Startup Funding: June 2020

Sixteen startups draw $661M in June; big funding for chips in China; more quantum startups.


Two Chinese startups drew big investment as the country aims to become more semiconductor independent as trade restrictions continue. One company deals in wafers, packaging, and IC design, while the other is focused on AI chips. Quantum computing startups didn’t see large investments this month, as most are still very young companies, but the number of them grew with a new university spin-out emerging from stealth. This month, we highlight sixteen startups that collectively raised more than $661 million.

Semiconductors & design
Beijing Eswin Computing Technology raised a massive $283.0M in Series B funding as it aims to boost China’s chip industry. Eswin produces 12-inch monocrystalline silicon polished wafers and epitaxial wafers; rear-end advanced packaging and testing for ICs, COF tapes, and panel-level integrated packaging and testing; and IoT-focused ICs for displays and videos, AI data processing, and wireless connectivity. The round was led by Legend Capital and IDG Capital and joined by Lighthouse Capital Management and River Head Capital. The Beijing-based company was founded in 2016.

AI chipmaker Biren Technology drew CN¥1,100.0M (~$155.5M) in Series A funding. The startup is working on a ‘universal computing system’ for general-purpose intelligent computing in the cloud. The round was led by Qiming Venture Partners, IDG Capital, and Walden International and joined by CCI Holdings, CDB Equipment Manufacturing Industrial Investment Fund, Gree Venture Capital, Glory Ventures, Green Pine Capital Partners, Meridian Capital, and V Fund Management. The Shanghai-based company was founded only last year but says it has a team of nearly 100 with experience in GPUs and domain specific accelerators.

Credo Semiconductor raised $100.0M in Series D funding led by BlackRock. Founded in 2008 and based in San Jose, CA, USA, the company develops serial connectivity solutions for data centers and wireless carriers, including 400G/800G backplane and line card connectivity with retimers, gearboxes, and MACsec, as well as a line of HiWire Active Electrical Cables. Credo also provides 56G and 112G SerDes IP and chiplets.

Laser maker Everbright Photonics raised CN¥150.0M (~$21.2M) in Series C funding led by Huatai Securities and joined by SDIC Venture Capital and Nanjing Daofeng Investment. Founded in 2012 and based in Suzhou, China, Everbright Photonics designs and manufactures high-power semiconductor laser chips, high-efficiency VCSEL chips, high-speed optical communication chips, and related optoelectronic devices and application systems. The company has raised over CN¥300 (~$42.4M) so far.

Luminous Computing raised $9.0M in a Series A round led by Helios Capital for its photonic chip for AI workloads. The startup claims its photonic IC can replace 3000 TPU boards and eliminate the current bottleneck in moving data around. Based in Palo Alto, CA, USA and founded in 2018, Luminous Computing has raised $18.0M in total.

Poing, Germany-based nextnano received a €0.25M (~$0.29M) grant for its simulation software for electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor nanodevices, including 3D structures. The startup’s software is used for simulating nanotransistors, LEDs, laser diodes, quantum dots, nanowires, quantum cascade lasers, HEMTs, photodetectors, and solar cells. Founded in 2012 as a spin-off from the Walter Schottky Institut (WSI) of the Technische Universität München, nextnano has received grants totaling €0.9M (~$1.0M).

Quantum computing
Espoo, Finland-based quantum computer builder IQM was awarded a €2.5M (~$2.8M) grant and up to €15M (~$17M) of equity investment from the EIC Accelerator program as part of a Series A round. The startup focuses on superconducting quantum processors and co-design of quantum computing hardware and applications. Having recently expanded to Germany, IQM plans to use the funding to support its goal of hiring one quantum engineer per week. Founded in 2018, IQM is a spin-out from Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and has raised €32M (~$36.2M) in total.

IonQ drew $7.0M in a continued Series B round for its trapped ion quantum computer. It uses lasers pointed at ionized ytterbium atoms, which the company claims allows it to perform longer, more sophisticated calculations with fewer errors. Additionally, the design is reconfigurable to support different numbers of qubits without changing underlying hardware of the chip. Lockheed Martin, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, and Cambium Capital Partners participated in the round. Based in College Park, MD, USA and founded in 2015, IonQ has raised $84.0M in total.

