Dutch deeptech startup inPhocal raises €2M to ‘revolutionise’ laser processing

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Eindhoven-based inPhocal, a deeptech company that claims to use a “unique” laser beam technology to revolutionise laser processing, announced on Thursday, September 22, that it has raised €2M in a fresh round of funding.

The investment was led by venture capital fund DeepTechXL, along with TechInvest and Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (BOM).

Use of the funds

inPhocal says it will use the proceeds to increase production of its machines manufactured in Breda (Netherlands) and to install units in customer manufacturing lines worldwide.

Guus Frericks, managing partner at DeepTechXL, says, “DeepTechXL shares the vision of inPhocal to make an impact on the grand societal challenges of today by eliminating ink from the food & beverages industry. DeepTechXL will use its deeptech knowledge, expertise and network to support inPhocal in scaling up.”

Aims to revolutionise the field of laser processing

Founded in 2019 after completing the HighTechXL deeptech venture building programme, inPhocal laser technology turns a standard laser beam into a concentric beam with a central spot.

Longer focal depths and longer focal lengths are made feasible by the laser beam properties, allowing for faster print rates and wider print areas. InPhocal’s laser beam can mark on curved surfaces at rapid speed, including fresh food, cans, and bottles, which is something that existing laser beams cannot accomplish.

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Robert van Tankeren, CEO of inPhocal, says, “By using our innovative optical technology, we enable food producers and packagers to replace polluting ink technology with a sustainable alternative. Our technology is capable of making existing laser processes more efficient, and for applications that were previously not possible. For example, think of marking curved surfaces in production lines without loss of speed.”

According to inPhocal, laser technology hasn’t been able to compete with ink technology yet. In the bottling sector, inPhocal’s technology will take the place of ink jet stamping of expiry dates and QR codes, decreasing waste and saving customers’ time and money. The company is also creating laser branding technology for the produce industry. In contrast to ink jet marking, which can fade and result in significant food waste for farmers, laser marking directly on produce creates an irreversible imprint.

inPhocal says, “Our laser beam can also be focused down to smaller spot sizes than current technology. This results in higher precision for wafer dicing. This increases chip yield and can help solve our current global chip shortage problem.”

The investors

DeepTechXL launched a €75M DeepTechXL Fund I in 2022 with partners ASML, Philips, PME Pension Fund, Invest-NL, Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (BOM), research institute TNO and several family offices. The fund also obtained a €9M loan from the RVO of the Dutch government, which was designated for early-stage seed investments. The fund invests in promising Dutch deeptech startups and scale-ups and is based at High Tech Campus Eindhoven.

TechInvest is an investment vehicle established in 2022 with a focus on assisting startups. Their combined knowledge on high tech, setting up (international) consortia and broad market knowledge makes them a strategic sparring partner for startups.

The Brabant Development Agency (BOM) helps startups that are working towards critical technologies, healthy futures, climate-neutral energy, and sustainable food supplies, get the assistance and finance they need. It also helps them take off and develop into scale-ups as well as those companies that aspire to go global can actually do so. BOM collaborates with dozens of businesses each year to make this effect. The firm is an executive arm of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Province of Brabant.

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Vishal Singh

Vishal Singh is a News Reporter and Social Media Marketing Lead at Silicon Canals. He covers developments in the European startup ecosystem and oversees the publication's social media presence. Before joining Silicon Canals, Vishal gained experience at the Indian digital media outlet Inc42, contributing to its growth with insightful content. Despite being a college dropout, his passion for writing has driven his career in journalism.

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