We have recently made an investment in RoadMap for the University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund V in a Series ‘B’ financing.

RoadMap is founded on four patents licensed from the Cambridge Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) in the area of silicon wavelength switch technology.

Network operators are facing the triple challenge of increasing capacity to fulfil exploding internet data needs, managing unrelenting downward pressure on Opex and Capex costs, and supporting variable and fast evolving service features and demand patterns that put a premium on network configuration flexibility. This leads to a requirement for very flexible optical switching that can operate at the wavelength level. Conventional switch architectures no longer meet this need as they cannot accommodate next generation 400 Gbps data rates.

The telecommunication industry is also migrating towards ‘flexgrid’ architectures where the capacity of each channel is moderated to satisfy fluctuating demands. Spare capacity freed up by this can accommodate additional or rerouted traffic flexibly and dynamically by matching channel bandwidths to each signal’s required data rate. This advance relies heavily on software based approaches and these have the added benefit of future proofing networks as the software defined network (SDN) can be remotely modified to accommodate changing demand and new service types, protocols or standards. This is all accomplished without hardware network upgrades or physical interventions, thus reducing costs. The market is expanding with new customers (such as Google and Amazon) joining the existing set of Telco’s and carriers.

Flex-grid networking places severe demands on the underlying hardware, especially optical switches within the network known as a Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexers (“ROADMs”) which must be competitive and have good manufacturability whilst being able to accommodate the flexibility and programmable functionality required. Within ROADM the Wavelength Selective Switches (WSS) is the key component. The ROADM market has grown from zero to multi-$bn since 2002. The market has already chosen RoadMap’s core technology, namely Liquid crystal on silicon (“LCoS”) as the way in which WSS’s will be made as it has several major advantages. It allows nearly all parameters to be programmable and upgraded by software-remotely and efficiently.