Fiber Optic Sensing – QinetiQ had an imperative to spin out home grown technologies into new businesses. The New Business Accelerator (NBA) identified a highly disruptive fiber optic sensing technology that had wide ranging application in border security, oil pipeline monitoring and oil exploration. The investment governance board gave approval of £100k to validate the market place. The NBA established a separate focused team, based around the CTO and Interim CEO.
In the middle of market validation process a rival startup appeared that had a 100x factor better technology solution. Our team entered into a strategic alliance with the start up, combining the strengths of both companies.
First sales appeared within 12 months, sufficient to prove market approach and further funding.
Financial pressures demanded that we explore a number of alternative exploitation routes including strategic alliances and mergers with companies such as Corning Glass, Schlumberger – who were well positioned in key markets to adopt our technology.
Continued strong sales, relieved cash flow demands convincing senior management to go it alone.
Optasense now operates a standalone autonomous business at arms length from QinetiQ, with worldwide presence, office in 7 countries, workforce of 300+ and revenues of £100+m.
The NBA created a sister company Stingray that also leveraged fiber optic sensing technology. Stingray was spun out with investment from two corporates (Chevron and Statoil), and was acquired for $85m in 2011. Stephen Lake acted as a board member through to exit.
Former Investment Director QinetiQ
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