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9 June 2014

QinetiQ acquires Redfern Integrated Optics

UK-based aerospace, defense and security technology provider QinetiQ Group plc has acquired Redfern Integrated Optics Inc (RIO) of Santa Clara, CA, USA.

Founded in 2000 in Australia before moving to San Francisco, CA, USA in 2003, RIO is a supplier of low-noise single-frequency (1550nm) narrow-linewidth laser optical transmitters (based on its proprietary PLANEX planar external-cavity-laser technology) for fiber-optic and remote sensing. Specifically, the firm has more than ten years’ experience of delivering products to the fiber geophone, LiDAR (light detection and ranging) and distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) markets. Backed by a consortium of venture capital funds led by Southern Cross Ventures and Jolimont Capital, RIO is said to be the first company to develop a commercially viable semiconductor laser with sufficient stability for DAS applications. The firm’s products provide what is claimed to be unique performance and reliability, enabling them to serve in harsh environments for both terrestrial and marine oil & gas, wind LiDAR, security, and space applications. Annual revenue in 2013 was $5m.

QinetiQ says that the acquisition accelerates the development of its subsidiary OptaSense, whose platform technology converts any standard fiber-optic cable into a distributed acoustic (or seismic) sensor by using laser interrogation to measure minute strains. Applications include oil & gas, defense & security, transport and utilities. Specifically, in infrastructure security, the technology is already in use to monitor 13,000kms of assets, principally providing leak detection and third-party intrusion detection for oil & gas pipelines. The RIO acquisition provides the OptaSense business with secure access to the engineering team developing current and future generations of highly coherent, low-noise semiconductor lasers.

“This acquisition of RIO is an important step in ensuring that OptaSense realizes its full potential as the global leader in distributed acoustic sensing,” says QinetiQ’s CEO Leo Quinn. “We are committed to supporting the high-growth businesses in our portfolio, accelerating their development as appropriate with acquisitions and partnerships. This acquisition has natural synergies with OptaSense and secures its access to a key supplier in the market,” he adds.

“We have been working with RIO for many years and are impressed with the technical capabilities of the team,” comments OptaSense’s managing director Magnus McEwen-King. “Their products are ideally suited to the distributed fiber sensing market, especially within the oil & gas sector where high performance and high reliability in harsh environments are essential. We see demand for RIO’s laser products continuing to grow across the whole fiber sensing market... Through this acquisition we also gain the ability to shape the future developments of their products to further improve the technical performance of our DAS offerings, especially in the seismic monitoring market,” he adds.

“OptaSense has made an excellent strategic acquisition and will greatly enhance RIO’s ability to scale their unique technology across a broader range of markets and customers than would normally be accessible to a small start-up,” believes Dr Larry Marshall, chairman of RIO and managing director of Southern Cross Ventures. “Our team and investors are pleased that RIO secured such an exceptional partner who will support our customers.”

RIO will be integrated with OptaSense but will continue to use the RIO brand name. The transaction is expected to complete within the first half of QinetiQ’s financial year and is subject to normal regulatory approvals.

Visit: www.rio-inc.com

Visit: www.optasense.com

Visit: www.qinetiq.com

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