3i led consortium provides seed funding for Light Blue Optics

31 Jul 2006

Light Blue Optics (www.lightblueoptics.com), developer of industry-leading miniature projection technology, today announced the closing of a US$2.5 million seed funding round. 3i plc, the FTSE 100 listed global venture capital firm, led the round, which also included investment from NESTA, the Cambridge Capital Group, and local business angels.

Founded in 2004, Light Blue Optics has developed a novel, patented laser projection technology, PVProTM, using laser light sources and diffractive techniques.

PVProTM offers a unique combination of features and benefits including compact size, focus free operation, low power consumption, robust design with no moving parts and simple low cost manufacture.

The market for miniature projectors capable of displaying large, high resolution video images is expected to explode in the next five years as mobile device manufacturers seek to overcome the limitations of current small screens and unleash the vast and growing quantity of rich multimedia content trapped inside.

Dr. Nic Lawrence, co-founder of the company, explained, "Light Blue Optics offers a unique and very elegant solution which meets the needs of a rapidly-growing market. PVPro has enormous potential in a wide range of business and consumer applications such as stand alone projectors, games consoles, mobile phones, media players and head up displays."

The seed funding will enable Light Blue Optics to accelerate its product development plans by expanding its internal engineering team and building relationships with its strategic customers and development partners.

"We are very excited to be backing Light Blue Optics.  The business has the features we look for in an early-stage start-up, including a talented and creative technical team, world-class technology, and large market opportunity," said Laurence Garrett, 3i Partner. "At 3i, we have always prided ourselves on investing in cutting-edge early-stage technology companies that have the potential to be the market leaders.  We look forward to working closely with the team as the company grows and develops."

3i has worked closely with Light Blue Optics during the course of the investment process, and as well as providing a source of funding, has helped to strengthen the company's management team. Dr. Chris Harris, formerly president of Plasmon Inc. in the USA, and currently acting as the 3i Entrepreneur-in-Residence, has been working closely with Light Blue Optics over the past few months and now joins the company as Interim CEO.

"I am delighted to be involved with Light Blue Optics at this important phase of the Company's growth and development," explained Dr Harris. "LBO has developed a truly unique projection technology that has the potential to deliver many of the features requested by our customers.  I look forward to helping the Company realise its potential by building a successful world-class business".

Notes to editors

bout 3i (www.3i.com)

3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital.  We focus on Buyouts, Growth Capital and Venture Capital and invest across Europe, in the United States and in Asia.  Our competitive advantage comes from our international network and the strength and breadth of our relationships in business.  These underpin the value that we deliver to our portfolio and to our shareholders.

3i's Venture Capital business focuses on investing in scaleable start-up and early-stage businesses. The business currently manages over 200 investments across Europe, US, Asia and Israel, valued in excess of ^1bn. 3i's VC investments fall into four main industry sectors, including healthcare, telecommunications, software and electronics/semiconductors.

3i's recent investments include TransMedics (organ transplant system), Sulake (gaming community), The Cloud (wifi), UDEX (RFID), TransTech (airfield monitoring) and DiBcom (mobile TV) with successful realisations for Interhyp, KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, Arakis, dtms, RedDot, UbiNetics, CSR, Element5, Bookham and many others.