Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur: 30 Years of Photonic Start-ups in Academia and Industry
Every company – even the largest household names such as Google or Apple or even IBM - begins life as a start-up. Drawing on experience gained from Dr. Poole’s extensive start-up history, this presentation will look at how some of the companies and research groups in which Dr. Poole has been involved got started, what they did and how they subsequently developed and thrived. The presentation aims to inspire researchers who are considering how to commercialize their research to take the next steps and move out of the research lab and into the brave new world of commercialization.
Dr. Simon Poole is an engineer/entrepreneur with over 30 years experience in photonics in research, academia and industry. He has been involved in numerous successful start-ups in both Academia and industry and is renowned for both his contribution to the technology of photonics as well as the companies he has founded.
Dr. Simon Poole is an engineer/entrepreneur with over 30 years experience in photonics in research, academia and industry. He obtained his PhD from Southampton University in 1987 and was a member of the team that invented the Erbium-Doped Fiber Amplifier (EDFA) in 1985. In 1988 he moved to Australia and founded the Optical Fiber Technology Centre (OFTC) and subsequently Australian Photonics Cooperative Research Centre (APCRC) at the University of Sydney where he was director of the Sydney Node from 1991 to 1995. The APCRC grew to over 150 researchers and led to 15 start-ups which raised a total of over $250m in Venture Capital funding.
In 1995, Dr. Poole led the first spin-off company from the APCRC, Indx Pty Ltd which manufactured Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) for optical communications. Indx was acquired by Uniphase Corporation (now JDS Uniphase) for $US6m and subsequently grew to over 300 people with exports of over $100m pa. After leaving JDSUniphase in late 2000 he worked as a venture partner with KPLJ Ventures before co-founding Engana Pty Ltd in September 2001.
As Engana’s CEO Dr. Poole raised $13m in VC funding and oversaw the development and launch of Engana’s market-leading Dynamic Wavelength Processor line of Wavelength Selective Switches in early 2005. The company, now Finisar Australia, employs 280 people in Sydney and a similar number in China, with annual sales of Wavelength Selective Switches of >$100m pa.
In 2008, Dr. Poole started a new group within Finisar, the New Business Ventures Group, to generate new, high value added businesses using the principles of Open Innovation. The first business within this group was the highly successful WaveShaper range of Programmable Optical Processors which already has sales of over $6m pa.
Dr. Poole is a Fellow of the IEEE in 2001 and is also a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers Australia (FIEAust), a Senior Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (SMIET) and a Chartered Engineer (CEng). He has published over 150 refereed papers in journals and international conferences as well as filing 7 patents, including the initial patent on the EDFA.
Prof. John Bowers, Dr. Simon Poole & IPS President Sudha Srinivasan after Dr. Poole's lecture.
Dr. Simon Poole gave a fantastic lecture, attended by researchers from many fields beyond photonics.
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