France’s Atomic Energy Agency exits Ulis

06 May 2008 | News


France’s Atomic Energy Authority (CEA) has realised the value in key patents relating to amorphous silicon, selling its 15 per cent stake in Ulis, a company set up to commercialise the technology, to General Electric Company (GE) of the US.

Ulis specialises in making uncooled infrared detectors mainly for commercial applications. It was set up by Sofradir, a developer and manufacturer of advanced cooled infrared detectors for military and space applications.

In the deal, GE obtains 15 per cent of Ulis, replacing minority shareholder CEA Valorisation, the equity investment arm of the French Atomic Energy Agency. CEA Valorisation's exit was in accordance with a 2002 lock in agreement to allow an exit after a five year period. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Sofradir remains the principal shareholder with 85 percent.

“We're delighted to have GE join us as we enter a new phase at Ulis,” said Philippe Bensussan, Chairman and CEO at Sofradir and Chairman at Ulis. “Ulis has successfully turned its amorphous silicon technology into marketable products for commercial infrared equipment.” He added, “The CEA brought key technology assets in the form of patents and tight cooperation for continuous improvements of the technology.”

“Ulis took full advantage of this technology, which is fully compatible with silicon processes, and now markets detectors which outperform competing technologies. The company is poised for further growth into professional and mass markets and GE’s portfolio of activities including medical and sensor applications will help open new doors and opportunities,” said Bensussan.

Applications for Ulis’ uncooled long-wave infrared imagers include building inspection, fire-fighting equipment, night vision enhancements for drivers of vehicles, and industrial maintenance and surveillance.

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