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Startup Funding: November 2020

Investors fund a wide range of chipmakers; $1.1B in investment for 28 startups.

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Numerous chipmakers pulled in funding in November 2020, with investors putting money into interconnects, memories, AI hardware, and quantum computing. Launching from stealth was a startup aiming to combine AI and 5G. Autonomous delivery did well, too, with one company raising a massive $500M. This month, we take a look at 28 companies that raised a collective $1.1B.

Semi & design
Connectivity company Kandou drew $92.3M in Series C funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners and joined by new investors Climb Ventures and Swiss Select Opportunities among other existing investors. Kandou provides ultra-short reach (USR) SerDes PHY IP using its Chord multi-wire signaling approach to improve signal integrity and latency. Funds will be used to bring the company’s first silicon product, a USB-C multiprotocol retimer solution with support for USB4, to market. Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and founded in 2011, the company has raised a total investment of $132.8M.

Optical interconnect startup Ayar Labs drew $35.0M in a Series B round led by Downing Ventures and BlueSky Capital. The round was joined by new investors Applied Ventures, Castor Ventures, and SGInnovate, as well as existing investors Founders Fund, GlobalFoundries, Intel Capital, Lockheed Martin Ventures, and Playground Global. Combining electronic and photonic elements, the company’s optical interconnect chiplets aim to replace electrical chip-to-chip I/O and can drive tens of Tb/s of bandwidth at <5 pJ/b up to 2km. It also makes a multi-wavelength, multi-port photonic IC light source for the interconnect. Based in Emeryville, Calif., and founded in 2015, Ayar Labs has raised $64.5M so far.

Ferroelectric Memory Company (FMC) raised $20.0M in Series B funding led by M Ventures and imec.xpand, with participation of SK Hynix, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, TEL Venture Capital, and eCapital for its ferroelectric hafnium oxide technology. The startup will use funding for commercializing its CMOS-compatible ferroelectric field-effect transistor (FeFET) and capacitor (FeCAP) technology for the AI, IoT, embedded memory, and high-performance stand-alone data center markets. Based in Dresden, Germany, and founded in 2016, FMC has raised $25.4M so far.

Mixed-signal ASIC designer Triad Semiconductor raised $16.7M in venture funding. The fabless company makes custom, analog, and mixed-signal ASICs for a range of applications including AR/VR, audio, radiation-hardened, and industrial. Founded in 2002 and based in Winston-Salem, N.C., Triad has raised $40.7M.

Wireless chipmaker Morse Micro raised $13.0M in a Series A round from Blackbird Ventures, Main Sequence Ventures, Clean Energy Innovation Fund, Skip Capital, and individual investor Ray Stata. Morse Micro develops Wi-Fi HaLow SoCs comprising radio, PHY, and MAC as well as an optional Host Applications Processor for ultra-low power, long reach IoT applications. Founded in 2016 and based in Surry Hills, Australia, the startup has raised $33.6M in total.

Memory maker Floadia Corporation drew ¥1.2B (~$11.4M) in a Series C round led by Teijin and joined by TEL Venture Capital, Miyako Capital, Marubeni Ventures, NEC Capital Solutions, and IDATEN Ventures. The company licenses embedded non-volatile memory IP (eNVM), primarily using the SONOS memory architecture, with a focus on low power. Floadia is working on moving to a 130nm BCD Plus platform and plans mass production in early 2021. Based in Tokyo, Japan, and founded in 2011, it has raised $32.3M.

Poing, Germany-based nextnano received a €0.3M (~$0.4M) grant to boost its simulation software for electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor nanodevices and 3D structures such as quantum dots, quantum wires, RTDs, MOSFETs, and HEMTs. Founded in 2012 as a spin-off from the Walter Schottky Institut (WSI) of the Technische Universität München, nextnano has received grants totaling ~$1.4M.

AI Hardware
EdgeQ launched from stealth with a $38.5M Series A round that included Threshold Ventures, Fusion Fund, and investor Jerry Yang for its efforts to combine 5G connectivity and AI on an SoC. The company says the platform, along with its software-programmable edge infrastructure, will allow enterprises to use private networking to better manage fleets of edge and IoT devices. Founded in 2018 and based in Santa Clara, Calif., EdgeQ has raised $51M in total.

AI chipmaker GrAI Matter Labs drew $14.0M in a funding round led by iBionext Network and joined by new investor Bpifrance as well as existing investors 360 Capital Partners and 3T Finance for its ultra-low latency neuromorphic computing platform. The startup uses the concept of sparsity alongside a Dataflow architecture and near memory computing to focus on reducing latency and power consumption. It has an accelerator chip currently available and is working on a full-stack AI SoC for visual inference at the edge. Founded in 2016 and based in Paris, France, the startup has raised $29M so far.

Opteran raised £2.1M (~$2.8M) in seed funding led by IQ Capital and joined by Episode1, Join, and Seraphim Capital for its insect-inspired approach to AI and autonomous systems. Instead of traditional deep learning and neural nets, the startup is using how insect brains observe and react to the world as the basis for its lightweight, low-power platform with navigation, SLAM, and decision-making capabilities that can be integrated into things like drones, industrial, and mining robots. Based in Sheffield, UK, it was formed in 2019 as a spin out from the University of Sheffield.

Materials
Carbice Corporation raised $15.0M in Series A funding from Downing Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures for its heat-dissipating thermal material. The company’s product is a composite of recycled aluminum and aligned carbon nanotubes and is designed to replace thermals pastes and glues in electronics and has been deployed in satellites. Based in Atlanta, Ga., and founded in 2017, Carbice has raised $16.5M to date.

Liquid X raised $1.4M in venture funding for its particle-free conductive inks. The company’s metallic inks are used to replace copper wires in printed electronics, EMI shielding, e-textiles, and flexible electronics. Founded in 2010 as a spinout from Carnegie Mellon University and based in Pittsburgh, Penn., