time. The company’s mission is to help unlock valuable photonics markets by reshaping the inefficient and fragmented productisation cycle into an integrated and rapid process, analogous to the development of modern semiconductors.

Wave Photonics intends to use the new investment to take its technology from a research manufacturing line to a commercial foundry, with a particular focus on solutions for frontier applications such as quantum technologies and biosensing.

James Lee, co-founder and CEO, said: “The team has spent the past few years building and experimentally validating our design technology – it’s exciting to have the resources to begin deploying it to solve real industry problems.”

Mark White, investment director at UKI2S, said: “We are delighted to be co-leading this seed round for Wave Photonics. When we first met Jamie and his partners, we were very impressed by both the vision and the promise of the very innovative approach taken to design for the next generation of integrated photonics.”

Christine Martin, head of Ventures at Cambridge Enterprise, said: “Cambridge Enterprise Ventures is pleased to follow our initial pre-seed investment and co-lead Wave Photonics’ seed round with UKI2S. Integrated photonics is poised to disrupt high-value industries ranging from quantum computing to biosensing, and Wave Photonics’ team and technologies are in a great position to enable and accelerate the adoption of next-generation integrated photonics products.”

Chiara Decaroli of Redstone added: “Redstone has been impressed by what the team at Wave Photonics has achieved so far and are thrilled to support their next phase of growth and development. Integrated photonics is an expanding field with strong impact on quantum technologies, as well as diverse applications touching our everyday life. We believe Wave Photonics' products will play a significant role in shaping PIC's design in the future.”

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