Optical Connections Magazine Summer 2022


In this article, Carlos Lee , EPIC’s Director General, talks to James Regan , CEO at EFFECT Photonics, a provider of highly integrated optical communications products based on its optical System-on-Chip (SoC) technology. EPIC CEO INTERVIEW JAMES REGAN, CEO, EFFECT PHOTONICS

EARLY CAREER In 1987, James started his career as a development engineer for Nortel Networks, the UK subsidiary of a Canadian multinational telecommunications and data networking equipment manufacturer. After a spell in engineering management, he was selected to help join Nortel’s newly created product line management team, which had been set up to develop business initiatives within the larger company. This was both an interesting and enjoyable experience as he was given the freedom to be creative, think laterally, and develop his entrepreneurial talents. His role was to find business opportunities for new technologies out of the research labs, such as optical cross connect switches and other optical components that he successfully sold to cable TV operators. Following his success starting, leading and building an EDFA business unit, in the late 90s, he was given the opportunity to go to Boston in the US to drive Nortel’s business development in North America. In 2001, looking for a new challenge he was recruited as Managing Director, Europe at Agility Communications, a

EFFECT PHOTONICS In 2011, he was introduced to Boudewijn Docter and Tim Koene, who in 2010, had set up EFFECT Photonics at the Technical University of Eindhoven to commercialise the technology they had worked on at the University. The technology in question was a tuneable laser that was based on a generic and comprehensive photonic integration approach. By growing different quaternary alloys of Indium Phosphide on a single wafer, all of the active and passive optical functions of an optical system could be created within a single chip. The chips could then be combined with simple packaging for high-volume, low-cost manufacture. James was excited by the possibilities of this technology and the team set to work looking at market opportunities and available sources of finance. They found commercial interest, brought financial expert Dennis Maas into the team, and were able to attract seed funding from the region to do early validation. They combined this with industrially funded projects they were able to obtain from interested customers whilst they began the search for substantial investment.

start-up developing tuneable lasers in indium phosphide. He successfully scaled up the business over the next few years and as the volumes went up and the prices went down, competitors that were not based on Indium Phosphide photonic integration were forced to drop out leaving just a couple of vendors. As a result, in 2005, Agility was successfully exited to JDSU, a US manufacturer of optical products and broadband communications. James stayed on for a year with responsibility for strategic marketing of telecom modules at JDSU. But in 2007, he left to set up his own consultancy, Isca Photonics Ltd., with the aim of using his experience to help photonics start-ups develop their business. For the next five years, he worked with several start-ups, mainly in the US, brought in business developer Robert Hughes and in collaboration with John Lincoln, he also established photonics networks in southwest of England. His aims were twofold: to bring together those who had been active in photonics before the crash in the early 2000’s and also to find potential partners to create a new business.


| ISSUE 29 | Q2 2022


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