Zero Point Motion, a Bristol-based fabless silicon chip company, is set to change the way we sense motion by using photonics. The £2.58 million seed round is led by Foresight-Williams Technology together with Verve Ventures and u blox (SIX:UBXN), a global technology leader in positioning and wireless communication and services. Investment will go towards a state-of-the-art lab in Bristol and a major recruitment drive to accelerate R&D of their photonic inertial sensor chips.
Zero Point Motion uses optical sensing techniques from the research area known as ‘cavity optomechanics’ that has already revolutionized gravitational wave detection and quantum research. By integrating these techniques into the chip architecture of sensors within smartphones, cars, and game controllers, Zero Point Motion enables over 100x improved sensitivity and performance that will reduce positioning error, enable longer duration of tracking without global navigation satellite systems and increase stability in hand-held or head mounted devices.
With over a decade of academic research experience in cavity optomechanics, combined with inertial sensor expertise from the defence industry, Founder and CEO Dr Ying Lia Li (Lia) sees cavity optomechanics as a natural evolution for the $15Bn inertial sensing market. Li commented: “With proven capability to detect motion smaller than the size of a single electron, cavity optomechanical sensing has already had extraordinary benefits for fundamental physics research. Now, we are harnessing this power to improve the inertial sensing devices we’ve come to rely on, bringing untold new potential to drones, VR/AR, indoor navigation and imaging stabilization.”
Incorporated in 2020, Zero Point Motion won a UCLQ Quantum Science and Technology Institute InQuBATE grant and gained pre-seed investment from u-blox to file patents and develop their commercial roadmap. Gordon Aspin who previously co-founded chipset and software companies TTP Communications plc and Cognovo Ltd joined the founding team in 2021 as company Chairman.
Although this type of technology has never been commercialized before, the team’s vision is to bring together expertise in photonic integrated circuits (PICs), micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) engineering and application specific integrated circuits (ASICs). Their strategy is simplicity: as few changes to the existing PIC, MEMS, and ASIC supply chains as possible. With their headquarters in Bristol, which has a rich history in engineering and physics, they are seeking to entice ambitious and visionary engineers to join the company and to work as part of the team developing their first commercial products.
The £2.58 million investment comes from a powerful syndicate of investors experienced in hardware and deep-tech ventures with Chris Wiles of Foresight-Williams Technology and Dr Tony Milbourn of u-blox joining the Board. This round of funding represents a strong vote of confidence in the company at a time when the UK is working to establish itself as a key player in the semiconductor space.
About Zero Point Motion
At Zero Point Motion we are using low noise photonics to redefine the limits of high precision inertial sensing. With over 100x improved sensitivity, our chipscale silicon sensors are paving the way for AR/VR, indoor positioning and autonomous navigation. Founded in 2020 by an award-winning physicist & inventor, backed by deep tech investors, and located in the vibrant city of Bristol.
Foresight Williams Technology (“FWT”)
Foresight and Williams Advanced Engineering started their investment collaboration in 2016 with the launch of the Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund. 2019 saw the launch of a sister fund, the Foresight Williams Technology VCT share class, which sits within the Foresight Solar & Technology VCT plc. These two funds target investment in companies developing innovative and transformational technologies and where we believe Foresight’s and Williams’ expertise and services can be harnessed to assist with the development of the businesses, with the objective of achieving successful exits at high-value multiples.
Verve Ventures is a network and technology-driven venture capital firm based in Switzerland. Founded in 2010 by Steffen Wagner and Lukas Weber, Verve Ventures has grown to more than 45 team members and has become one of the most active venture investors in Europe with over 140 science and technology-driven startups in its portfolio. A dozen investment professionals identify the most promising digital, tangible and health & bio startups. Selected private and institutional investors get access to investment opportunities through a digital platform. The company invests EUR 0.5 million to several million from Seed Stage onward in startups across Europe. Verve Ventures’ dedicated team helps startups with their most pressing needs such as hiring, client introductions and an expert network of high-profile individuals. To join Verve Ventures’ growing pan-European community of entrepreneurs and investors, visit www.verve.vc
u blox (SIX:UBXN) is a global technology leader in positioning and wireless communication in automotive, industrial, and consumer markets. Their smart and reliable solutions, services and products let people, vehicles, and machines determine their precise position and communicate wirelessly over cellular and short range networks. With a broad portfolio of chips, modules, and secure data services and connectivity, u blox is uniquely positioned to empower its customers to develop innovative and reliable solutions for the Internet of Things, quickly and cost effectively. With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, the company is globally present with offices in Europe, Asia, and the USA.