Cailabs is a French deep-tech company, world leader in light shape. Cailabs designs, manufactures and sells innovative photonic solutions for local networks, open space transmissions and industrial lasers. First incubated for a year in a laboratory in Paris, Jean-François Morizur chose Rennes to set up his company, the city where all the criteria sought are combined: fast connection to Paris by TGV, good eco-system of start-ups, dynamic city centre and above all an excellent reputation and a rich environment of the telecoms sector. Since 2013, Cailabs, which has benefited from several fund raisers totalling €16.6M, has experienced strong development thanks to its unique breakthrough technology that has already attracted major players in industry.
In 2010, during his PhD thesis presented jointly at Kastler Brossel Laboratory and the Australian National University, Jean-François Morizur and his thesis directors discovered a major innovation: the Multi-Plan Light Conversion (MPLC). But it was not until 2013 that Cailabs was founded, to apply MPLC innovation for telecommunications, at the request of Alcatel-Lucent. From the very beginning, Cailabs has therefore been involved in the world of telecoms by developing a unique technology that manages the shape of light in a fibre optic to increase its performance. These developments led to fibre flow records in 2015 and 2017 with the Japanese operator KDDI (2 and 10 Bpps respectively), and are the subject of 19 patents.
The company has developed a wide range of solutions from this technological core. Aroona improves local networks (LAN) especially in factories, military bases, ski resorts and universities. Aroona significantly increases the bandwidth of existing fibres, without intervention in infrastructures, which requires an investment up to ten times less than that for conventional rewiring while increasing flow rate performances by one to 400 times. The Canunda solution is intended for the industrial laser shaping to improve laser machining processes (cutting, welding, 3D printing). Tilba opens up the market for land-satellite communications, which makes long-range laser communications possible despite atmospheric turbulence.
A winning partnership strategy
Since 2016, Cailabs has entered into cooperation agreements with Safran (aeronautics), Amplitude Laser Group (industry), Tellabs (telecoms) and many other partners, in order to develop the solutions that best meet the needs of the market.
In 2018, for example, the Breton SME signed an agreement with Safran Electrical & Power (Toulouse), the world leader in aeronautical electrical systems. Cailabs and Safran Electrical & Power aim to transfer the Cailabs disruptive technology to aeronautics to increase data capacity on board aircraft tenfold, while reducing wiring costs and complexity.
Last September, Cailabs announced a partnership with the Maupertuis Institute (Bruz) to improve the quality and performance of high-power laser processes in the aeronautics, naval and automotive sectors. The two entities thus propose jointly to the industrialists to carry out preliminary process tests highlighting the contributions of the shaping for a given process.
Known worldwide for its expertise, the company is being asked to tackle new challenges related to the shaping of light, from transoceanic fibres to defence and cybersecurity. For example, the Sifom project, supported by the DGA (Directorate General of Armaments) and developed in partnership with another Breton company, has developed a solution to protect confidential data in fibre optics and detect any intrusion attempts.
Fund raisers for remarkable growth
Since its creation in 2013, Cailabs has raised funds for a total amount of €16.6M: €2.6M obtained at an initial round in 2013, followed by a second round of €1M in 2016 and then €5M in 2017. In October, the company raised €8M from Supernova Invest, the leader in deep-tech investment in France, through its Crédit Agricole Innovation et Territoire fund.
Definvest, Ministry of Armed Forces fund managed by Bpifrance, whose mission is to support SME that are strategic for defence, participated in this round. The Ministry is thus showing its interest in Cailabs technologies “with their many, very promising military applications” according to Florence Parly, Minister for Armed Forces, and opens the doors to the defence market. Having taken up Cailabs capital in 2017, Safran Corporate Ventures is also involved in this new round, like Innovacom and Starquest Capital, long-standing investors in the Rennes company.
This operation will enable Cailabs to structure its industrial development and continue its partnership strategy and commercial deployment, notably for export, in the United States, but also in Japan, South Korea and China. Already, 80% of the Cailabs business goes to export. To support its growth, Cailabs has doubled its workforce in 2018 and is continually strengthening its current team of 44 employees.