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Marlin-backed start-up Elenion targets silicon photonics

Elenion Technologies, a company backed by global investment firm Marlin Equity Partners, has emerged from stealth mode to reveal that it is developing silicon photonics technology and associated products.

The company appears to be an evolution of another company from the Marlin portfolio, Silicon Lightwave Services, a photonics design services company that was purchased by Marlin in 2014. Elenion’s chief executive officer Larry Schwerin was previously CEO of that start-up as were a number of other key team members.

Elenion has been incubated alongside another Marlin property, Coriant, a global supplier of packet-optical networking and data centre interconnect (DCI) systems. Elenion continues as a separate business but Coriant appears well positioned to become its first customer.

“Following over two years of focused R&D, including extensive coordination with Coriant, we are excited with the progress Elenion’s experienced team has demonstrated in the development of next-generation photonic integrated circuit products,” said Doug Bayerd, a principal at Marlin. “Elenion is uniquely positioned to capitalise on one of the industry’s most promising technologies and accelerate the introduction of commercially-ready advanced communications solutions.”

Elenion is developing next-generation photonic integrated circuit technologies and products for a broad range of datacom and telecom applications. No technology or product details were provided at this stage, but the seasoned team has strong credentials in silicon photonics, lasers, electronics and advanced optical packaging.

The executive roster also includes Michael Hochberg as Elenion’s chief technology officer. Hochberg co-founded two previous start-ups in the silicon photonics space – Simulant and Luxtera – and was also the director of the OpSIS foundry-access service, which created a community of hundreds of silicon photonic designers around the world. OpSIS was the first organisation to offer silicon photonic multi-project wafer runs including an integrated photonics developer kit with a library of passive devices, high-speed modulators and detectors, but lost its funding in 2014.

The silicon photonics space is hotly contested and Elenion will face stiff competition from start-ups and established vendors alike as well as from government-backed initiatives such as the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), set up in 2015 with the aim of making the US a leader in photonics manufacturing (see New York bid wins US photonics manufacturing competition).

Uwe Fischer, executive vice president of R&D and PLM, and CTO of Coriant, voiced support for Elenion via the press release: “As a systems provider, silicon photonics brings tremendous value and competitive differentiation to the solutions we offer our customers,” he said. “Ongoing collaboration with innovators like Elenion provides opportunities to strengthen our industry-leading solutions by pushing the boundaries in system density, flexibility and power efficiency.”

Elenion is headquartered in New York with offices in San Jose, California and Munich, Germany.

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