11 Jul 2023
Startup company will establish an in-house test facility for optical components to control high-output, high-repetition-rate lasers.
EX-Fusion, the Japanese startup pursuing the commercialization of laser fusion, says it has raised an additional ¥1.8 billion ($13 million) in seed funding.
The latest injection of cash comes on top of a “pre-seed” round of around $1 million that the Osaka University spin-out announced just over a year ago.
Co-founded by CEO Kazuki Matsuo, Osaka University professor Shinsuke Fujioka, and Yoshitaka Mori, an associate professor at the Graduate School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries in Hamamatsu, EX-Fusion says that it has so far focused on the development of components for laser control.
“Through this round of funding, we will establish our own facility and prepare an environment for integrated testing of these components,” stated the firm.
“In addition, larger components are required to control higher-output lasers. In order to become a global leader in future nuclear fusion energy science, we aim to achieve in-house production of dedicated laser systems and advanced manufacturing technologies, as well as establish a variety of optical industries centered on laser fusion, and make significant progress as a producer of clean energy.”
The plan is to combine high-output, high-repetition-rate lasers with suitable targets and cutting-edge optical control to realize the world's first commercial laser fusion power plant.
“EX-Fusion will explore many new technology areas, including clean energy generation, and maximize the potential of laser fusion energy,” added the firm. “We will contribute to the development of technology in various optical industries, not limited to the energy sector.”
‘Sun on Earth’
Masahiro Samejima from lead investor ANRI commented: “We have been supporting the company since the pre-startup stage of the technology concept, and we feel that the world's attention to laser fusion is rapidly increasing due to the research results of the NIF.
“On the other hand, there are still various elemental technologies to be developed and time to realize laser fusion, so we would like to support the company steadily as a "patient capital" that can carefully nurture such "tough tech" in a long-term perspective, without being too affected by the trends of the world.
“Let's somehow deliver the "sun on earth" to humanity.”
• The support for EX-Fusion came shortly after Focused Energy - a US-Germany startup pursuing the same goal - added $11 million to its series A round of venture funding.
Bringing its total funding to $82 million so far, including research grants from federal agencies in the US and Germany, the top-up was led by Prime Movers Lab, alongside prior investors VCP Capital and Tony Florence.
"Two of the world's most innovative countries believe in our approach and are backing the work and research of our teams," said Markus Roth, Focused Energy’s co-founder and chief scientific officer.
CEO Thomas Forner, also a co-founder, pointed out that the latest funding had been achieved amid a markedly weaker market environment for venture capital support over the past year.
Prime Movers Lab founder and general partner Dakin Sloss, who is also the Focused Energy chairman, added: “We believe that Focused Energy is the leading inertial fusion company and the continued technical progress and support from the US and German governments proves that this team is the most likely to commercialize laser-based fusion energy with economically competitive power plants.
“I spend more time working with the Focused Energy team than any other company because I believe it has the greatest potential to transform billions of lives delivering on the promise of abundant sustainable energy.”