Fibre-optic technologies are a thing of the present, yet not accessible to all considering the requirements and complexities of different applications in a wide range of contexts. Making photonics applications universally accessible, affordable, and sustainable requires more than the unwavering commitment and concerted efforts of people in a single entity such as a company or an institution. Such a goal calls for the development of a sustainable ecosystem that promotes knowledge and experience sharing and can have a significant impact on customers, investors, and future applications.
PhotonDelta is a growth accelerator for the integrated photonics industry by providing its partners with funding, network and knowledge. Its European network consists out of chip designers, module companies, foundries, researchers, software developers as well as potential offtakers. As an ecosystem, it aims to accelerate the development and manufacturing of integrated photonics solutions through innovation, reducing time-to-market, and creating economy of scale. In the Netherlands, it operates to very high standards regarding photonics applications in R&D. Its strong link to the Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/E) through EFFECT Photonics and the University of Twente, provides access to knowledge and innovation – an indisputable advantage for the whole ecosystem.
At the end of April 2020, EFFECT Photonics proudly joined the “PhotonDelta Flagship project“. The project connects and involves the main Dutch industry players in integrated photonics, which are now jointly collaborating in the PhotonDelta ecosystem to make space quality communication modules, reaching for the highest grade in the industry. The consortium is chaired by LioniX International, BRIGHT integrated Photonics, EFFECT Photonics, SMART Photonics, PHIX Photonics Assembly, Technobis, VTEC Lasers & Sensors and TNO. The companies cover the entire supply chain from chip design, manufacturing, assembly, packaging, and testing.
EFFECT Photonics is a frontrunner in the photonics industry with an impressive track record of innovation, sharing, collaboration and growth over the last decade. Initially a spin-off of the TU/E, the company is now a global market leader in optical transceivers, a key player in the telecoms industry and one of the founding members of PhotonDelta. “The network is aimed at building all parts of the supply chain together in the spirit of the semiconductor electronics model, with a number of specialist companies working together on different application areas,” President EFFECT Photonics Dr. Boudewijn Docter says.
EFFECT Photonics’ focus is on telecom applications with a view to offering an integrated, adjustable, and holistic product. From the outset, the company has consistently responded to ensuing market challenges with remarkable speed and resourcefulness. As a result, when packaging became an issue 10 years ago, the company promptly responded by making novel packaging happen in-house, lacking alternative options. In principle, EFFECT Photonics has always been committed to the idea of an efficient and effective ecosystem that could ensure unhindered performance and supply throughout different parts of the value chain.
A pioneering ecosystem – novel technologies and business practices
In the UK, the ecosystem has a lot to offer in the area of high-quality precision manufacturing. “That’s one of the key things we bring together in EFFECT Photonics – the hightech from the PhotonDelta network combined with manufacturing experience from the UK,” continues Docter.
As a pioneer of photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technology focusing on telecom applications, EFFECT Photonics spent several years making the technology applicable to volume production. The telecom market was first to adopt the PIC technology, rendering EFFECT Photonics as a promising volume driver of the PhotonDelta ecosystem, and a trailblazer from a technological and business viewpoint. Initiating an open model of collaboration through a network of companies, individuals and institutions is tantamount to revolutionising business practices in the industry. In contrast, competitors abroad appear to be adhering to a more conventional norm of a closed, in-house model rather than a collaborative one. Given current trends and circumstances in the industry, as well as global developments, EFFECT Photonics is confident that this open model is going to prevail going forward within PhotonDelta. This proposition is all the more justifiable in the light of current health hazards, natural disasters and worrisome financial circumstances. Challenging conditions impose a sense of urgency on all stakeholders and intensify the need to pool knowledge and resources. Ensuring optimal and timely outcomes throughout the value chain is a key prerequisite for a worthy and attractive investment opportunity in photonics.
An organic ecosystem – reaching out and maximising opportunities
The photonics ecosystem of the UK in Torbay has been built over the last 50 years and includes several competitors, such as Lumentum and II-VI. A great part of it originated from ITT, JDS-Uniphase and Nortel. Nortel employed 5,500 people in the area for their lead site, within the photonics network, which in turn led to their domination of the 10-Gig market. Today, the Torbay Hi-Tech Cluster provides products and services to a global multi-national community.
After the telecom crash, a lot of the manufacturing was outsourced, but a substantial number of skilled designers of high-tech products for photonics manufacturing stayed on. As a consequence, according to Dr. Paul Rosser, EFFECT Photonics VP of Operations, “there’s locally a strong ecosystem supporting the design and development of high-precision manufacturing equipment, for example things like fibre-align stations, if we look more broadly in the UK then we also do have access to leading Indium- Phosphide fabs as well, and there you could think of Lumentum.” Also, due to a partial link to Nortel, prior to the telecoms crash there was access to a global supply chain which EFFECT Photonics is keen to bring back and push for it to become more European through the Eindhoven initiative.
“We very much help to shape the consortium as it is right now, and all the partners that we work with locally are all members of PhotonDelta,” explains Docter. “So, for example we work with SMART Photonics, which is also a founding partner, as well as knowledge institutes like the TU/E where we do some collaborative research projects.” He points out that apart from sharing knowledge and experience in telecom and other application fields, funding is a major requirement for effective application and successful business development. “PhotonDelta has already made significant funding available for direct loans to partners of the ecosystem and R&D projects.” Docter adds, further reinforcing the pioneering yet pragmatic and sustainable mindset of the ecosystem.
About EFFECT Photonics
EFFECT Photonics delivers highly integrated optical communications products based on its Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) optical System-on-Chip technology. The key enabling technology for DWDM systems is full monolithic integration of all photonic components within a single chip and being able to produce these in volume with high yield at low cost. With this capability, EFFECT Photonics is addressing the need for low cost DWDM solutions driven by the soaring demand for high bandwidth connections between datacenters and back from mobile cell towers. Headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, with additional R&D and manufacturing in South West UK, with sales partners worldwide. www.effectphotonics.com
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