CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, ILLINOIS — October 26, 2000 — Champaign-Urbana-based EpiWorks has secured an additional $1 million investment in its series “C” convertible preferred stock from Open Prairie Ventures I, L.P. This follows an earlier investment of $1.5 million by Open Prairie Ventures in March 2000, which is helping the company expand locally into a new corporate headquarters and production facility. Additionally, the company is in the process of hiring a high-tech workforce and expects to add a dozen new jobs by the end of this year.
“EpiWorks was the first of many high-technology investments we are making in the Midwest,” said Dr. Andrew Jones, a managing member of Open Prairie Ventures. “During our original funding discussions, we realized that EpiWorks has tremendous potential in the semiconductor materials market, and we are pleased to participate in the transfer of this technology from the university laboratory to the marketplace.”
“We are very happy to have a local venture capital group that can add value to our management team,” stated Dr. Quesnell Hartmann, EpiWorks’ vice president of engineering. “We’ve had a good partnership with Open Prairie Ventures, and we appreciate the faith that they’ve shown in our growing company.”
Founded in 1997, EpiWorks, Inc. develops and manufactures compound semiconductor materials such as gallium arsenide (GaAs) and indium phosphide (InP) for application in high-speed communication systems. The company’s products provide these high-speed systems with additional performance, such as greater bandwidth, higher linearity, less distortion, and greater power-efficiency.
While students at the University of Illinois, Dr. Quesnell Hartmann and Dr. David Ahmari founded EpiWorks, along with their advisor, the late Professor Gregory E. Stillman.
“The overriding reason for us to stay in the Champaign-Urbana community is to continue our relationship with the University and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,” Hartmann added. “Not only has the University relationship been valuable, but the other local relationships we have developed within the community — local banks, employee resources, developers, and others — have exceeded our expectations.”
EpiWorks’ current products provide communications applications, such as wireless cell phones, with up to 10 times better performance criteria such as speed, battery life, range, and reliability. Other customers use the wafers to make optical detectors and emitters for use in fiberoptic communication systems.
EpiWorks, Inc., is in the process of establishing production facilities, systems, and test equipment in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. The company is currently selling multiple proprietary products to several communications companies. These products are being used by EpiWorks, Inc. customers for applications such as DWDM (dense wave division multiplexing), fiber optics, and cellular phone applications.
Open Prairie Ventures I, L.P. is a $40 million venture capital fund headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, that invests in early-stage new technologies. Dr. Andrew S. Jones, Mr. James Michael Schultz, and Mr. Dennis D. Spice are managing members of the firm.