March 21, 2017: Saphlux, a startup co-founded by Chen Chen ’16, recently received a $5 million infusion from companies eager to invest in its promising new LED technology.
The lead investor in this latest Saphlux funding round is Leyard (Hong Kong), a $4 billion company that specializes in outdoor LED display. Leyard invested $3.5 million. ZhenFund, Elm Street Ventures, and NXT followed with a combined $1.5 million in funding.
Saphlux produces innovative semi-polar emitter materials that enable next generation, high-efficiency, high-power, low-cost LEDs and lasers that will be compatible with most applications. Chen and Jung Han, professor of electrical engineering and chair of Yale’s Electrical Engineering Department, started Saphlux in 2014 after meeting through the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s Technology Commercialization Program. Chen is also an engineer.
“We see a lot of strategic value by working with Leyard, especially since they are the end user,” said Chen. “They can share a lot of feedback from the market, and they can create huge synergy since they have invested a lot in the high-power lighting and display applications in both the U.S and China.”
Chen said the new funding will help Saphlux, which is based in New Haven, set up its pilot manufacturing facility in Branford, so the company can scale up production. “We’re currently serving more than 10 leading LED companies in the world, and they’re eager to have our supply in larger volume,” Chen said. “Our new machines should be up and running by the end of May.”
Jennifer McFadden ’08, associate director of entrepreneurship and lecturer in the practice of entrepreneurship, has worked with Chen and Saphlux since the company’s launch. “The Saphlux story is a great representation of the future of entrepreneurship at Yale,” McFadden said, explaining that Chen leveraged technology from Yale labs and utilized a range of resources from across the university to accelerate the venture’s launch.
“The technology itself has the potential to radically reduce the efficiency of everything from LED lighting to lasers,” McFadden said. “It’s a great example of the types of ventures that we would like to see at Yale—those that benefit both business and society.”