Funds managed and advised by Amadeus Capital, Apax Partners and Mint Capital have invested 9 million euros in ACOL Technologies SA, a Geneva-based company developing new technologies for high brightness light emitting diodes (HBLED) used in public lighting, including road and rail signals, outdoor signage and general illumination.
ACOL Technologies S.A. is a spin out from Moscow-based Corvette Light. The business was founded in 1998 by two Russian scientists, who took their ideas for a new technology to improve the quality and reduce the cost of HBLEDs to Corvette. Corvette Light funded R&D for new products and then successfully piloted them in the Russian automotive, rail and architectural lighting markets.
Realising that the business had global potential, Corvette sought partners to help expand the company internationally. Simultaneously, they were approached by Jean-Charles Herpeux, the former European MD of US hard disk manufacturer Quantum, who built up a team for bringing innovative technologies to worldwide markets. Mr Herpeux’s team and the Corvette Light team agreed to join forces and seek funding for international expansion. The company, now named ACOL, with Sales and Marketing as well as Customer Engineering activities located at the Geneva Headquarters, will retain its R&D facility in Russia, led by co-founder Alexander Shisov. Manufacturing will be outsourced.
The market for HBLEDs is growing at an average 40% per annum, driven by the fact that HBLEDs use 10% of the power of other lighting technologies and last ten times longer. At the moment, HBLEDs are used almost exclusively in commercial lighting applications, but in the next ten years it is anticipated that they will replace incandescent, fluorescent and other lighting technologies in domestic applications as well.
HBLED lamps comprise Solid State LED chips that emit light, packages that remove the heat generated by the electric current flowing through the chip and direct the light, lenses that focus the light and minimise reflection, and chemical compounds that modify colour and enhance reliability. ACOL has developed proprietary technologies which address a number of the problems inherent in today’s HBLEDs, including cost, heat dissipation, size of lamp, development cost and the difficulties of customisation.
ACOL has approached most of the market leaders in its market segments as well as some second tier players. The results of product evaluations have been extremely favourable and joint development projects are now in progress with some of them. This round of funding will be used to take ACOL’s products to the global HBLED market.
“ACOL’s combined focus on thermal management and precision primary optics provides a unique and compelling offer to integrators of HBLEDs”. says Jean-Charles Herpeux, CEO of ACOL Technologies. ”We now have the necessary funding to pursue our ambitious growth strategy, satisfy the strong market interest in our new products, and bring an unmatched value to our OEM and Distribution customers. In addition, our financial partners bring ACOL’s Board of Directors proven experience in developing leading edge international businesses.”
Amadeus Capital Partners’ Barak Maoz comments: “ACOL has the potential to become one of the most important players in the global LED market. With its unique and valuable technologies and products, ACOL has already built a sustainable advantage in a large and growing market and has the management team to achieve its ambitions”.
Torsten Krumm of Apax Partners, points out: “For some time we have been looking for interesting, young, high tech companies in Eastern Europe. We are impressed with ACOL`s technological leadership and are convinced of the future potential of this company. ACOL fits perfectly in Apax balanced funds strategy which focuses on fast growing and innovative newcomers”.
Alistair Stobie of Mint Capital, says: “ACOL is a perfect marriage of innovative Russian technology with an international management team capable of addressing this large and growing market. For historical reasons, Russian technology tends to create different solutions to known problems. ACOL’s world class R&D team have created a disruptive approach to the global LED market.”