EPIC event connects investors with photonics firms

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Networking reception at the photonics investors meeting in Eindhoven

Carlos Lee on finding the right kind of investors for funding photonics tech









Most companies are going to need to raise capital at some point, and it is helpful to have investors who understand the photonics hardware industry. Ideally you want more than just money, you want suggestions on how to successfully establish and grow your company. But more critical is to have investors who understand the peculiarities of our industry, and do not detract the founders too much from their company strategy.

Many EPIC members started their company bootstrapping, relying on the generosity of friends and family or their own financial resources. Sometimes, they applied for regional grants for start-ups or received support from the university from which they spin-off. It's not uncommon for start-ups to engage in what is known as ‘seed’ funding or angel investor funding at the outset. At a later stage the companies may require series A-B-C-D funding rounds in order to develop prototypes, scale up to volume production, or expand their sales network and grow their business. While some companies managed to develop organically in the past, my impression is that nowadays many need to expand their business through outside investment because of external competitive pressure and the importance of entering the market as early as possible.

EPIC is neutral and confidential. I have personally interviewed over 30 investors to discuss their investment profile (and another 20 are already on the list). These individuals typically invest from a couple of hundred thousand euros to tens and hundreds of million euro for acquisitions. Everyone I spoke to has already invested in a photonics company, ranging from pre-seed all the way to round D investments and also acquisitions. The investors include individuals (business angels), venture capital firms (such as VigoVentures), private equity (such as Novo Tellus), corporate investors (such as Trumpf, Hamamatsu, Bosch, Merck, Focuslight, Nynomic), and growth funds (such as Jolt Capital). Some funds have a regional focus (such as BGF for the UK) and some invest globally but are based in the UK or Singapore. To align with EPIC’s European focus, EPIC actively recruits European investors but welcomes investors from any location in the world.

In the spirit and values of EPIC, we connect trusted actors of the network without judgment or preferential treatment. Connecting companies happens via email throughout the whole year, but we also organise events so that people have the opportunity to get to know each other personally, have more lengthy discussions, and exchange experiences. Afterall, EPIC is all about connecting people! The service of matching companies with investors is designed to benefit EPIC member companies, but we also engage with non-members. If your company is looking for investment, or to invest, do not hesitate to contact me personally at carlos.lee@epic-assoc.com

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