December 18, 2017

Author Stephen Hardy - Editorial Director and Associate Publisher

Silicon Catalyst Portfolio Company AEPONYX says it has closed a seed round of CAN$4.3 million that will help enable the Canadian firm to complete development and begin production of its micro-optical switch chips.

The round, led by Fonds Innovexport and Ecofuel Fund in collaboration with private investors, brings to CAN$10 million the funds the company has received for this effort, with the other sources including California-based incubator Silicon Catalyst's in-kind contribution (see "AEPONYX enhances MEMS silicon photonics efforts by joining Silicon Catalyst incubator") and secured non-dilutive government financing.

The micro-optical switch chips leverage the company's micro-electrical-mechanical-system (MEMS) and silicon photonics expertise. AEPONYX and its investors believe its chips will enable tunable optical transceivers and optical circuit switches. "The level of our technological innovation is at par with leading platforms in the fast-growing markets that can leverage it," asserted AEPONYX CEO Philippe Babin, "including next-generation fiber-optic telecommunications access networks, data centers, and 5G mobile networks which, combined, represent a multi-billion-dollar opportunity."

"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," added Richard Bordeleau, president of Fonds Innovexport. The development of cost-effective tunable ONT optical transceivers is one of the major milestones that will determine when NG-PON2 technology achieves significant deployments (see "NG-PON2 tunable transceiver work shows signs of progress"). AEPONYX has performed extensive investigation of WDM PON with an eye toward commercialization of the technology (see "AEPONYX to launch C-Band 10G WDM-PON at OFC 2015").

The company expects the devices to reach production by 2019.

Fonds Innovexport invests in start-up companies headquartered in the Province of Quebec. Innovexport comprises 25 entrepreneurs as well as the Government of Quebec represented by Investissement Québec, the Fonds Espace CDPQ de la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Desjardins - Innovatech, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, and Fondaction CSN. The firm also receives financial support from the City of Quebec's Economic Development Strategy Program.

Ecofuel is a venture capital fund and a specialized and personalized accelerator dedicated to cleantech startups. The Ecofuel Fund, co-founded by Cycle Capital, is sponsored by Investissement Québec, acting as mandatory of the Government of Québec; BDC Capital, the investment arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC); Fondaction; Fonds de solidarité FTQ; and the Centre Québécois de valorisation des biotechnologies (CQVB). The fund sees the micro-optical switch chips as an example of energy-efficient innovation.