Edinburgh-based pureLiFi has raised £10 million to support the commercial roll-out of its ultrafast wireless technology into consumer markets such as mobile phones, tablets and other connected devices.

Chief executive Alistair Banham said the money from the Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) will allow pureLiFi to “continue in our journey to take our technology into all parts of the world”. The company’s optical chips, which use light rather than radio frequencies to transmit data, are currently under evaluation by a number of high-volume consumer product manufacturers.

“This money will help us to develop the next level of innovative technology which will then start to be deployed following the evaluation plans over the next two to three years,” Mr Banham said.

“We have made good inroads into the defence market because of the security of the LiFi technology. We are working our way towards the mass consumer market as we go forward, so we are following the traditional adoption curve, starting in defence and working our way towards consumer with the ultimate goal of getting into connected devices.”

LiFi – short for “light fidelity” – can transmit 1,000 times more data than the entire radio wave spectrum currently used to deliver wireless data, including Wi-Fi and 5G. LiFi is used as a complementary technology to Wi-Fi, offering greatly improved connectivity and performance.

HeraldScotland: PureLiFi wants to create a 'centre of excellence' in ScotlandPureLiFi wants to create a 'centre of excellence' in Scotland

Mr Banham noted that the number of connected devices in the average home has more than doubled in the past two years. Bandwidth gets split as more devices connect to home Wi-Fi networks, increasing interference and slowing response times.

Set up in 2012 as a spin-out from the University of Edinburgh, pureLiFi has now raised a total of approximately $40m (£33.6m) in external investment. Its last major funding round in November 2019 resulted in $18m raised from Singapore investment company Temasek and the Scottish Investment Bank.

Mr Banham said annual revenues are currently in the “millions of dollars” with customers in the defence and manufacturing sectors. The former includes a major deal with the United States Army Europe and Africa, which is using pureLiFi’s Kitefin units in tactical and strategic environments.

“We have had two multi-million contracts with the US Army Europe so that is on track,” he said. “We are shipping those products now and obviously we are working towards future contracts as we go forward.”

This latest investment is expected to create further jobs at pureLiFi, which currently employs about 40 people in Edinburgh.

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“As we deploy this new technology we will need to bring some skills into Scotland to help us with the next part of the journey,” Mr Banham said. “I can’t give you a number in terms of what that looks like, but yes, we will be employing more people in Scotland to support the development of this innovative technology.

“We would like to create a centre of excellence for LiFi where customers come to us in Scotland to get hold of this technology and work with us – that is very important. There is also a really good ecosystem around Scotland of photonics which is important to our evolution of the way we use light to transmit data, so I think it is very important that we build upon what we have got.”

Jimmy Williamson, executive director at the SNIB, said the bank was “excited” to provide pureLiFi with this latest round of growth capital.

“The bank’s investment will support pureLiFi as they look to scale up their operation, allowing them to take the innovative technology to the global market,” Mr Williamson said.

“By backing them the bank is also investing in highly-skilled research and development jobs in Scotland and endorsing pureLiFi’s vision to create a centre of excellence of LiFi.”

The SNIB is the development bank established by the Scottish Government in November 2020 with commitments of £2 billion of funding during its first 10 years in operation. Its remit is to invest in businesses and projects that help meet the government’s objectives of supporting Scotland’s transition to net zero, building communities and promoting equality, and harnessing innovation.