Montreal-based micro optical switch provider AEPONYX Inc. announced it has raised a $4.3 million seed funding round. The round was led by Fonds Innovexport and the Ecofuel Fund, in collaboration with private investors.
This funding will allow AEPONYX to complete the development and industrialization of its revolutionary planar micro optical switch chips based on a unique proprietary platform combining silicon photonics with micro-electrical-mechanical-system (MEMS).
AEPONYX graduated from Silicon Catalyst, the world’s first incubator focused exclusively on semiconductors, based in California. The company designs and markets chips for fiber optic access to the cloud. Its patented technologies build the fastest, smallest, and most affordable micro optical switches for tunable transceivers and optical circuit switches.
The company also participated in the 14-week Ecofuel accelerator program last year.
“During the program, we prepared and tuned the pitch and initiated the fund raising campaign,” Philippe Babin, President and CEO of AEPONYX, told MTLinTECH. “We first had interest from private investors early in 2017. Parallel to that, we also pitched at Fonds Innovexport. Everything aligned, and Ecofuel stayed part of the process, as well.”
The Ecofuel accelerator is targeted at clean tech startups and powered by Cycle Capital, and offers the mentorship and expertise to help them in their green endeavors.
The funding, aggregated to the California-based incubator Silicon Catalyst’s in-kind contribution and to secured non-dilutive government financing, completes AEPONYX’s total investment of CAD 10 million for ramp-up of production by 2019.
“AEPONYX has exceptional potential to revolutionize fiber optic communications and to accelerate the transition to the new, faster and more efficient global NG-PON2 standard,” said Richard Bordeleau, President of Fonds Innovexport.
MEMS and silicon photonics-based micro optical switches dramatically increase the speed of large-scale telecommunications systems and reduce the energy needs of data centers.
“AEPONYX is a tangible example of how an energy efficient innovation can have a positive impact on the environment,” said Richard Cloutier, Managing Partner of the Ecofuel Fund. “We are happy to partner with AEPONYX and work with Philippe and the management team to build on this momentum to execute the company’s business plan.”
The funding will also help grow the Montreal office within the next few years.
“We are now a staff of 15 and will keep growing. We should exceed 25 full time jobs by the end of 2018 and then grow to 50 by 2019. We also work in collaboration with several universities, where about 10 scientists are/will be dedicated to our project in 2018,” said Babin.
The company is also dedicated to working with companies within the province for production, creating more local jobs.
“We are fabless and we will work with Quebec-based companies for the manufacturing, packaging and testing of our chips, which should create and maintain as much as 150 additional jobs by 2020 in this province. In total, that’s more than 200 jobs in this province by 2020.”