Startup Funding: August 2021

$3.5B for 35 companies scattered around the globe, including IC manufacturing equipment, AI, ADAS, and batteries.


More than $3.5 billion in funding was funneled into 35 startups last month, much of that scattered across the globe. Several Chinese companies received significant funding as the country bulks up domestic production of wafers and GPUs. In addition, with attention increasing on the need for electric vehicles and renewable energy, big investments went into battery manufacturing startups. One company making EV batteries garnered $1.5 billion, while several other large rounds were targeted at grid-scale energy storage companies. 

Semi & design
GPU startup Metax raised CNY 1,000.0M (~$155.0M) in a Series A round led by China Structural Reform Fund, joined by new investors Lenovo Capital, CDB-CDC Capital, Shanghai Technology Innovation Fund, Fosun RZ Capital, and Oriental Fortune Capital, along with existing investors Sequoia Capital China, Matrix Partners China, Lightspeed China Partners, and CTC Capital. Metax designs high-performance, reconfigurable GPUs based on its own instruction set for data center, gaming, and AI. Funds will be used for R&D, and the company recently launched a corporate research institute at Zhejiang University. Based in Shanghai, China, Metax was founded in 2020.

AI-powered tool provider Motivo drew a $12.0M Series A investment led by Intel Capital and joined by Storm Ventures, Seraph Group, Inventus Capital Partners, and other existing investors. Motivo develops AI-enabled chip design and data analytics solutions. The startup says its explainable AI technologies can be applied across the entire design flow, from RTL code to layout geometries, using data from design and yield diagnostics to identify issues. Motivo says its aim is to compress the design-to-manufacturing process from years to months. Currently, it offers tools for yield enhancement, design validation, and timing closure. The funding will be used to funding to scale the business and hire. Founded in 2015 and based in Palo Alto, Calif., it has raised over $20M to date.

HaiLa Technologies received a $3.0M grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada for its communication IP for radioless ultra-low-power IoT sensors. HaiLa’s technology uses a backscattering technique which allows modulation of digital sensor data on top of existing ambient signals of different protocols while maintaining the integrity of the signal to the original specific protocol and without the need for a dedicated signal generator. Founded in 2017, it is based in Montreal, Canada.

Audio chipmaker Axign drew a $3.0M investment from Atlantic Bridge and Ten Cate Investeringsmaatschappij. The fabless startup develops analog/mixed-signal ICs for audio amplifier systems with a focus on high audio quality. Its first product, a digital amplifier controller, includes features such as programmability, self-learning, and digital signal processing. Funding will be used to accelerate commercialization and develop its next generation audio chip for battery operated products such as earbuds and smart speakers. Founded in 2014 and based in Enschede, the Netherlands, Axign has raised $14M so far.

Forefront RF emerged from stealth with £1.5M (~$2.1M) in seed funding led by Science Creates Ventures and joined by Foresight Williams Technology, BGF, and Cambridge Angels. The startup has developed a chip that enables connected devices to operate across the 3G to 6G frequency bands, replacing banks of RF filters and switches with a low cost, tuneable RF circuit. This Adaptive Passive Cancellation (APC) technology uses embedded software to maintain the accuracy of passive self-interference cancellation circuits, which Forefront RF says enables a device to pick up weak signals while transmitting at full power. Forefront RF was founded in 2020 and is based in Cambridge, UK.

Manufacturing & equipment
Eswin Material, a subsidiary of Beijing Eswin Technology, raised over CNY3,000.0M (~$463.7M) in Series B financing led by CITIC Securities and Goldstone Investment, joined by ZWC Partners, Addor Capital, China Life Private Equity Investment, China Internet Investment Fund, Shanxi, and Xindongneng Investment Management. Eswin Material produces 12-inch monocrystalline silicon polished wafers and epitaxial wafers. Its first plant has a production capacity of 500,000 wafers per month, and the funding will be used to expand production capacity with the hopes of reducing China’s reliance on imported wafers. Founded in 2016, the company is based in Beijing, China.

PCB manufacturer AllPCB, a subsidiary of Jiepei, raised CNY 300.0M (~$46.3M) in Series B+ financing led by Shenzhen Capital Group and joined by Yuanhe Chenkun, Shangtang Technology, Gongshu International Investment, Xianghe Capital, Yuanjing Capital, Qingsong Fund and others. The company manufactures and provides prototyping and assembly services for PCBs as well as flexible and rigid-flex devices. Based in Hangzhou, China, AllPCB was started in 2015.

Chasm Advanced Materials closed a $15.0M Series C round led by WAVE Equity Partners, joined by Birla Carbon and SWM International. Chasm develops nanotube hybrid materials, which combine carbon nanotubes and another element such as carbon, graphite, silver, or copper. The company provides nanotubes specifically tailored for transparent printed electronics, batteries, and conductive paints and coatings. With the funding, it is planning to launch a category of membranes targeted at water treatment. Based in Canton, Mass., and founded in 2005, Chasm has raised $33M to date.

Component information supplier Lytica raised $3.0M in equity and grants, with equity led by York IE. Lytica’s SupplyLens platform uses AI to analyze real market pricing data for electronic components and aims to improve supply chain transparency and reduce risks. Based in Ottawa, Canada, it was founded in 2005.

Neolync Solutions raised ₹200M (~$2.7M) from Reliance Strategic Business Ventures, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. Neolync Solutions is developing a manufacturing platform for electronic products, including mobile phones and telecom. Reliance noted the investment is part of its overall 5G initiative and will increase its investment by another $5.4M if certain milestones are met. Founded in 2019, Neolync is based in Bengaluru, India.

Chromacity Lasers received £1.2M (~$1.7M) in a funding round from Kelvin Capital, EOS Technologies, Scottish Enterprise, and new investor ESM Investments. The company develops ultrafast fiber lasers for a wide range of scientific and industrial applications, including a laser source that provides ultrashort pulses between 1250 nm – 1310 nm for use in IC failure analysis platforms. Funding will be used to expand its workforce, particularly in manufacturing and R&D. Founded in 2013 as a spin out from Heriot-Watt University, Chromacity is based in Edinburgh, UK.

AI hardware
Axera raised “hundreds of millions” yuan (CNY 100M is ~$15.5M) in a Series A+ round led by Inno Chip and Meituan, followed by GGV Capital, Fengyuan Capital, and others. The startup is focused on chips for edge computer vision, including applications like facial recognition and object detection, but also says it’s working on a neural network accelerator. Founded in 2019, Axera is based in Beijing, China.

AI chip startup Pingxin Technology raised $10.0M in seed funding led by Zhen Fund and Puhua Capital, with Sequoia Capital also participating. Pingxin Technology is working to integrate data storage and computing into a combined chip architecture for AI applications. Based in Beijing, China, it was founded in 2021.

Edgecortix raised $6.0M in seed funding from Monozukuri Ventures. Edgecortix provides deep neural network accelerator IP for edge inference. Its first line of IP is comprised of five single-core configurations ranging from 1.8 to 54 INT8 TOP/s, while using less than 0.6 Watts in the smallest case and less than 8 Watts in the largest case. The startup has also developed an AI hardware and software co-exploration engine to design edge AI chips alongside optimizing neural network models to achieve throughput, latency, power, and size targets. Based in Singapore and Tokyo, Japan, it was founded in 2019.

NeuroBlade received an undisclosed amount of funding in a Series B round led by Corner Ventures. The startup has developed a computational memory chip it calls XRAM, a DRAM with embedded processing logic near the memory banks to reduce data movement. Available standalone, it is also part of the company’s system for data analytics workloads. Founded in 2018, it is based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Spectricity raised €14.0M (~$16.0M) in a Series B round from Atlantic Bridge, Capricorn Fusion China Fund, and Shanghai Semiconductor Equipment and Material Fund, alongside existing investors imec.xpand and XTRION. Spectricity offers a chip-sized, CMOS-based hyperspectral sensors and imagers for smartphones, IoT devices, and wearables. Hyperspectral sensors can be used to monitor things like heartbeat and blood oxygen level, while imagers can be used for color matching. Funding will be used to accelerate high-volume manufacturing and hiring. Founded in 2018 as a spin out from Imec, Spectricity is based in Mechelen, Belgium.

WaveScan Technologies raised $1.4M in seed funding for its beamforming electromagnetics smart sensor systems using microwave and millimeter-wave wireless sensors for high-resolution 4D sensing and non-destructive testing (NDT) applications. The company has handheld sensors and those for use on drones or unmanned ground vehicles for inspection of aircraft, pipelines, and infrastructure. Founded in 2018 as a spin out from A*STAR, WaveScan is based in Singapore.

Quantum computing
Quantum Brilliance received $9.7M in seed investment led by Main Sequence and founders of QxBranch, joined by CP Ventures, Investible, Jelix Ventures, MA Financial, R3I Ventures, and Ultratech Capital Partners. The startup uses synthetic diamonds to build quantum accelerators that do not require near absolute zero temperature or complex laser systems to operate with the goal of providing quantum accelerators the size of a lunchbox with over 50 qubits by 2025. Quantum Brilliance’s first product, a 5-qubit server rack-sized quantum accelerator, is now commercially available. It also offers a full stack of software and application tools. Based in Canberra, Australia, it was founded in 2019 as a spin-out from the Australian National University.

ADAS & autonomy
Autonomous trucking startup Inceptio Technology raised $270.0M in Series B financing led by JD Logistics, Meituan, and PAG, joined by Deppon Express, IDG Capital, CMB International, CS Capital, Mirae Asset, Eight Roads Ventures, and Broad Vision Funds, along with existing shareholders GLP Hidden Hill Capital, CATL, NIO Capital, and Eastern Bell Capital. Inceptio is developing a full-stack autonomous driving platform for heavy-duty trucks and is working with two Chinese OEMs, Dongfeng Motor and Sinotruck, on two lines of trucks going into production this year that will include its technology. Based in Shanghai, China, and founded in 2018, it has raised $490M to date.

Qcraft raised $100.0M in Series A+ funding led by YF Capital and Genesis Capital, joined by IDG Capital and Longzhu Capital. The company provides full stack autonomous driving solutions for urban environments and currently operates a fleet of robobuses in five Chinese cities, with plans to begin a robotaxi service. Based in Beijing, China, and founded in 2019, Qcraft has raised $124M.

Gatik raised $85.0M in a Series B round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and joined by Innovation Endeavors, Wittington Ventures, FM Capital, Dynamo Ventures, Trucks VC, Intact Ventures, and others. The startup is developing a middle-mile logistics network using autonomous box trucks for B2B deliveries with operations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Ontario. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., and Toronto, Canada, Gatik was founded in 2017 and has raised over $114M.

Innovusion received $66.0M in Series B+ financing led by Guotai Junan International with participation from Shunwei Capital and existing investors Nio Capital, F-Prime Capital, Eight Roads Ventures, and Temasek. Innovusion makes high resolution, long distance lidar hardware for ADAS and autonomous vehicles along with a perception and road management system to detect and track road objects. The company plans to use the funds to expand production, and its lidar systems are planned for use in NIO’s upcoming sedan. Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Suzhou, China, and founded in 2016, it has raised $160M so far.

Automotive-focused cybersecurity startup Upstream Security raised $62.0M in a Series C round led by Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and joined by I.D.I. Insurance, 57 Stars’ NextGen Mobility Fund, and La Maison Partners, along with existing investors Glilot Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Volvo Group Venture Capital, Nationwide Ventures, Delek US Holdings, and others. Upstream’s cloud-based cybersecurity and data analytics platform for connected vehicles uses machine learning, data normalization, and digital twin profiling technologies to detect anomalies in real-time using existing automotive data feeds and can be deployed as part of the automotive OEM’s vehicle security operations center. Based in Herzliya, Israel, and founded in 2017, it has raised $105M in total.

ADAS company Geometrical Pal (G-PAL) drew CNY400.0M (~$61.4M) in pre-A funding led by Matrix Partners China and Xiaomi’s Hubei Xiaomi Changjiang, joined by Baidu Ventures, Glory Ventures, Puhua Capital, PwC, and Silergy. The startup provides an L3 autonomous driving system, jointly developed with SAIC Motors, that uses 4D millimeter-wave imaging radar complemented by long-wave infrared and visual cameras with spatial analysis and decision software. It expects the hardware/software system to be included in passenger vehicles in 2023. Founded in 2018, it is based in Shanghai, China.

Spartan Radar drew $10.0M in a seed round led by Prime Movers Lab and 8VC, joined by Mac VC, Alumni Ventures Group, Broom Ventures, and Gaingels. Startan Radar develops software for automotive radar that mimics human perception processes for enhanced focus and context, which the company says makes its performance competitive with lidar. The funding will be used to scale its engineering team, build a full-scale prototype, and conduct field tests. Founded in 2020, Spartan Radar is based in Los Alamitos, Calif.

GaN startup VisIC Technologies raised $35.0M in a Series F funding round led by GoldenSand Capital and HG Semiconductors, with an additional $10.0M investment from SuZhou Industrial Partner. VisIC Technologies’ focus is gallium nitride (GaN) devices for inverters and chargers in high-power electric vehicle applications. Founded in 2010, it is based in Ness Ziona, Israel.

Svolt Energy Technology raised CNY10.3B (~$1580.0M) in Series B funding led by Bank of China Group Investment and joined by sub-funds of National Fund for Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Country Garden Venture Capital, Shenzhen Capital Group, CCB Investment, IDG Capital, Sany, Xiaomi Corporation, Oceanpine Capital, China Renaissance, and others. Original shareholders, including SDIC Venture Capital and JZ Capital, also joined. Svolt makes batteries for EVs, including cobalt-free batteries and long-life solid state batteries using a high-speed stacking process. The funds will be used for R&D and construction of new factories, expecting production capacity to exceed 200GWh in 2025. Based in Changzhou, China, Svolt was started in 2012 as part of Great Wall Motors and spun out in 2018.

Grid storage startup Form Energy raised $240.0M in a Series D round led by ArcelorMittal and joined by TPG Rise, Perry Creek Capital, and Vamos Ventures, along with existing investors NGP Energy Technology Partners, Coatue, Temasek, Energy Impact Partners, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, MIT’s The Engine, Capricorn Investment Group, Eni Next, and Macquarie Capital. Form Energy is developing a multi-day energy storage system for renewables. Its first commercial project is a rechargeable iron-air battery it says is capable of delivering electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with conventional power plants and at less than 1/10th the cost of lithium-ion. Form Energy’s first project with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy is expected to go online in 2023. Founded in 2017 and based in Somerville, Mass., it has raised over $360M.

Ambri received $144.0M in venture funding from Reliance New Energy Solar, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, and Paulson & Co, joined by Bill Gates, Fortistar, Goehring & Rozencwajg Associates, Japan Energy Fund, and others. Ambri develops long-duration liquid metal batteries for grid storage and large industrial energy customers such as data centers, currently supporting projects from 10 MWh to over 2 GWh. The company’s battery uses a liquid calcium alloy anode, a molten salt electrolyte, and a cathode comprised of solid particles of antimony. Funds will be used to design and construct high-volume manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and internationally. Reliance New Energy Solar will develop and manufacture Ambri’s batteries in India. Based in Marlborough, Mass., and founded in 2010, it has raised $211M.

Nanotech Energy drew $64.0M in a Series D round led by Fubon Financial Holding Co for its graphene-based battery. It also produces high-purity graphene itself, along with graphene-based conductive inks, adhesives, EMI shielding, and silver nanowires. The company plans to use the funds for international expansion and a new manufacturing facility. Based in Los Angeles, Calif., it was founded in 2014 and has raised over $94M to date.

Battery materials startup Echion Technologies drew a £10.0M (~$13.7M) Series A investment led by CBMM and Business Growth Fund, joined by University of Cambridge, Origin Capital, and other existing shareholders. The company says its mixed niobium oxide anode materials can provide lithium-ion batteries with fast-charge, safety, and high energy density while being compatible with standard manufacturing processes and other components. Funds will be used to scale-up to multi-tonne level material production and push commercial adoption.  Founded in 2017 as a spin out from the University of Cambridge, it is based in Cambridge, UK.

Log 9 Materials raised $5.0M in Series A+ investment led by Amara Raja Batteries with an additional $3.5M from Exfinity Ventures, Sequoia Capital India, and individual investors. The startup develops graphene-based batteries, including a new rapid charge battery for two- and three-wheel vehicles. The funding will be used to expand production capacity and R&D for supercapacitors and aluminum fuel cells. Founded in 2015, it is based in Bengaluru, India.

Prieto Battery raised $5.7M in Series C investment led by Pilatus Capital and joined by existing investors including Stanley Ventures. The company is working on 3D solid-state lithium-ion batteries using an integrated cathode and anode with a solid polymer electrolyte separator it says offers fast charging, high power and energy density, high and low temperature operation, and increased safety. The funding will be used to scale up and start development of a high-volume manufacturing processes. Based in Fort Collins, Colo., Prieto Battery was founded in 2009 and has raised over $9M.

Battery recycling company Librec drew CHF 3.0M (~$3.3M) in seed and debt financing from the Swiss Federal Office of Environment, with an additional CHF 1.0M (~$1.1M) in grants from Innosuisse to finalize process technology. The startup aims to recover and reuse more than 90% of components from large lithium-ion batteries used in e-mobility, and says that residual energy from batteries covers one third of required process energy. It plans to begin collection of batteries in 2022 and industrial recycling in 2023. Based in Oensingen, Switzerland, Librec was founded earlier in 2021.

Lithium-ion battery assembler I-G3N received ZAR 20.0M (~$1.3M) in seed funding from Edge Growth and the ASISA ESD initiative. The startup’s batteries target stationary systems, such as solar and backup power systems, as well as e-mobility, with a particular focus on supplying projects in Africa. Founded in 2018, I-G3N is based in Midrand, South Africa.

Table: Selected companies that received funding in August 2021.

AI applications
How are all those new AI chips being used? Here are a selection of recently funded companies using AI in products and services.

  • Databricks raised $1,600.0M in Series F for its analytics platform that seeks to unify data management and performance typically found in data warehouses with the low-cost, flexible object stores offered by data lakes.
  • Dataiku raised $400.0M in Series E for its enterprise-focused platform to design, deploy, and manage AI and analytics applications. It also offers prebuilt components and automation.
  • XtalPi raised $400.0M in Series D for AI-powered solid state R&D of small molecule drugs, combining cloud-based in silico tools and a wet lab with robotic automation.
  • Shield AI raised $210.0M in Series D to develop AI and self-driving technologies for military aircraft.
  • Seismic raised $170.0M in Series G for its sales assistance platform that aims to improve performance of sales staff.
  • Adverity raised $120.0M in Series D for its data and analytics platform for marketing, sales, and ecommerce teams.
  • ai raised $100.0M in Series D for its sales and marketing platform that uses business activity captured directly from email, calendar, and conferencing systems.

Find prior startup funding reports here.
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