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Dutch consortium buys into PIC manufacturer LioniX

11 Jan 2023

Local group including industry ecosystem PhotonDelta acquires €3.5M interest from Korean investor.

A Dutch consortium led by Invest-NL and FORWARD.one, and including Universiteit Twente Holding, Oost NL and PhotonDelta, has acquired a €3.5 million stake in the MEMS and photonic integrated circuit (PIC) producer LioniX International.

Enschede-based LioniX specializes in the development and production of customized microsystems, for applications across telecommunications, metrology, life science, instrumentation and the space industry.

Examples of photonics expertise include PIC modules based on silicon nitride waveguides, with multi-project wafer services available for the production of microsystems based around 1550nm, 850nm, and visible-range lasers.

The company has also developed an integrated photonics technology platform known as “TriPleX” that is aimed at applications ranging from augmented and vitrual reality (AR/VR), sensing, and telecoms, to photonic quantum computing.

In addition, LioniX offers full module development and production for its OEM customers with services like microfabrication, packaging and assembly, prototyping, testing and characterization, and engineering design.

Dutch courage
Commenting on the deal, which saw the Dutch consortium acquire its interest from a Korean investor, LioniX CEO Arne Leinse said: “This set of investors enables further growth for LioniX International towards the future. We are excited to continue developing and delivering cutting-edge microsystem solutions to our current, and new clients around the globe.”

Leo Holwerda, a director at Invest-NL, added: “This investment is an exciting step forward for both LioniX International and the Dutch tech industry as a whole. It fits perfectly with the ambitions of our Deep Tech Fund which aims to invest in knowledge-intensive start- and scaleups that have the potential to bring innovation in the Netherlands to the next level.”

Last year, PhotonDelta announced a €1.1 billion investment plan largely funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy that was intended to support 200 startups and help scale up PIC production in the country.

“It is part of the Dutch Government’s national plan to cement and expand the country’s position as a world leader in integrated photonics,” said PhotonDelta at the time.

ROADMs and vibrometers
LioniX is involved in a number of European and national-level projects to develop PIC-based products and applications, a recent example being the “LOLIPOP” effort on nonlinear optics, which aims to produce the first ever integrated laser Doppler vibrometer operating at 532 nm.

And under a Horizon Europe project called “SPRINTER”, LioniX is part of a collaboration looking to fabricate complex three-dimensional PICs for a disruptive reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM) to be used in high-speed data communications.

Other efforts have included work on a PIC-based optical coherence tomography module with the University of Amsterdam, and the development of wafers featuring red-green-blue laser light engines for augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) headsets (see image above).

Paul Pruijmboom, general partner at investor FORWARD.one, said: “LioniX has developed a technology that is a leader in the field of photonics with numerous potential applications.

“As a high-quality Dutch deep tech company, LioniX exemplifies the innovative potential of the Netherlands, and we are delighted to be a part of the company's future success.”

Chimwemwe de Gaay Fortman from Oost NL added: “With this investment in LioniX we strengthen our position in chip technology in East Netherlands. Together we built a strong Dutch photonics cluster with global impact.”

Ellen Velthuis, the CFO at University of Twente Holding, commented: “This investment in LioniX International is a further enhancement of the tech ecosystem in Twente, and will help to further establish Twente as one of the key photonics and quantum technology hubs in Europe.

“We are excited to do this investment together with Dutch partners and thereby strengthen not only LioniX, but also the Dutch ecosystem.”

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