Funding for Photonics 30th November 2018, Helsinki
Raising investments in one of the challenges of any business including a high-tech area like Photonics. For many years the growth of innovative light technology companies was organic (using own funds). One of a good example is the Finnish company Specim Oy – a pioneer and leading company in the global hyperspectral imaging industry. With 20 years of research behind and with the ability to take risks in the right moment, the company has organically grown to a technological leader in the realm of hyperspectral imaging.
For the last years, the situation is changing and many of Photonics companies today can get funding from VC, Business Angels, and Public Funding (both national and international). For that you don’t need to be excellent you need to be outstanding from many others. It is also needed to have a chance to meet with the investors and to raise their interest.
Funding for Photonics is the first-time event specially designed to help Finnish Photonics companies to find financial partners. It is the series of events organized by Photonics Finland aimed to raise the awareness of investors and funding bodies on the advanced companies in the field delivering top-notch and groundbreaking technologies and products.
The first edition of Funding for Photonics was held on 30th of November 2018 in Helsinki in the building of Business Finland. Business Finland was actively taking part in the event organizing and providing with the required resources. The event gathered together the Butterfly Ventures (one of the most active VCs in the Nordics that is funding companies at their early stage), the FiBAN (Finnish business angels network, one of the largest and most active business angel networks in Europe), the Business Finland, the three successful Photonics companies including Varjo Technologies, Dispelix Oy, Specim Oy, six growing photonics companies and the six TUTL projects (academic projects funded by Business Finland that grown to companies). The event was moderated by Juha Purmonen, the Executive Director of Photonics Finland.
In the opening speech, Dr. Jyrki Saarinen, a co-founder of Heptagon a world-leading wafer-level optics and optoelectronics company (exit valuation up to US$920M, now employing over 7 500 people worldwide), the Chairman/Vice Chairman/Member of the Board in seven SMEs, and at the same time the Head of the Institute of Photonics and Head of the Department of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu pointed out the importance of Photonics as the key enabling technology and why Photonics is in the loop of investors interest.
Companies Dispelix Oy and Varjo Technologies introduced their ways to get credit of trust from investors and shared business hints how to get funding. They already got significant funding from investors. Specifically, Dispelix Oy has raised €12,000,000 / Series A from 3M New Ventures and 3 other investors, while the Helsinki-based startup Varjo (2 year and 3 month and the event date) has raised to $46,000,000 investments. Unbelievable results for so young companies.
The high business and technological level of photonics companies pitched at the event including Comptek Solutions Oy, Hypermemo Oy, Gasera Oy, Ampliconyx Oy, SeeTrue Technologies Oy and Summa Semiconductor Oy is strengthened by the fact that four out of six got the European Horizon2020 SME’s instrument funding. This fact is showcasing that the level of Finnish photonics companies is very high in the European level.
While success stories by Photonics companies and pitches of growing companies and TUTL projects were a big issue during the event, connecting and networking of Funding bodies and companies were at least as important during the Funding for Photonics. Companies and Investment bodies representatives came together to talk about a wide variety of projects across topics. The forms of cooperation are plentiful and varied, and so were the opportunities at the Funding for Photonics to get to know new partners.
Photonics Finland will continue this successful practise. The next Funding for Photonics are planned for the end of November 2019 in nearby Slush.