Clean Growth Fund has co-lead a £2.4m investment alongside Foresight WAE Technology (FWT) Funds into Vector Photonics, a Glasgow-based laser developer.
The funding round also included continued commitment from existing investors UKI2S and Equity Gap, and new investment from Scottish Enterprise. This is Clean Growth Fund’s first venture capital investment in Scotland and the growing clean technology cluster in the region.
Vector Photonics is commercialising PCSELs (Photonic Crystal Surface Emitting Lasers) with the aim to revolutionise laser manufacture and performance. This new class of laser offers high speed and power and can be manufactured at low cost – three characteristics not simultaneously achievable with current semiconductor lasers.
The world relies on lasers. Datacentres use lasers to power their communications networks to access, share and retrieve the vast data volumes required by an internet-enabled world. Globally, these datacentres account for 2-3% of electricity usage and this demand is forecast to grow by up to 400% by 2030. Without advances in energy efficiency, this could result in an emissions footprint greater than today’s aviation industry.
Vector’s first product will target datacentre networks where they are more than twice as efficient as existing lasers. In this application they will also solve challenges which unlock higher speeds, allowing datacentres to meet ever growing demands. However, the emissions reduction opportunity is much greater, as PCSELs can replace legacy lasers across a range of existing and emerging sectors, including materials processing, quantum computing, optical sensing and LiDAR. As an example, their high-power lasers can improve efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of additive manufacturing (3D printing of plastic and metal) by allowing components to be processed 4-10x more quickly, saving >60% of the energy requirement.
Susannah McClintock, Investment Director at Clean Growth Fund, said:
“We are excited to be partnering with the Vector team as they pioneer a major revolution in laser technology. Lasers are ubiquitous, and we recognise the significant carbon savings that PCSELs can deliver by increasing energy efficiency across many applications. These efficiency savings are initially targeted at the large and growing emissions problem of datacentres, but the opportunity to deliver emissions savings is much wider. Clean Growth Fund was established to invest in the very best clean tech innovators across the UK and so we are delighted that Vector Photonics is our first investment in Scotland. The team combines world-leading technical and commercial expertise and we are excited to support one of the leading innovators in Scotland’s photonics ecosystem to address the climate crisis.”
Neil Martin, CEO, Vector Photonics Ltd, said:
“Vector Photonics is pleased to announce the £2.4 million equity investment to further commercialise its all-semiconductor, PCSEL technology. This investment comes from a group of specialist funding companies, Clean Growth Fund and Foresight WAE Technology (FWT) Funds, alongside the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (UKI2S), Equity Gap and Scottish Enterprise.”
“We are happy to welcome new investors in Clean Growth Fund and Scottish Enterprise, support from whom underlines our mission to bring high-efficiency PCSELs to market and in doing so, deliver emissions savings to a wide range of industries. Furthermore, this investment will allow us to grow our already world-leading technical team and create high-quality, green jobs here in Scotland. We are also pleased that Foresight WAE Technology (FWT) Funds, UKI2S and Equity Gap have continued to support us on this journey.”