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Start-ups get a chance to shine

17 Jun 2002

Laser 2001: A round-up of the European start-ups featured at the show.

Start-ups exhibiting at this year's Laser 2001 in Munich, Germany, include a range of European spin-offs from world-renowned institutions and companies, such as the Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) and the University of Ulm.

Unique Mode is an ILT spin-off that started out a year ago after receiving venture capital funds from German-based optics manufacturer Jenoptik. Employing 10 people, the start-up develops and manufactures miniaturized high-power diode-laser systems based on wide-stripe laser diodes for communications, laser-pumping and imaging applications. Looking to the future, Unique Mode's head of sales Albrecht von Pfeil says that the company hopes to broaden its base of products, to include devices of up to 10 W.

Grintech is a German-based optics-technology company that started life at the end of last year. Its four founders, researchers from ILT, have focused on developing gradient index lenses for beam shaping and fiber coupling in laser diodes. One such lens, for use in endoscopy, is fabricated by non-toxic silver ion exchange in glass. The company now has 12 employees and aims to target the communications, life sciences, laser-materials-processing and sensors markets.

Belgian-based VDM Laser Optics was launched in January of this year after receiving several million euros to develop optics and optical assemblies for high-power lasers. VDM is already active in laser and infrared optics research and is investigating next-generation power lasers and systems. Currently employing 5 people, the company is looking to expand its workforce.

An Ulm University spin-off, ULM Photonics was launched in September of last year after receiving euro 10 million from US-based Schott Communication Technologies. The company manufactures VCSEL chips, single devices and arrays for data communications, sensors and processing applications. Currently employing 15 people, the company is planning to expand. "We hope to expand and employ more than 30 people by summer 2002," said ULM Photonics's chief executive, Burghard Schneider. "We will have a good research focus."

Edgewave is an ILT spin-off that was set up in June of this year. The company has already produced a novel laser that is based on a diode-pumped slab-laser and spans a power range of up to 100 W. Edgewave believes that the lasers are ideal for engraving and marking, precision cutting, welding, drilling, surface structuring and cleaning.

Mad City Labs, Inc.Iridian Spectral TechnologiesSPECTROGON ABAlluxaOmicron-Laserage Laserprodukte GmbHCeNing Optics Co LtdLaCroix Precision Optics
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