DCU spin-out Pilot Photonics raises €1.8m in funding

Company is focused in the area of photonics, considered a key enabling technology

Frank Smyth and William Oppermann of Pilot Photonics, with Enterprise Ireland chief executive Leo Clancy and Kernel Capital partner Denise Sidhu. Photograph: Gerard McCarthy

Dublin City University spin-out Pilot Photonics has secured a further €1.8 million in funding from backers.

The company, whose technology is built on more than a decade's work by research teams at DCU and the Tyndall National Institute, was founded in 2011. It is focused in the area of photonics, the science of light and one of the key enabling technologies of the 21st century. It is used in everything from manufacturing, medical devices, telecoms, security and even for scanning grocery items.

Pilot Photonics has developed novel “comb laser” technology. Using its patented “gain switching” technique allows for the generation and manipulation of waves of light with exceptional precision and the creation of multiple lasers from a single device. Combining this with a semiconductor processing known as photonic integration, means Pilot’s devices are suitable for mass production and offer performance, size, cost, power, and stability advantages over traditional single wavelength lasers.

The technology has multiple applications across the communications, energy, and aerospace sectors globally.


Founded by Frank Smyth, Philip Perry, Prince Anandarajah, Liam Barry and Andrew Ellis, Pilot Photonics is led by William Oppermann, who previously founded Mpstor, which was acquired by Sanmina in a $40 million deal five years ago.

The Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund II led the latest financing. It also previously led a €1 million raise for Pilot Photonics in 2018 in syndication with Dublin BIC and Enterprise Ireland.

"Ireland was early to recognise the importance of photonics and has invested heavily in photonics research and development for more than 25 years. Pilot Photonics is leveraging that State investment in early-stage R&D to create advanced technology products with global potential," said Leo Clancy, chief executive, Enterprise Ireland.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist