12 September 2023 - Oxford, UK: First Light Fusion (“First Light”), the world’s leading inertial fusion start-up, has today announced the appointment of Christophe Junillon as its new Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

The senior appointment is a key part of First Light’s accelerated plans to demonstrate ‘Ignition’ and ‘Gain’ this decade and launch a pilot power plant based on its unique projectile approach in the 2030s.

Bringing over 20 years’ senior leadership experience in the nuclear (fission and fusion) and renewable energy space, Christophe will take up the position at the beginning of October. He joins First Light from the global engineering and project management consultancy Atkins, where he spent the last year as Managing Director of its Nuclear and Power division, leading a global team of 2,000 consultants from the UK.

Holding various leadership roles at Atkins over the last two decades, Christophe has extensive experience in the development of nuclear new builds within the fusion space and the operations of major power sites, as well as energy storage and waste management. This includes leading the development of some of the UK’s largest and most complex energy generation sites.

As CTO, Christophe will lead all aspects of First Light’s technology strategy, including the design and development of First Light’s Ignition and Gain demonstrator, Machine 4, which, when built, will be the largest pulsed power facility in the world and a critical piece of research infrastructure for High Energy Density physics in the UK. Christophe will also lead on the design and build of a First Light pilot power plant, which the company is planning to be operational in the 2030s.

The design phase of Machine 4 is already well underway, and construction is due to commence at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site in Culham by the end of next year with a view to being operational by the end of this decade. Christophe’s experience and expertise will be invaluable in completing this complex, multi-year project. Demonstrating ignition is the next key milestone on its path to developing viable commercial technology capable of delivering fusion energy to the grid.

He will replace founder and CEO Dr Nick Hawker, who has been operating as CTO, as well as CEO, since 2011. As Chief Executive, Nick will continue to oversee and lead the company’s technical and corporate strategy, engaging with key stakeholders and investors, and overseeing the future growth of the team.

First Light has plans for further senior leadership appointments and currently employs just under 100 full time employees.

The senior leadership team at First Light Fusion is: Dr Nick Hawker – Chief Executive; David Bryon – Chief Financial Officer; Ryan Ramsey – Chief Operating Officer; and Christophe Junillon – Chief Technology Officer.

Christophe Junillon, Chief Technology Officer at First Light Fusion, said:

“Fusion energy has incredible potential to transform our energy systems in a way that is both sustainable and affordable. First Light’s proven approach is at the cutting edge and the impressive progress it is making shows the potential it has for commercialisation. This is an extremely exciting juncture to join as the First Light team gears towards demonstrating ignition and gain this decade, and I can’t wait to support this development as CTO from October.”

Dr Nick Hawker, Co-founder & CEO of First Light Fusion, said:

“We are very excited to be welcoming Christophe to our senior leadership team. Christophe comes with a wealth of technical experience that is needed to hold this role at this point in our journey, as we rapidly advance plans to deliver our Gain demonstrator – Machine 4 – this decade. This major appointment is a testament and endorsement to our strong reputation in the UK fusion sector as well as the credibility of our unique approach and technology.”