Student Chapter Seminar

30 Years of Photonic Start‐ups in Academia and Industry

Dr. Simon Poole

Finisar, Australia

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 / 2:00-3:00pm@CREOL214


Every company - even the largest household names such as Google or Apple or even IBM begins life as a startup. Drawing on experience gained from Dr. Poole’s extensive start-up history, this presentation will look at how some of the companies and research groups in which Dr. Poole has been involved got started, what they did and how they subsequently developed and thrived. The presentation aims to inspire researchers who are considering how to commercialize their research to take the next steps and move out of the research lab and into the brave new world of commercialization.  Dr. Simon Poole is an engineer/entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience in photonics in research, academia and industry. He has been involved in numerous successful startups in both Academia and industry and is renowned for both his contribution to the technology of photonics as well as the companies he has founded.



Dr. Simon Poole is an engineer/entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience in photonics in research, academia and industry.  He obtained his PhD from Southampton University in 1987 and was a member of the team that invented the Erbium-Doped Fiber Amplifier (EDFA) in 1985.  In 1988-1995 he founded Australian Photonics Cooperative Research Centre (APCRC) at the University of Sydney. In 1995 Dr.Poole led the first spin-off company Indx Pty Ltd which manufactured Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) for optical communications. Indx was acquired by Uniphase Corporation (now JDS Uniphase) for $US6m and subsequently grew to over 300 people with exports of over $100m pa. In 2001, Dr. Poole raised $13m in VC funding for Engana. The company, now Finisar Australia, employs 280 people in Sydney and a similar number in China, with annual sales of Wavelength Selective Switches of >$100m pa.   In 2008 Dr. Poole started a new group within Finisar, the first business within this group was the highly successful WaveShaper range of Programmable Optical Processors which already has sales of over $6m pa.


Dr.Poole is a Fellow of the IEEE in 2001 and is also a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers Australia (FIEAust), a Senior Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (SMIET) and a Chartered Engineer (CEng). He has published over 150 refereed papers in journals and international conferences as well as filing 7 patents, including the initial patent on the EDFA. 


For more information:

IEEE Photonics Society Student Chapter Chair: Zhenyue Luo

IEEE Photonics Society Student Chapter Advisor:Prof. S.T. Wu