UGent and imec launch fiber optic sensing spin-off Sentea

Silicon photonics based fiber optic sensing allows for highly accurate, small, robust and cost-efficient structural health monitoring and process control

Ghent University (UGent) and imec today announced the incorporation of Sentea, a spin-off from their world leading Photonics Research Group. An initial 1.6 million Euro in funding was raised from Fidimec, Finindus, PMV and QBIC II and the founders. Sentea will develop and market advanced silicon photonics based fiber optic sensing solutions. These will be used to continuously monitor engineering structures for signs of damages that over time could lead to catastrophic failure, as well as to control industrial installations to maximize their efficiency.

According to the new market research report from MarketsandMarkets, the structural health monitoring market is estimated to grow from USD 1.48 billion in 2018 to USD 3.38 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 17.93% between 2018 and 2023. The major factors driving the growth of the structural health monitoring market include concerns about catastrophic failure due to aging infrastructures in the developed countries, stringent government regulations pertaining to the sustainability of structures, and the superior benefits of structural health monitoring. Furthermore, the structural Health Monitoring Market for the Energy vertical is expected to grow at a rate of more than 20% from 2018-2023, owing to various applications such as wind turbines, nuclear power plants and hydropower plants.
“Integrating all optical functions into a single silicon photonics component will allow us to make highly accurate, small and robust fiber optic sensor interrogators. Silicon photonics is also very cost-effective, which makes fiber optic sensing affordable for a wide range of new markets and applications and facilitates universal and continues monitoring of structures”, commented Karsten Verhaegen, CEO of Sentea. “Key potential customers have expressed great interest in Sentea’s solutions, stating that better infrastructure lifetime management and process control makes them more competitive in their respective markets.”

“Sentea builds on state-of-the-art silicon photonics technology IP that has been developed at the Photonics Research Group of imec and the UGent for the past 20 years, a technology in which both organizations are perceived as world-leading,” stated Luc Van den hove, president and Chief Executive Officer at imec. “This firm technology base will provide Sentea a kick-start to develop its sensor technology that is answering an existing need in a broad range of market segments.”

To develop its first products and bring them to market, the company raised 1.6 million Euro in funding from a consortium of investors including Fidimec, Finindus, PMV and QBIC II.

Image: Sentea’s management team from left to right: Thijs Spuesens (CTO), Karsten Verhaegen (CEO), Ronny Bockstaele (COO)

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