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CSEM spin-off finds venture capital

VCSELs are used in data communication and sensing applications (Avalon Photonics)

Avalon Photonics, a spin-off of the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), has successfully completed a new round of funding.

The company announced on Thursday it has raised $5.5 million (SFr7.25 million) in venture capital.

Vision Capital led the investment round this year, bringing back existing investors, such as Intel Capital, Viventures, the CSEM, as well as two new investors: Venture Incubator from Switzerland and Germany's innotech.

This amount was significantly down from what it raised in its first round in late 2000, when the company attracted $14 million. The result reflects a less capital-intensive growth strategy.

Future prospects

According to Dr Heinz Meier, the recently hired chief executive officer, the fresh capital is what Avalon needs to break even. He added that the firm has the manufacturing capacity in place that it requires for the next three to four years.

Avalon makes Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSEL), optical devices that are made using processes from the semiconductor industry, making them much smaller and easier to produce in volume.

The company's revenues are split equally between sensor devices and data communications. Meier says that the data communications demand has stabilized.

Avalon's CEO is upbeat about future prospects, with indications that business will pick up after a number of years of falling demand.

by Valerie Thompson


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