Dr. Robert Molenaar, Contributing Editor
NOZAY, France – Benefiting from what is considered one of the most research-friendly tax climates in Europe, telecom photonics components manufacturer 3S Photonics SA, once a spinoff of a French research laboratory, is expanding. Its success in the early ’90s drew the attention of telecom giant Alcatel, resulting in acquisition. Listed on the stock exchange in 2000 as Alcatel Optronics, the firm, along with the fast expansion of the Internet, enjoyed an exceptional growth. When the bubble burst at the end of 2001, reality returned, and Alcatel sold its Optronics division to Avanex, a California company. Then in 2007, Alexandre Krivine, a French high-tech entrepreneur, and Didier Sauvage, previously site manager of Avanex France, acquired the business and renamed it 3S Photonics.
Alexandre Krivine, Yannick Bailly and Didier Sauvage outside 3S Photonics headquarters.
With advanced wafer fabrication and state-of-the-art cleanroom facilities, the company has positioned itself amongst prime manufacturers in the world of GaAs and InP lasers and detectors designed for telecom use. With annual sales of €28 million and 160 employees, 3S Photonics specializes in semiconductor manufacturing, assembly processes and reliability testing. Over the years, it has built up expertise in submarine components such as filters, gain equalizers and pump stabilizers based on fibre Bragg grating technology.
After the acquisition, the new management team saw expansion possibilities into the medical, industrial, space and defence markets. Its existing telecom components, such as 980- and 1064-nm laser chips, lend themselves very well to this, easily matching any market-specific requirements.
According to Yannick Bailly, vice president of marketing, entering the new markets has resulted in 15 per cent sales growth and a convincing return to profitability in the first year after becoming independent from Avanex. Looking ahead, the company is developing several new product lines, including seed laser modules for industrial fibre lasers, and it is planning participation in innovative research and development projects in France and elsewhere in Europe.
“We want to carry on this way and are expecting an approximately 20 per cent increase in turnover over the next fiscal year, driven by the renewal of the product portfolio. In the medium term, we plan to double our annual revenues,” said Alexandre Krivine, now chairman and CEO of 3S Photonics.