Amadeus Capital, the technology investor, has, together with a syndicate of US and UK investors, invested £37 million of private equity capital in Southampton Photonics, a new UK company designing and manufacturing fibre optic components for the global telecoms market. Amadeus’ investment comes from its new fund, Amadeus II. Other investors include InterWest Partners, Sevin Rosen, and Quantum Venture Partners. 

Southampton Photonics, founded by Professor David Payne, has its roots in Southampton University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) led by Professor Payne. It will base its initial products on technology licensed from the University, much of which was developed and patented by the company’s team. In addition to the UK operation, Southampton Photonics will be establishing design, production and sales facilities in California, where it expects to employ over 200 staff by the end of 2002. 

The planned product range will fall into three categories – Fiber Bragg Gratings for optical filters with enhanced performance allowing more channels per spectral bandwidth; next generation EDFA broadband optical amplifiers, and DFB fibre laser arrays, which will provide closely packed channels for DWDM (Dense Wave Division Multiplexing), which will offer significant advantages over semiconductor lasers. All new products will exhibit performance parameters an order of magnitude greater than offered by current alternatives.

The management team is led by Professor David Payne, as Non-executive Chairman, and Don Spalinger, as acting President. Professor Payne led the team that, in 1986, invented the optical amplifier, the enabling technology behind DWDM. Mr Spalinger was previously Vice President/Practice Leader of worldwide telecommunications research at Gartner Group and, before that, founder and president of On-stream Networking, acquired by 3Com as its Broadband Access Division.

Commenting on the investment, Amadeus Investment Manager Badri Nathan says: “We are only at the beginning of the optical communications revolution. This sector is a key area of focus for Amadeus and the opportunity to help create one of the leading European firms in optical communications is very exciting for us”.