PoLight raises another $19 million ahead of IPO

September 16, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
PoLight AS (Horten, Norway), a developer of piezo-MEMS auto-focus lens technology, has announced it has raised NOK160 million (about €17 million or $19 million).

The company said it had raised a similar amount – NOK146 million –  in February 2015 and that would be sufficient to take the company to volume production with its TLens technology (see PoLight readies MEMS lens actuator for mass production ).

Although PoLight has gone to investors with the same story in 2016 the company says the latest round included new investors and existing shareholders and was oversubscribed. The latest round brings the amount invested in PoLight to more than $60 million across four rounds.

The round attracted several Norwegian and international institutional investors including Investinor, Viking Venture, and Industrifonden,  a Swedish venture capital investor. These three accounted for approximately one third of the private placement. PoLight was valued at NOK610 million (about $75 million) after the share capital increase of NOK160 million.

PoLight was founded in 2006 as Ignis Display AS and states that is aims to complete an IPO within one year.

The TLens technology comprises a thin piezo-actuator layer on top of a thin glass membrane that deforms a soft polymer sandwiched with a thicker layer of glass. By applying varying voltages (up to 30V), the piezo-actuator forces the thin glass membrane to bend, deforming the polymer underneath it and varying the optical focus.

The TLens is claimed to be ten times faster than voice coil motor (VCM) driven lenses, while drawing 20 times less power. These features make them very attractive as a replacement for bulkier VCM assemblies, also enabling fast consecutive multi-focus shots to implement full-focus photos in software.

Working with foundry partner STMicroelectronics and Theil, the assembly partner in Taiwan, the production of the first product, TLens Silver has been qualified. The priorities going forward will be to ramp up production and secure the first customer. PoLight said it is talking several potential customers.

"We have received very positive feedback on our story, as well as on our progress over the past couple