|LONDON — Optical switch subsystem and
module makers Continuum Photonics Inc. and Polatis are
merging, but financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
However, just ahead of the deal, Prelude Trust plc
announced a £613,000 (about $1 million) investment in Polatis
(Cambridge, England) that will give Prelude a 19.7 percent
stake in the combined group.
The merger, described as a combination of “two, equally
strong and successful companies” is expected to close August
The companies say they will contribute intellectual
property and technology, products, people, and their existing
customer base into the merged entity, which has yet to be
They also say each would contribute “significant cash
toward the new company.” In addition, investors from the
existing investment team will contribute new capital to the
Continuum Photonics ( Billerica, MA) was founded in 1998
and offers a family of optical switches based on its patented
DirectLight switching technology. This provides integrated
switching, optical attenuation (gain equalization), and power,
and is targeted at the Optical Automation Systems (OAS)
market, with customers in carrier labs, data equipment
providers and telecom equipment manufacturers.
Continuum has products in development for telecommunication
network and network monitoring applications.
The company’s investors include Flagship Ventures, Prism
Venture Partners, JK&B Capital, Boston Millennia Partners,
Harris and Harris Group, GE Capital, MTDC, Arcadian Venture
Partners, and Gainesborough Investments.
Polatis, founded two years later, specializes on products
based on its Micro-Actuation and Sensing System (MASS)
platform, including a range of optical switch systems,
modules, and cards for both single mode and multimode fibre
applications. It sells mainly to communications, aerospace and
In March 2005, Polatis announced a worldwide sales
distribution agreement with JDS Uniphase. In addition to
Prelude, the British group is backed by 3i, Alta Berkeley and
While both offer optical switches utilizing patented,
beam-steering technology capable of sub-1 dB insertion loss
switches across a highly transparent switch fabric, the
companies stress these are differentiated products serving
different classes of customers, and thus there is little
The combined group “will continue the tradition of high
quality switching, while evolving toward a new class of device
– a Layer 1 optical device with new levels of functionality
integrated directly into the core platform.”
Both stress the combined operation will continue to support
products in the field.
The new company will be incorporated in the State of
Delaware, in the U.S., and will continue to maintain
operations in both the UK and U.S. Over time, the new group
expects to expand operations and sales offices in other
locations as needed.