With backing from a leading Canadian venture capital company, Fiber Optic Systems Technology Inc. (FOX-TEK) announced the closing of $3.2 million (US$2.1 million) in outside financing and completion of agreements that mark the official launch of the company. FOX-TEK is backed by Toronto-based strategic venture capital company, Pinetree Capital Corp.(CDNX: PNP.) Pinetree contributed $2.15 million (US$1.4 million) of the total investment, making it the lead investor in the deal.
FOX-TEK, with laboratories and offices in Toronto, and offices in Philadelphia, builds intelligence into structures. The company modifies standard fiber optic cable to gauge the integrity of large structures.
"This is the technology that integrates intelligence and communications capability into large-scale structures," said FOX-TEK scientific advisor and aerospace engineer Dr. Roderick Tennyson. "FOX-TEK is at the heart of the development, design, fabrication and introduction of intelligent sensing which will accurately monitor factors such as physical strain and temperature within existing or new-build structures such as bridges, pipelines, buildings and dams."
FOX-TEK is launching on a new construction technology called 'smart structures.' Lengths of glass fiber optic cable are specially designed and treated, and then embedded in or bonded to concrete structures. FOX-TEK's sophisticated monitoring devices are connected to the embedded fiber optic cables. The data extracted from the fiber optic cables and analyzed by the monitoring devices provide precise information on strain and temperature within the structure. The data from these sensors will translate into extended life of infrastructure, as well as significant time and cost savings for the civil engineering community.
FOX-TEK enters an existing fiber optic sensor market expected to grow from $100 million (1998) to $350 million (2008). FOX-TEK technology is also designed to replace a portion of the existing semiconductor-based sensor market, expected to grow from $12.6 billion to $21.8 billion by 2008. The over-all sensor market is ramping up to deal with massive deterioration in national infrastructure; corrosion of steel in concrete in Canada alone is an estimated $44 billion problem.
FOX-TEK's founders include Tennyson, former two-term director of the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Science; American high-tech entrepreneur and investor Gary Jolly, president of FOX-TEK, and Photonics Research Ontario, a provincial Centre of Excellence. FOX-TEK's scientists will advance research and innovations developed with ISIS Canada (Intelligent Sensing for Innovative Structures), a federal Network of Centres of Excellence headquartered at the University of Manitoba; and by McMaster University, in partnership with Materials and Manufacturing Ontario, an Ontario Centre of Excellence, in the area of optical laser light sources.