Award Winner: Sicoya from Germany lowers energy consumption in big data centers

How often did you use the internet today? How much data was processed due to your usage? Honestly, most of us do not think a lot about data amounts while being online. But we all can imagine that it is huge. And growing. And yes, it takes a lot of energy to process it and to keep all the data centers around the world running.

Dr. Torsten Fiegler is responsible for the Business Development of Sicoya in Berlin. They developed an innovative chip, that integrates photonics and electronics. And that helps reducing the energy consumption of data centers.  Read more about the technical details in his interview!

Describe your product and its history! What is your unique value proposition and your business model?

Sicoya has over more than a decade developed a monolithically integrated silicon photonics technology platform that enables the integration of photonics and electronics on one chip without compromises. It was founded in January 2015 as a spin-off from TU Berlin. Our team consists of five founders and an experienced team of currently 28 employees. 

Sicoya’s unique disruptive innovations in silicon photonics will have a tremendous impact on the market for data center interconnects by means of low cost, low power consumption and scalability towards high production volumes. Our transceiver chips will be sold in a business-to-business relationship (B2B) to only a few big customers. This is following a demand driven “build to order” approach to customized chip designs.

What is your vision in regards to the future of the energy economy? And how does your product contribute to this future?

The hydrogen economy is not a vision anymore, it is getting a reality in zero emission mobility and energy storage. However, hydrogen storage today still needs very high pressures (up to 700 bar) or very low temperatures (-253°C), which imposes challenges on hydrogen distribution companies and hinders innovative hydrogen applications such as hydrogen mobility and energy storage.

The LOHC technology of Hydrogenious Technologies enables safe and easy hydrogen storage and transport at ambient conditions in existing fuel infrastructure. Thereby hydrogen enables additional use-case scenarios for hydrogen and a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure accelerating the roll-out of the hydrogen economy.

What are, in your opinion, the key challenges of the energy transition in general, and what are they specifically for your startup?

The energy transition will only succeed fast enough if the people support it and if they will not suffer from the changes. Therefore the task is to find better solutions and have tremendous changes in energy efficiency. Sicoya offer this disruptive change with silicon photonics and our packaging concept. After 10 years of development we are very excited to bring first products to the market. Our large library of Silicon Photonics building blocks together with our 3D packaging technology enables us to follow an aggressive launch schedule. In this matter we change the existing packaging fundamentally.

Where are you based, and who are the key innovation drivers in the energy ecosystem in your region?

Sicoya is embedded into Berlin´s photonic network. In Germany renewable energy is very important. Furthermore the improvements in a macro perspective are increasing each year. Therefore Sicoya benefits a lot from the ecosystem in Berlin and from the subsidies in the R&D phase of the TU Berlin. The key innovation driver is the idea of a disruptive manufacturing within the packaging of components. The only viable way to meet this critical cost target lies in the so-called monolithic cointegration of all high-speed electronic and photonic transceiver functionalities in one single silicon chip.

Which results for your startup do you expect from the Tech Festival by DENA in March 2017?

The network of people with ideas, technologies and money opens the gate for meaningful future cooperations. Each of these stakeholders have a different mindset and this combined leads to great opportunities.

Sicoya designs, packages and sells silicon photonics based application specific photonic integrated circuits (ASPICs) for low cost optical data center interconnects with superior performance. Sicoya’s advanced data center solutions are based on the co-integration of ultra-small optical modulators and detectors with electrical drivers and amplifiers into one single chip. The high level of integration leads to practical and cost efficient scaling roadmaps.

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