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Skorpios’ technology breakthrough could slash networking costs

Skorpios engineering manager Elton Marchena, left, and research and development manager Tim Creazzo test chips. (kevin robinson-avila/journal)
Skorpios engineering manager Elton Marchena, left, and research and development manager Tim Creazzo test chips. (kevin robinson-avila/journal)
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An Albuquerque startup may hold a key to making global expansion of fiber-optic infrastructure more affordable.

Skorpios Technologies Inc. has developed a way to merge silicon with traditional materials used in optical communications, a fundamental breakthrough that many industry giants have failed to achieve.

Using silicon in optics networking equipment could radically reduce production costs. It is much less expensive and easier to manipulate for high-volume manufacturing than gallium arsenide or indium phosphide, which are commonly used in the industry today.

Incorporating silicon into fiber optics could pave the way for faster and less-expensive deployment of the infrastructure needed to manage today’s world of streaming video and instant communications.

“They have truly breakthrough technology,” said Lee Rand of Sun Mountain Capital, an investor in the company. “You don’t often see a radical innovation like that with such major, practical implications for an entire industry.”

The company has attracted $23 million in venture capital since launching in July 2009, including hefty investments from Nokia Siemens Networks, Deutsche Telekom of Germany and Sweden’s Ericcson.

“The caliber of strategic investment partners now in the company reflects the truly disruptive nature of Skorpios’ technology,” said David Blivin, managing partner at Cottonwood Technology Fund, another investor.

Skorpios is now ramping up operations, said President and CEO Stephen Krasulick.

The company grew its workforce frozm 19 last year to 30 now. It will climb to about 50 next year.

“We’re aggressively ramping up, especially in research and development,” Krasulick said.

Skorpios expanded its facility in the Northeast Heights from 7,000 to 10,000 square feet this year. It will add another 2,000 square feet in January, and it’s remodeling its research-and-development lab from 400 to 2,200 square feet.

The company is now preparing to move from R&D to commercial operations.

“In the last few months, we’ve successfully demonstrated that our technology is compatible with standard commercial composite, metal and semiconductor manufacturing, which is key to our path to market,” Krasulick said. “The most recent devices we’ve manufactured were made in a standard commercial lab. We’re targeting 2013 for shipment of our first products.”

Skorpios’ success is attracting more investors. “We’ve had significant interest from several new venture capital firms and strategic partners,” Krasulick said. “They’re looking at another potential round of funding.”
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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