poLight new cameras

Norwegian startup’s autofocus lenses could become a leader in the billion-dollar smartphone industry

Photo: Bart Everson / Flickr Fun with camera phone and mirror. poLight’s cameras may become the standard equipment used for these sorts of shenanigans.

Photo: Bart Everson / Flickr
Fun with camera phone and mirror. poLight’s cameras may become the standard equipment used for these sorts of shenanigans.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

The Norwegian start-up poLight is a specialist in autofocus actuators for mobile phone cameras. They’ve just raised NOK 146 million or USD 19 million in a private placement of shares directed towards new and existing investors. The funds will provide financing for the next steps toward commercialization and public listing.

poLight is the world leader in very high speed and ultra low power autofocus actuated micro lenses. The start-up was a spinout from Ignis AS in 2009, made possible by venture capital. It is located in Horten, Norway’s micro and nanotechnology cluster just south of Oslo. So far they have burned money. In 2013 they had revenue of NOK 13 million and a loss of NOK 11 million. Last year the company appointed Øyvind Isaksen as its new CEO. He comes from the same position at the publicly listed transportation technology company Q-Free ASA. Isaksen took over from Christian Dupont, who is now in charge of sales and marketing. poLight was selected by Gartner for the “cool vendors 2014” list.

Industrifonden, one of Sweden’s largest and most experienced investors in growth companies, was the leading new shareholder participating in the placement. They will nominate one representative to the board of directors. Other investors were Investinor, Viking Venture, Alliance Venture, and the investment company TD Venture. All existing investors have participated in the equity issue. At the occasion the CEO said that poLight is on track for commercialization for its unique technology and is committed to the ambition of taking a leading role in the market for autofocus lenses used in mobile cameras. poLight works with several potential customers and has the potential to become a leader in a billion-dollar market.

poLight has a patented tunable optical lens with many performance benefits compared to today’s voice coil motor lens, and it scores far better in terms of instant focus and low power consumption. It enables the production of wafer-scale active optical components based on deformable polymers. The company offers some crucial advantages to the camera module market, thanks to its extremely small size while achieving high optical quality. These features, combined with its reflowable manufacturing capability, positions the lens as the ideal solution for the latest camera phone applications such as videos with continuous autofocus.

The company plans to start mainstream production of its autofocusing, wafer-level technology at the end of the year, as it bids to address a market expected to grow to a value of USD two billion by 2017. According to Isaksen, poLight has the possibility and ambition to become the leader in a billion dollar market fuelled by the expected technology shift in mobile cameras. In addition, the company has a roadmap of innovative optical actuator technologies having several applications to be explored at a later stage.

This article originally appeared in the March 13, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.