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Looking Towards The Future: A Recap of 2023

2023 was a great year for us at Archangel Lightworks! Here’s what happened: 

We closed £4 million of Seed capital in a round led by Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE), with participation from Silicon Roundabout Ventures. We opened a new lab facility in Oxford, tripled our team headcount and won multiple new projects, including an extension to our HALO project with ESA.  


Seed Funding Round Secured

In January, we secured our seed funding round. Receiving investment from Oxford Science Enterprises and Silicon Roundabout Ventures allowed us to expand the team and will enable a series of space-ground demonstrations of the TERRA-M, a miniature optical ground station that adds extra network capacity to deliver resilient and secure wireless connectivity where it is most needed. Read more about the raise here.  


Project Developments 


ESA HALO: In July, we received notice of the extension of our HALO project, which will allow us to run a space-to-ground test of our low SWaP-C, deployable Optical Ground Station (OGS). Preparation is well underway with the team conducting late-night outdoor testing to get ready for our demonstrations! 


ESA 5-G HUB: We won an ESA bid to prove the viability of Free Space Optical (FSO) backhaul for 5G networks. This will enable us to work collaboratively with the 5G Hub at Harwell team in order to validate network and interface requirements necessary to replace existing radio and/or fibre backhaul solutions with a free space optical link. We will take this information and perform a lab-based demonstration to prove the viability of creating the backhaul link in simulated real-world conditions. Finally, we will perform a test of a simulated free space optical backhaul link in the 5G Hub at Harwell.  

 

QLOGS: This year we progressed our collaborative project with SpeQtral, supported by Innovate UK and Enterprise Singapore, to add quantum key distribution capability to our deployable optical ground station. It was fantastic to visit the SpeQtral team in Singapore for a technical workshop. Read more about the project here



Upgraded Facilities 

In the autumn, the fit-out of our laser communications facility in Oxford was finalised. We took over Unit 2 & 3 of Oxbridge Court, which includes a custom laser laboratory. We were delighted to hold a grand opening ceremony for our facilities in December. Hosting partners and supporters in our new location was a great honour, and we were thrilled to be able to demonstrate some of our technology in action to our guests. 



In addition to our Oxford facilities, we also maintain a presence at Harwell Campus, where we are very happy to be part of the space cluster ecosystem, which includes many great space companies and is a hub of innovation in the UK. 



Growing and Celebrating Our Team 

In 2023, our team grew from 6 to 19. In February, we celebrated closing our seed funding round with the team by travelling to Singapore. This trip enabled us to advance work on the QLOGS project with our partner SpeQtral, to exhibit at the Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) as part of the UK Pavilion, and to explore and learn about the cutting-edge companies and facilities in Singapore as part of the UK in Singapore space mission. It was also a brilliant opportunity to celebrate with the team and try out local delicacies and activities!  




In summer, we were proud of Richard’s participation in the UK Space Agency’s first Space Investment Forum alongside our principal investor from OSE, Sam Harman. By June, our team had grown to 15. During our quarterly retreat, we took the team to SpaceComm Expo. 





We celebrated the opening of our new Oxford office with a team climbing session. It was amazing to see our teammates developing new skills and to uncover just how quiet some people had been keeping about their incredible rock-climbing talent!



The year ended with a bang. In Q4, we attended the UK Space conference in Belfast. Our Operations Lead, Lucy Roberts, CTO, Owain Pryce-Jones and CEO, Richard Johanson, made some great new connections and re-connected with some familiar faces. Our team had grown to 19, with more excitement and growth to come in 2024! 





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