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7 April, 2016 - 18:17 By Tony Quested

ROADMap Systems clinches $1.7m Series A investment

Cambridge University spin-out ROADMap, which is pioneering wavelength selective switch (WSS) technology, has secured $1.7 million investment from institutional and private backers.

The funding will underpin the expansion of the St John’s Innovation Centre UK business as it takes its revolutionary technology to market.

The company, spun out of the university’s engineering department in 2014, is developing the next generation of WSS which is universal, flexible, and software up-gradable. These switches are used to create Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexers (ROADMs) which are now a fast expanding part of optical telecom networks, enabling the flexible use of different wavelengths of light that carry traffic through the network.

As network demand burgeons, being driven by unrelenting consumer appetite for streaming, internet and cloud applications, carriers are looking to increase the efficiency with which they use their optical resources, which has led to the creation of flexible, software-controlled networks.

Such systems rely on ROADMs to allow traffic to be routed without the need to convert from optical to electrical signals. The ROADM market is forecast to reach $11 billion by 2020 and WSSs are the critical enabling technology within these.

Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) technology, which was pioneered at Cambridge, has emerged as the only suitable candidate to meet the demands of current and future needs and ROADMap Systems is developing these into the next-generation WSS, which are densely integrated to achieve high performance and low cost.

ROADMap CEO Karl Heeks said: “We are grateful to our seed investors, who have all re-invested in this Series A round, together with new investors for their support in the company.

“We are developing a highly innovative WSS solution that is protected by a suite of patents and which we believe will provide profound benefits, in both current markets for optical networks as well as opening up potential new and exciting markets in data-centres and optical computing.”

Chairman Ian Vance added: “The market is about to expand rapidly and this investment positions us to participate in this evolution. Our solutions will create the breakthrough in cost/performance that has been missing from this layer of telecoms and datacoms networks.’

The round was led by Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, who also led the earlier funding rounds. Head of seed funds Anne Dobree said: “We are looking forward to continuing to partner the team at ROADMap as they enter the next stage of development and start to bring their ground-breaking WSS technology to the marketplace.”

• Pictured (left to right) at the recent Optical Fibre Conference in Anaheim USA: Dr Brian Robertson, VP engineering; Professor Daping Chu CTO; Dr Karl Heeks CEO; and Dr Haining Yang, senior engineer.

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