Let There Be Light | Why We Invested in Prisma Photonics
The world runs on critical infrastructure. Pipelines and power transmission lines – whether overground or subsea – are the arteries that pump life through the modern economy. Huge sums of capital are invested every year into planning, designing, and building these assets. But once ready for prime time, they turn into somewhat of a black box.
Today, it is extremely challenging to know whether something is happening to critical assets themselves or in their vicinity – let alone specifically what may be happening. And it is within this haze that human lives are placed in unwarranted danger, ecological disasters take place (remember the deadly 2018 wildfire in California?), and infrastructure operators go bankrupt.
In response to such a reality, global utility providers like E.ON are constantly searching for new technologies that can boost the monitoring and predictive maintenance capabilities of their long-range infrastructure. A key part of this endeavor is building the capacity to correctly detect and identify common events such as network failures, leakages, and vandalism, amongst others. In other words, such players are looking for that priceless solution that can “switch the light on” around their invaluable assets and allow them to keep a close eye.
Enter Prisma Photonics
Prisma Photonics has developed a disruptive, fiber-optic sensing technology that enables 24/7 monitoring of long-range critical infrastructure at scale. The set-up is simple – optical interrogator units are connected to pre-existing fiber optic cables that have been deployed along the length of existing assets. Pulses of light are transmitted and their infinitesimal reflection is captured and processed on the spot, covering strips of up to 100km. Prisma’s engineers have achieved ultra-sensitive detection capabilities through patented methods that amplify these pulses within the cables and greatly improve measurement accuracy. In tandem, they have built advanced machine learning-based event classification algorithms trained by massive amounts of field data, capable of generating extremely detailed pictures of events occurring in the vicinity of critical infrastructure sites in real-time.
This combination has resulted in a game-changing solution that carries near-zero false and nuisance alarm rates, can be scaled seamlessly through a “pay-as-you-grow” approach, and is ~100x more sensitive and accurate than competing market solutions. Prior to it, infrastructure operators had to either rely on expensive external physical sensors, drones, or field inspection teams. Prisma Photonics has turned this model upside down – each interrogator unit is the long-awaited “light switch” with which operators can gain a 20/20 vision of their assets.
Although, as you can probably guess by now, we are extremely excited about the deep technology Prisma has developed and refined, there are two additional elements that ultimately encouraged us to partner up with the company.
Seasoned leadership and impeccable execution to-date
Eran Inbar – CEO and Co-Founder at Prisma Photonics – is one of those rare breeds of humble entrepreneurs who under-promise and over-achieve. Drawing from years of hands-on experience in top IDF intelligence units and as the CEO of V-Gen, Eran has built a strong and highly-balanced leadership team both on the technological and business fronts. In spite of catering to a notoriously challenging market, Prisma Photonics is succeeding in teaming up with an impressive lineup of tier-1 global utilities and market-leading integrators across many verticals and use-cases. Having grown 3x in 2021, we believe the company is set to significantly exceed benchmark expectations of growth at scale.
Boundless – and largely untapped – market opportunities
If there ever was a technology that encapsulated the polar opposite of the common saying “a solution in search of a problem”, Prisma Photonics’ innovative sensing technology is it. The potential value across all of its directly addressable markets is exceptionally large – $150B+ by some counts. Although the company is currently focused on three major use-cases – pipelines, power transmission lines and perimeter control – the same underlying set-up can be used for a wide variety of verticals covering safety, security, preventive, and predictive maintenance (e.g., roads, railways, etc.). Furthermore, we anticipate several forward-looking utility providers will perceive Prisma Photonics’ broader strategic value as they build the foundations for success in a new digital, data-driven world.
A bright future ahead
All in all, Prisma Photonics has reached a point where most considerable go-to-market-related risks have been cleared, and the progress made since inception now serves as a significant competitive moat. The sky is the limit for Eran and his team – market opportunities are only expanding, active demand for their cutting-edge technology is growing exponentially, and the underlying algorithms are improving every extra data byte they process. At Future Energy Ventures, we could not be more excited to leverage our team’s industry expertise and global partner network to support Prisma Photonics on what promises to be a riveting path towards becoming a global category leader.
Author: Aaron Israel, Investment Analyst at FEV