Investment accelerates TU/e spinoff MicroAlign

Investment accelerates TU/e spinoff MicroAlign

10 Dec 2021

A new investment by PhotonDelta and the Smart Industries TTT Fund, managed by Innovation Industries, will support MicroAlign in accelerating its technology and product development. MicroAlign intends to use the investment to optimise the quality of optical fibre-to-chip connections and to explore market opportunities for these products. The spinoff is located in Twice's start-up hub Alpha.

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. “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”, said Simone Cardelli, CEO at MicroAlign. “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.”

Valorization strategy
The investment is also indicative of the 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.

“For us, this is indeed a nice confirmation of the path we have chosen,” says Jeroen van Woerden, managing director of The Gate, the platform for tech start-ups in the first phase of their existence. “We do everything we can to accelerate initiatives that arise within the university to become a company. This often involves PhD or scientific research that eventually leads to the establishment of a company, but The Gate is also very active in supporting students and tech entrepreneurs in the Brainport region with the successful launch of their start-up.”

Manipulating multiple optical fibers

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.

Pieter Klinkert, Fund Manager PhotonDelta, is happy to see innovative startups like MicroAlign arise in the 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.”

Innovation Industries is always on the lookout for investment opportunities in photonics-based companies, Pleuni Hooijman, says. “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.” 

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