Here at techSPARK, September is highlighting all things quantum, made possible by Quantum Technologies Innovation Centre (QTIC) sponsoring Quantum Month. To kick things off we caught up with a very exciting startup, Light Trace Photonics.

Founded in 2021 by Dr. Jake Biele and Dr. Dominic Sulway, the company specialises in Integrated Photonics. Now a team of 3, Light Trace has their heights set high for their future within Bristol’s pioneering quantum community. 

Jake fills us in on their journey so far and the outlook for whats to come from the team.

1 – In your own words – what do you do?

You may not be familiar with the term ‘photonics’ but photonic technologies—those which use light—enable much of modern-day life ranging from the supermarket checkout right through to emerging quantum technologies, such as quantum-secure chip & pin.

In photonics, we are only just scratching the surface of what’s possible, and Light Trace Photonics is all about helping the next generation of engineers and researchers develop new and exciting photonic technologies across advanced computing, sensing and communications.

2 – What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing?

At Light Trace Photonics, we are experts in photonic chips—microchips powered by light instead of electricity. This new type of chip is set to revolutionise many of the technologies we rely on day to day, and they hold great promise in tackling some of the big challenges we face as a society, such as climate change.

What’s exciting about the work we do at Light Trace is that we get to introduce young engineers and innovators to photonic chips, and the exciting possibilities they hold for next-generation technologies.

3 – What are you most proud of so far?

What I am most proud of so far is the role modeling work I have been able to do for other young innovators looking to start their own company. Light Trace Photonics has benefited from the guidance of other entrepreneurs further along than us and it’s a great feeling to be able to give back by helping others.

4 – What have you found most difficult about being a startup?

Coming from a technical background without any formal business training, I think what we struggled with most at the beginning was storytelling. Being able to convey your passion and vision for your product to any audience is a vital skill and it’s one that only comes with getting stuck in to find out what works and what doesn’t. 

5 – What would you do differently if you started now?

This is a difficult one simply because we have grown so much since we started but I think one thing I will take forward into any future ventures will be to remember to enjoy the journey a bit more, even in times of stress.

6 – Where do you think you’ll be in 12 months?

In 12 months, I see Light Trace Photonics being a company that is helping to inspire more and more young people from all backgrounds into a career in photonics. A dream of ours is to increase awareness of photonics as a technology that is as important to everyday life as electronics, and which is an equally exciting and opportunity-filled potential career path.

7 – What tools/people/services/organisations from the cluster have helped you most?

It’s impossible to give a shout out to everyone that has helped us but in an attempt to list as many as possible: Kimberly & Lauren from the amazing QTEC team have been really supportive and helpful, Mike Paton from QTIC & Engine Shed have helped us put down roots, Dr Joshua Silverstone, CEO & founder of Qontrol Systems, has been a really supportive mentor, Dr Lia Li, CEO & founder of Zero Point Motion, has always had her door open to Light Trace Photonics and Dr Jon Pugh, University of Bristol has also been massively supportive and we love working with him!

8 – What’s the best thing about the Bristol & Bath tech cluster?

The South West is a great place to launch a tech startup and in Bristol, we have benefited from the large network of entrepreneurs and supporting organisations that are all so happy to help us on our journey. Our network is very important to us and, in my opinion, Bristol & Bath are great places to build community.

9 – Who will you be nominating for a SPARKie next year?

I’d like to nominate Dr Lia Li, founder of Zero Point Motion, for the Best Founder award. Having seen how much work and commitment it takes to build a startup as part of a co-founding team, I take my hat off to Lia for going it alone and for creating such a strong sense of community at Zero Point Motion.

10 – Where can we find out more about you?

You can find out more about Light Trace Photonics on our new website here. Keep up to date with our latest news by following us on LinkedIn.