Kaiam boosts headcount as group secures top tech work

Kaiam said growth has been driven by demand for its technology which speeds up communication between computers

Kaiam said growth has been driven by demand for its technology which speeds up communication between computers

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Optical electronics manufacturer Kaiam has landed one of its largest contracts to date as the company’s Livingston facility returns to employment levels not seen for more than a decade.

The site at Starlaw Industrial Estate – home to university spin-out Kymata in the late 1990s – has expanded its workforce by 25 per cent so far this year to reach 350 staff. Kaiam, which is headquartered in California, said growth has been driven by demand for its technology which speeds up communication between computers.

Those employment numbers were confirmed as Kaiam unveiled a new multi-million pound contract to supply what it described as one of the “world’s top technology companies”. A spokesman said it is one of the highest-value deals in the history of Kaiam, founded in 2010 by chief executive Bardia Pezeshki.

“This deal is great news for the company,” Pezeshki said. “It further endorses our technology leadership in high-speed optical transceivers by delivering innovative products that meet the requirements of data centre customers in terms of performance, quality, cost and delivery.”

Kaiam’s products reduce the amount of power lost when data bundled together on a fibre optic cable is split out for handling by a network of linked computers. Its current “QSFP+” device handles 40 gigabytes per second – the equivalent of about 40 hours of standard definition television – while the newer 100-gigabyte version is in testing with several customers.

This speeds up transactions such as online orders or the posting of social media updates. The name of Kaiam’s new client is bound by commercial confidentiality, but the types of companies that rely on this technology would include Amazon, Apple, Google or Facebook.

The Livingston facility traces its roots back to 1998, when Kymata was established on the back of technology developed at the universities of Glasgow and Southampton. At its height employed about 450 people.

After raising more than £100 million of venture capital investment, Kymata was headed for a stock market flotation but was derailed by the dotcom crash. It was instead sold to France’s Alcatel Optronics, which two years later was acquired by Avanex of the US.

The Scottish site traded hands again in 2004, when it became part of California-based Gemfire. The facility nearly closed down at the end of 2008 as the recession came to bear, dwindling down to just six staff, but was saved in a last-minute deal. Kaiam took over in 2013 and expanded the workforce from 65 to 260 by the end of last year. This year’s continued growth to 350 is expected to carry on as Kaiam recruits “key skills” in management and engineering.

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