Universal Quantum emerged from stealth with  £3.6M (~$4.5M) in seed funding for its goal of building a large-scale quantum computer. Investors include Hoxton Ventures, Village Global, Propagator Ventures, Luminous Ventures, FoundersX Ventures, and 7percent Ventures. The startup is taking a different approach to building a quantum computer. By harnessing trapped ions to carry out calculations using microwave technology, it reduces the need for large numbers of laser beams and reduces the cooling needed to a comparatively warm -200C. The system is also modular for scaling up. Based in Brighton, U.K., the Universal Quantum was founded in 2018 as a spin-out from the University of Sussex.

Horizon Quantum Computing raised $2.4M in seed-plus funding for its programming tools to simply software creating for quantum computers. Founded in 2018, the Singapore-based startup aims to remove the need for prior quantum computing experience by automatically adapting programs written for conventional computing. The round was led by Sequoia Capital India with participation from previous investors SGInnovate, Abies Ventures, DCVC, Qubit Protocol, Summer Capital, and Posa CV. Total funding has reached SGD 4.5M (~$3.2M).

OneView raised $3.5M in seed funding led by TPY Capital and joined by MediaTek Ventures and Rafael Development Corporation. The startup creates synthetic datasets for machine learning model training with a focus on geospatial satellite and aerial imagery. Based in Ramat Gan, Israel and founded in 2018.

Automotive & avionics
Electric aircraft company Lilium raised $35.0M in venture funding from Baillie Gifford, adding to its March $240.0M Series C round. Based in Munich, Germany and founded in 2015, the company is developing the Lilium Jet, a five-seater all-electric, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and plans to begin an air taxi service in 2025. Lilium has raised $376.4M in total.

Magtec received a £6.0M (~$7.5M) grant from the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK. Magtec designs and manufactures electric drive systems and components for a range of vehicle types including commercial trucks, buses, and off-road multi-wheeled and tracked military vehicles. Founded in 1992 and based in Sheffield, U.K, the company also retrofits vehicles to electric drive.

Radar startup Bitsensing drew $5.8M in Pre-Series A funding led by LB Investment and joined by Mando Corporation, SB Partners, and existing investors Future Play and SJ Investment Partners. The startup’s radar sensors target automotive and autonomous driving with a 24GHz radar and FHD camera for real time lane by lane traffic data. It also is aiming for the smart building and smart city market with radar sensors that can read vital signs while maintaining privacy. Based in Seoul, South Korea and founded in 2018, Bitsensing has raised $7.4M in total.

Trojan Energy raised £4.1M (~$5.1M), £1.0M (~$1.2M) in seed funding led by Equity Gap and joined by Alba Equity, SIS Ventures, and Scottish Investment Bank, plus a £3.1M (~$3.9M) grant from Innovate UK. Founded in 2016 and based in Stonehaven, U.K., Trojan Energy makes fast on-street EV charging ports with a flat profile that takes up less sidewalk space.

infiniDome raised $1.6M in seed funding for its anti-jamming, anti-spoofing technology for wireless communications. The startup’s initial products focus on preventing GPS/GNSS attacks and target commercial and consumer vehicles, maritime vessels, and telecom infrastructure. Boundary Holding, Next Gear Ventures, and Aston Partners participated in the round. Based in Caesarea, Israel and founded in 2016, infiniDome has raised $2.7M in total.

And autonomy isn’t just for cars: three companies drew funding for autonomous warehouse vehicles.

  • Kitchener, Canada-based OTTO Motors, a division of Clearpath Robotics, raised $29M in Series C for materials and inventory handling robots.
  • Union City, CA, USA-based Third Wave Automation raised $15M in Series A for autonomous forklifts.
  • Shenzhen, China-based VisionNav Robotics raised CN¥100M (~$14.3M) in Series B for autonomous forklifts and materials handlers.

AI applications
Ninety-four startups funded this month say they’re using AI in their applications or business, raising $910.9M between them.

The largest sector, by both amount raised and number of companies, was healthcare, medical, and drug discovery. Twenty-two companies raised a total of $192.9M, with Beijing-based Shukun Technology drawing the highest individual funding in a CN¥200M (~$28.2M) round. Shukun develops diagnostic systems for detecting cardiovascular diseases.

Second in both number and value was enterprise and data analytics, with 15 startups raising $132.0M. San Francisco-based Domino Data Lab drew the most funding in the category with a $43.0M Series E round for its data science and model management platform used in a range of industries.

Banking and fintech rounds out the top three sectors with one startup, Pagaya Investments, drawing the bulk of the funding. New York-based Pagaya raised $102.0M and provides investment management in the fixed income and alternative credit markets.

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