Bookham founder resurfaces at Rockley Photonics

Dr. Andrew Rickman, who previously founded Bookham Technology in the UK – now Oclaro, Inc. (NASDAQ: OCLR) following a series of mergers and takeovers – is stepping back into the optical technology fray as chairman and CEO of Rockley Photonics Ltd. The UK-based start-up focuses on silicon photonics for next-generation data communication networks and has closed its Series A funding round following what the company says were “high levels of investor interest.”

Dr. Andrew Rickman, who previously founded Bookham Technology in the UK – now Oclaro, Inc. (NASDAQ: OCLR) following a series of mergers and takeovers – is stepping back into the optical technology fray as chairman and CEO of Rockley Photonics Ltd. The UK-based start-up focuses on silicon photonics for next-generation data communication networks and has closed its Series A funding round following what the company says were “high levels of investor interest.”

Neither the investors nor the amount of funding were disclosed.

Silicon photonics technology is used to integrate various optical functions on a silicon chip in much the same way that traditional semiconductor chip technology integrates various electrical functions on a silicon chip. This technology has the potential to efficiently increase bandwidth capacity in data communication networks to enable faster and more efficient cloud services and Internet applications, Rockley Photonics explains.

Rockley Photonics isn’t saying exactly what form its silicon photonics development will take, but notes it was founded by “an experienced management team with success in commercializing silicon photonics.” That includes Rickman, who left Bookham in 2005 to set up a private technology investment firm, Rockley Ventures. Rickman recently acted as chairman to one of Rockley’s investments, Kotura Inc., before it was sold to Mellanox last year (see “Mellanox to buy silicon photonics developer Kotura”).

He points out that investor groups achieved more than a 10X return from Bookham’s public offering and 4X from Kotura’s trade sale.

“I have been closely involved with silicon photonics for 23 years and Rockley Photonics represents the commercialization of silicon photonics technology in its most exciting form yet,” said Rickman. “There is strong demand in the market for the speed and integration capabilities that silicon photonics can provide and we aim to apply our experience to enable accelerated adoption of higher bandwidth networks for a faster and more productive internet experience.”

The start-up says the funds secured will be used for a number of product development and growth initiatives, including the expansion of the company’s engineering team in Pasadena, CA. It is currently advertising for silicon photonics component, RF optoelectronics, and semiconductor device design engineers, integrated photonics fabrication and process engineers, and software/systems architect engineers to work in Pasadena.

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