ITF Scores $25 Million
First, this isn't a case of existing investors reluctantly stumping up some cash to keep ITF afloat. Far from it. François Gonthier, ITF's founder and CTO, says $15 million of the new round has come from new investors -- Société Générale de Financement du Québec, a fund owned by the Quebec state, and BayTech, a Munich-based venture capital company. Existing investors include Terry Matthews' Celtic House International and a bunch of other parties (see ITF Optical Closes $28M Funding).
Second, ITF makes components whose main use is in Raman amplifiers and Erbium Doped-Fiber Amplifiers (EDFAs) -- the kit used to boost light so it can travel long distances over fiber. And of course, that market is as dead as a doornail right now.
Investors clearly think that it's worth keeping ITF going until the market recovers. The $25 million will last a fair time in Quebec, according Hélène Chartier, ITF's VP of marketing, because Canadian salaries and other costs are considerably lower than in the U.S. ITF has 140 on staff, and 60 of those are working on R&D.
More than 60 customers bought ITF's products last year, most of which are based on a couple fiber innovations.
In one case, a filter is formed by heating and stretching a fiber in a very controlled way, so that it necks.
In the other case, two fibers are heated and fused together to create a device that can split or combine light of two wavelengths. ITF claims it's the only company that can do this with wavelengths that are very closely spaced. Competitors using liquid crystal technology can only combine or split wavelengths that are far apart, such as 1550 and 1310 nanometers, according to Gonthier.
As these components comprise fiber from end to end, they're particularly suitable for use in handling high-power light in amplifiers, where epoxy interfaces with components such as filters have been known to create problems in the past (see JDSU in EDFA Recall and JDSU Says EDFAs Fixed).
These two types of fiber components, together with its Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs), have been combined in more than a dozen products. These include a range of couplers, pump combiners, multiplexers, and stabilizers, together with depolarizers, gain flattening filters, interleavers, and demodulators.
— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading