Swedes Sweet on Optical Startups

Swedish incubator aims to launch 20 new technology startups every year

September 15, 2004

3 Min Read
Swedes Sweet on Optical Startups

STOCKHOLM – For a country of just 9 million (mostly towheaded) people, Sweden has produced more than its fair share of successful optical networking startups, including Lumentis AB, Net Insight AB (Stockholm: NETI-B), Optillion AB, PacketFront AB, Transmode Systems AB, and Wavium AB.

But wait AB, there's more AB! A non-profit organization backed by the City of Stockholm called Kista Innovation & Growth (KIG) has set itself the target of launching 20 new technology startups a year from the end of 2004.

KIG appears to be unique among startup incubators. While most provide office, manufacturing space, and funding, KIG is different in that it concentrates on mentoring and business advice. "We provide a business coach one day a week for 12 to 18 months," explains KIG's CEO Par Hedberg.

However, finding office space or production facilities isn't exactly a problem for the startups it takes on, as KIG is located in Kista Science City, one of Europe's largest science parks, and home to contract manufacturers Flextronics Corp. (Nasdaq: FLEX) and Sanmina-SCI Corp. (Nasdaq: SANM). Incidentally, Kista (pronounced Sheesta), is also headquarters of telecom giant Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY).

Since it started out in 2002, KIG [ed. note: pronounced Sheeg?] has screened 251 projects and helped to launch 43 new companies, according to Hedberg – putting it bang on target. Currently, there are 15 startups in KIG's business programs.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the hottest optical startups being nutured in KIG's incubator:

  • CernoluX AB is developing a low-loss ROADM module that adds or drops a single channel from a group of wavelengths. Founded in August 2003 by a group of executives from the failed startup Proximion, CernoluX received its first round of funding in August 2004 (amount not disclosed). It is due to release prototypes before the end of 2004.

  • Like CernoluX, PhoXtal Communications AB is also developing ROADM components, but it's taking a different tack. PhoXtal describes its design as a couple of thin-film filters with the option of activating them or not (see PhoXtal Takes to the ROADM). The company recently partnered with Acreo AB, provider of an optical networking test bed, to provide ROADM capabilities for the bed. (See PhoXtal, Acreo Extend ROADM Testbed.)

  • Replisaurus Technologies AB has come up with a way of printing metal patterns onto silicon chips. Instead of taking six or seven steps of processing, the metal printing takes just a couple, which will reduce the amount of equipment required, and could slash processing times from a few hours to a few minutes. This is most likely to have an impact on electronics manufacturing, but would also be applicable to semiconductor optical components. The company has partnered with EV Group (EVG) to develop the first 200mm wafer processing equipment using the new process.

  • Syntune AB is commercializing a wideband tunable laser (see Altitun Execs Try Again). The company was founded by executives from pioneering tunable laser startup Altitun, employing a new laser design. First products were shipped in April 2004, although it will be another 18 months before Telcordia Technologies Inc. qualification is attained.

— Pauline Rigby, special to Light Reading

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