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5 August, 2022 - 17:16 By Tony Quested

CamGraPhIC technology could become world-leading as funding takes off

CamGraPhIC, a Cambridge University spinout, has raised more than £813k from Wealth Club clients through the Enterprise Investment Scheme to scale its graphene-based photonics technology.

This takes its total amount accrued to £1.26 million, which has been raised through an equity funding round from existing and new investors led by Frontier IP and Wealth Club. 

A previous funding round, in September 2021 raised £1.6 million, valuing the company at £7.2m That money was raised through an Advanced Subscription Agreement meaning that shares will be issued at a later date, either as part of a future funding round or converted.

CamGraPhIC is developing graphene-based photonics technology for scalable, faster and cheaper optical transceivers – devices at the centre of high-speed data and telecoms networks. 

Its proposition has the potential to become a core enabling technology for next generation 5G networks and beyond. 

The transceivers are also said to be more energy efficient, meaning they are not only cheaper to buy but also to run. Other applications will include 6G mm wave which will allow data to be transferred at speeds up to 1 terabit per second, High Performance Computing and networks to handle the demands of artificial intelligence. 

Progress to date has been highly encouraging. Current versions of the technology have indicated speeds of up to 100Gbps per lane and operation across multiple wavebands. 

That speed is about twice that achieved in laboratory conditions by equivalent technologies while it is projected that they consume 70 per cent less energy.

Proceeds from the latest funding round will be used to complete fabrication and testing of the demonstration devices. The technology has attracted interest from major multinationals in the semiconductor and telecoms sectors. Customer testing is expected to begin in September.

Graphene, often described as “wonder material”, is the thinnest material known to man but about 200 times stronger than steel. Scientists view it as having remarkable optoelectronic properties, so it can convert electrical signals to modulated light signals and back at super-fast speeds (100+ gigabits per second) – hence its appeal for 5G infrastructure applications. 

Sir Michael Rake, the former chair of BT Group plc, is an investor in CamGraPhIC and will be joining its board by the end of year. He is advising the company on an informal basis.

Sir Michael is chair of Wireless Logic Group, chair of Ola UK Pvt, chair of Phoenix Global Resources plc, Majid Al Futtaim Holdings LLC, Newday Group UK and is also a senior adviser for Citi Group.

His previous roles, in addition to chairing BT Group, include chair of Worldplay Group plc, EasyJet plc and president of the Confederation of British Industry. He was also a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group, deputy chair of Barclays plc and a director of S&P Global Inc.

Alex Davies, CEO and founder of Wealth Club said: “As a significant existing shareholder (20.9 per cent) in the company, we were delighted to be able to support CamGraPhIC for the second time. 

“Wealth Club clients invested over £800,000 in this latest round and having previously invested £1.5m this gives the business the best opportunity to ramp up progress in a race to become the first to launch this exciting new technology to market.

“CamGraPhIC presents an opportunity for our clients to invest in an exciting early-stage technology business, with the benefit of the EIS tax scheme. The company has the potential to be a leading manufacturer of next-generation optical devices for use in global 5G markets. 

“While still under development, the products appear to be delivering performance at low cost and have achieved key milestones since the last funding round. 

“The company has a compelling mix of stakeholders – strong academics, strategic investors and management with close links to major industrial partners.” 

Paul Mantle, CEO at CamGraPhIC, added: “We are delighted to progress this funding round. Our graphene-based photonics technology has the potential to transform high-speed data and telecommunications. We look forward to evaluating the technology with customers and receiving the first results.”

And  Sir Michael Rake observed: “As an investor and informal adviser to the company I have been very impressed with its technology and the possibilities that it opens up for transforming the vital infrastructure of data and telecommunications networks.” 

By next year, it’s estimated there will be over 29 billion internet-connected devices in use around the world – more than three for every person alive today. 

As our use of the internet continues to grow exponentially, mobile networks are turning to 5G to accommodate the escalating surge in data traffic. However, it’s expected that current technologies supporting 5G infrastructure may not be able to cope and a bottleneck is forecast as early as 2023. CamGraPhIC is aiming to address the issue.

• The underlying graphene-photonics technology, which has a host of further applications, is being developed under licence from the University of Cambridge.

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