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VCs bet on Light Blue Optics

21 Jul 2009

Despite the economic gloom, Light Blue Optics has raised an additional $15m in venture-capital funding to accelerate development of its holographic laser-projection system.

Light Blue Optics, a UK developer of laser-based pico-projection systems, has secured another $15m of venture-capital funding. The investment, which adds to the company's initial series A financing of $26m, will enable Light Blue Optics to accelerate its product development roadmap for applications in industry, automotive displays and consumer electronics.

"We now have the technology, experienced team and strong investor syndicate in place to become the world's leading supplier of miniature projection systems," claimed Chris Harris, CEO of Light Blue Optics. "It's a very exciting opportunity, not least in the consumer electronics space where the market for pico-projectors has been forecast to exceed $1bn within five years."

Light Blue Optics, based in Cambridge, UK, has pioneered holographic laser-projection technology that eliminates the need for a projection lens and focus control. It works by generating a diffraction pattern of the desired image on a microdisplay, which when illuminated by laser light allows a large, full-colour image to be projected onto a surface.

This diffractive technique lends itself to miniaturization, and allows images to appear on curved and angled surfaces without distortion. The projection system can even be touch-enabled, which means that any flat surface such as a table can be transformed into a touch-sensitive display. Harris anticipates that the company's first commercial product - a projection engine that can be integrated into an accessory pico-projector – will be released to OEM customers towards the end of this year.

The series A extension was led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC), with existing investors 3i Group, Earlybird Venture Capital, Capital-E and NESTA also participating.

Claus Schmidt, managing director of RBVC, noted: "LBO impressed us with their potential to create and capture a new product category of mobile, energy-efficient, interactive displays. Its proprietary technology will open up entirely new applications and revenue opportunities in markets such as consumer electronics and we are pleased to join the existing investors in supporting this venture."

• Light Blue Optics has also appointed Paul Goodridge as chief financial officer. Goodridge has 20 years of financial management experience and a track record for company growth. He was previously director of finance at CSR plc for eight years, where he managed the company's migration from venture funding through to flotation on the London Stock Exchange and subsequent promotion to the FTSE 250.

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