14 Jun 2024

Photonics-powered ‘sustainable data centre’

Astrape Networks founders-Nicola Calabretta, Willem Jan Withagen & Francesco Pessolano

Astrape Networks – an innovative tech startup which uses integrated photonics to build faster and more sustainable optical networks – has announced it has secured a pre-seed funding round of €1.6 million from a consortium of investors and loan providers, including Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (BOM), Rabobank, Brabant Startup Fonds, TTT Smart Industries, Shift Invest and PhotonDelta.

Astrape says the investment means that it can begin to develop the technology needed to drive the data centres and optical networks of the future, specifically the use of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) to build faster, cooler and more energy efficient data centres.

The company says there is a global need for data centres to keep pace with ever-increasing consumer demand for data – more than 5 billion Internet users in 2023 – but cost and energy efficiency stand in the way. Existing data networks convert electronic signals into optical signals and back again, multiple times. Switching between electrical and optical signals consumes large amounts of energy.

The company says it aims to eliminate multiple electrical-optical conversions by only converting to optical at the network edge. At current network speeds, that would generate an estimated energy savings of 20%. Based on anticipated future speeds, that could rise to around 60%.

Astrape Networks CEO, Francesco Pessolano, said, “With the first investment, we will be able to demonstrate the technology in a relevant environment, taking it from laboratory scale to engineering scale. This will show that the technology is viable and keeps its performance and power saving promises in an industrial setting.

“The investment is key for building a strong core engineering team in networking and photonics that will enable us to develop further towards our first product.”

The result of years of research and development at the Eindhoven University of Technology, Astrape was launched through a venture building program by HighTechXL – Europe’s premier deep tech venture builder and PhotonDelta – the growth accelerator for the photonic chip industry, based in the Netherlands, with support from The Gate – a launchpad for tech startups in Brainport Eindhoven.

Laurens Weers, Chief Financial Officer at PhotonDelta commented: “This investment is an important endorsement for the photonics venture building program set up by HighTechXL and PhotonDelta.

“The joint program enables startups working with integrated photonics – such as Astrape Networks – to get off the ground, create new use-cases for the technology and strengthen the Netherlands’ position as a world leader in integrated photonics.”

 

 

Company info: Astrape Networks