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poLight closes oversubscribed funding round

05 Feb 2015

Norwegian developer of autofocusing camera lens technology for smart phones eyes future public listing.

poLight, the Norwegian company working on a fast-action tunable lens designed to enable autofocusing of mobile phone cameras, says it has raised another $19 million in private funding.

Supported by both new and existing investors, the latest round takes the company a step closer to its plan for a public offering of stock, as well as aiding efforts to commercialize the technology. poLight says that the round was oversubscribed, allowing it to accelerate both of those aims.

The company has developed what it claims to be the fastest autofocus actuator for use in future smartphone cameras. It has also patented what it calls a tunable optical lens capable of changing focus in an instant while only consuming tiny amounts of power compared with conventional technologies.

Another advantage is the possibility of “focus after the fact” in full resolution, meaning that people would be able to refocus the images that they capture after taking them, without compromising on image quality.

"poLight is on track for commercialization of its unique technology and is committed to the ambition of taking a leading role in the market for autofocus lenses used in mobile cameras," said poLight CEO Øyvind Isaksen in a statement announcing the latest funding round. Isaksen joined the company last Septmeber, taking over from Christian Dupont – who remains with the company as its chief marketing officer.

STMicroelectronics co-operation
Previously, poLight had been working with the foundry company SVTC Technologies to scale up its production process, but with SVTC having since ceased operations poLight says that it is now establishing a manufacturing co-operation with ST Microelectronics instead.

Several potential customers are said to be looking at the technology, and poLight is planning to begin volume production in the second half of 2015 - in time to catch a market that it believes will expand to a value of some $2 billion within two years.

The Stockholm-based technology and life sciences financing group Stiftelsen Industrifonden, originally set up by the Swedish government back in 1979, led the latest round of investment and is entitled to nominate a new poLight board member under the terms of the deal.

Dan Ekelund from the investor said: “poLight has the potential to become a leader in a billion-dollar market.”

Also providing new capital were existing investors Investinor, Viking Venture and Alliance Venture, alongside Norway’s TD Veen. TD Veen has previously invested in Bright Products, another Norwegian start-up. It has developed solar-powered lamps and mobile chargers for off-grid applications in the developing world.

poLight corporate video:

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