Luka Mustafa presents KORUZA Free Space Optical Communication System

Luka Mustafa, founder and CEO of IRNAS
Luka Mustafa, founder and CEO of IRNAS

KORUZA is a wireless free space optical (FSO) communication technology that enables up to 10Gbps data transmission over 150m distance. KORUZA garnered two out of three of the NGI Innovators Awards at the NGI Forum this year. Luka Mustafa, founder and CEO of IRNAS, describes how a creative environment boosts the capacity for engineering problem-solving and how, thanks to NGI support, his company is applying that to solve some of key technical challenges.

What’s your motivation?

About 20 years ago I got my first mobile phone, bulky and amazing. The battery lasted for a week, all I could do was to make a call and send a text message. I wondered what the future of cellular telecommunications would bring. Today, I’m fascinated by the advances in this field that happened over the last two decades which makes me motivated to help bring about transformations that will roll-out in the coming 20 years – by which time I’ll be around 50 years old!

Tell us about your mission

The beginnings of the NGI KORUZA Project reach 10 years back when I was a student at UCL in London. I had a vision of establishing a creative environment enabling young engineers to push the boundaries of technology through development of novel solutions and applying it to mission driven problems. Our mission is to apply our multi-disciplinary engineering expertise to most challenging projects, ranging from nature conservation and data communication all the way to industrial IoT projects. We are maintaining our strive to find better and unique solutions to challenges we are presented with. Today I run an engineering company IRNAS developing advanced technological solutions for a very wide palette of applications and am working on KORUZA.

Describe KORUZA

KORUZA is a free space optical communication technology, designed for various high speed data transmission applications. It uses an eye-safe collimated beam of IR light for point-to-point data transmission through the air, allowing distances of up to 150 m with fibrelike speeds of 1-10 Gbps. The low latency and jitter makes it suitable for integration in 5G network solutions and last mile applications.

What makes KORUZA original and unique?

Free space optical (FSO) communication systems have been out there for quite a while already before KORUZA was founded. We have not invented anything new in a conceptual sense. When talking about data transmission solutions, be it RF-based or other, there is always a trade-off between the cost of deployment vs. speed of data transmission. FSO systems have traditionally been placed into the top end in terms of both, meaning they ensured high data throughput for a very high comparable price. With KORUZA we have managed to maintain the data transmission speed equally high, while making it about 10x cheaper compared to other FSO systems.

NGI KORUZA Project

More importantly, we are unique in the sense that we have become the world’s first company that develops custom wireless optical communication solutions, based on all the IP and know-how that we’ve accumulated through the years. This, I would say, is a unique example of how we utilise our experience in the field and our portfolio is steadily and successfully growing in that sense. We have developed a large number of custom FSO systems for different use-cases, e.g. cable-less machines, production environments, fixed-to-moving system applications and more.

Where were you before applying to NGI funding?

Prior to signing up for the NGI programme we were exploring different options and business opportunities related to KORUZA technology. It being very niche, we have carefully investigated different potential market approaches that would best fit our internal work processes and company structure. We figured we could make good use of external expertise to help us put things in the right places and clear out our ideas. In this context we have seen a great fit between our needs and the possibilities the NGI could offer, particularly those alongside financial support.

After receiving the grant, we have first pursued a mission to use the funds to refine our technology such that it was more easily integrated in the new use-cases, preparing the ground for our further activities in that area.

In March 2021 we attended the NGI TETRA Online Scale-Up Bootcamp and were selected for the TETRA Business Acceleration Mentorship Programme.

Award winners!

We are also proud to have received two out of three awards at the NGI Forum Innovator Award competition where we pitched our KORUZA technology. We won ‘Most engaging production’ and my colleague Luka Banovic won ‘Best personal performance’.

Watch the video pitch here:

Read the full report of the NGI Forum here.

What doors did NGI unlock for your future pursuits and how?

All along we have been trying to use as much of the available mentoring as possible, which has played a vital role in our business decisions ever since. There has not been a week since then that we wouldn’t have learned something new which helped us a lot in finalising and validating our plans. This we are very grateful for.

We have managed to come up with a complement of a solid business plan and a well-refined technology. Both together allow us to scale our custom integration business in the field of FSO communication and expand this branch of our business even further.

IRNAS has in the process grown into a very advanced custom hardware solution development company. We are now known as a team of experts on electronics, embedded software, and mechanics, working together on various fields, from custom industrial IoT solutions and sensors, to advanced low-power tracking solutions and other high-tech systems.

Luka Mustafa is CEO and founder of IRNAS LTD, for more information see his LinkedIn profile.

KORUZA is also featured in the NGI Pointer Architects Booklet.