Behind the scenes of the m-u-t AG deal, promising an even brighter photonics future
On 3rd of May 2018, German technology company m-u-t AG acquired 75% of Spectral Engines’ shares, thus becoming the main shareholder of Spectral Engines. m-u-t was originally founded in 1995 and has over 20 years expertise on technological innovations in the market areas of green tech, clean tech and life science. The m-u-t group focuses on optical, destruction-free measurement solutions from the component all the way up to the system and applications.
Based in Wedel, Germany, the company has a strong footing in both European and global technology markets. With a strong strategic vision of the future and a product portfolio combining the innovations of six high-tech companies, Spectral Engines couldn’t have ended up in better company. Spectral Engines’ operational management will stay in Finland in the future and continue to work towards growing the brand and their business world-wide with some help from m-u-t’s global relations and wide network.
Even though the acquisition might have come as a surprise for some, it fits perfectly in the company’s current growth path and means huge positive changes to Spectral Engines.
“From a strategic point of view, this deal couldn’t have come for a better time for us. It goes extremely well with our timeline and business model, and this is the kick in the right direction in terms of growth and global market entries we’ve always had in mind. m-u-t has grown massively during the last few years and is expected to grow even more quite fast. This provides us an unforeseen range of possibilities in many new market areas, where we necessarily could not have had an access before as a smaller and relatively new company”, muses Jarkko Antila, CEO, Spectral Engines.
From the right: Robert Tietz (m-u-t AG), Janne Suhonen (Spectral Engines), Antti Sinisalo (VTT Ventures), Timo Tirkkonen (Inventure), Janne Juhola (Innovestor Ventures), Jussi Mäkynen (Spectral Engines), Uula Kantojärvi (Spectral Engines), Jarkko Antila (Spectral Engines), Maik Müller (m-u-t AG).
Together towards the new ”big thing”
Maik Müller, CEO of the m-u-t group, emphasizes that the acquisition is extremely beneficial to m-u-t. As a keen observer of the technology field, m-u-t has been following the success story of MEMS-based technologies, Spectral Engines and their product development from the get-go.
“We have been aware for quite some time that MEMS-based spectrometers are the new ‘big thing’. We were scanning the market and talking to companies and research institutions to get a better grip of the concept and find the best way into this future technology. As we’ve followed different players in the market we’ve also evaluated all upcoming technologies with microelectromechanical approaches for years. With Spectral Engines, we saw a great opportunity of not only having access to a great and now ready to use sensor technology but at the same time finding an environment that offers cloud capabilities and expertise in machine learning. We believe that the combination of the three will substantially influence the market and we see Spectral Engines in the pole position in regards of a broad market penetration”, Müller says.
The two companies have always had a mutual respect for each other, but it was Spectral Engines’ drive and plans to grow and the means to prove it that convinced m-u-t to take the next step towards a future together.
“Our initial meeting with Spectral Engines started off as a visit sparked by our interest to learn about the technology and ended a few hours later in excitement of the capabilities and possibilities. During the course of our discussions, the founders of Spectral Engines presented a highly ambitious growth plan. This is not surprising as usually all companies seeking to sell themselves present the ‘revenue and profitability hockey stick’ of very high growth. Initially, we were skeptical and raised a lot of questions. However, the founders were able to present a lot of evidence and a well-thought-out plan. They were not only able to convince us, but rather excite us as well,” Müller says, highlighting the fact that they have high expectations of growth for the m-u-t group and they are expecting a substantial contribution from Spectral Engines.
Jarkko Antila is looking forward to the future as well: “We are certain that m-u-t understands our vision and strategies completely. We’ve worked hard on revolutionizing the field of spectroscopy in miniaturizing sensors and making the technologies available for everyone, making mass-producible sensors and applications for a wide range of industries. The partnership with m-u-t will take us to the next level”.
New capabilities, new market segments
Until now, m-u-t has been able to address several market segments in green tech, clean tech and life science, however on the higher end of each market, which tend to be rather small and exclusive. With the acquisition of Spectral Engines and their technological capabilities, m-u-t saw an opportunity to enter the lower end and higher volume markets for the first time, even going towards B2C markets.
Spectral Engines technology offering will offer much anticipated additions to tackling these main market areas, as m-u-t’s life science segment offers products in the field of medical technology and laboratory automation, the green tech segment provides solutions for agricultural and environmental engineering applications, and the clean tech segment focuses on the industrial sector which aims for process optimization, as well as for sustainable saving of resources, raw materials, and energy. Spectral Engines technologies are a perfect fit to further develop all of these and more.
“It took a long time to bring these kinds of spectrometers to a technology readiness level we can use in industrial, medical and consumer applications outside protected lab environments. Spectral Engines really compliments our portfolio and will enable us to greatly extend our reach and open up markets that previously have not existed. This of course will give our group and the m-u-t brand a much better visibility. Spectral Engines’ technologies extend our portfolio into a price category that we have not been able to access before and gives us the opportunity to address applications that do not need hundreds or thousands of sensors but tens of thousands and even more. These markets are eagerly waiting for solutions and Spectral Engines is well positioned and capable to address these needs.”, comments Müller.
Jarkko Antila couldn’t agree more: “We feel like this was the final piece of a puzzle we’ve been putting together for the last four years. I have always believed in our product and in our team. I feel that it shows in everything that we do, and I’m glad that the people at m-u-t saw our spark, drive and enthusiasm as well.”
Maik Müller is convinced that Spectral Engines is up for the challenges that the future will bring. “When you look at the team at Spectral Engines and the enthusiasm and dedication they show, I am firmly convinced that all of our expectations will be met. This acquisition will be mutually beneficial. On the one hand, we were looking for technology and a high growth company. On the other hand, the founders were looking not only for a finance investor but rather a strategic investor with technology and market know-how and experience in growing companies out of the start-up phase into a professionally managed enterprise. With the experience we have in the group we will support these plans. Thus, in a nutshell, Spectral Engines is an important corner stone in our strategy and we are very pleased to have them in the group”, Müller concludes.
PRESS RELEASE 4.5.2018: Germany based photonics company m-u-t AG has acquired 75% of Spectral Engines’ shares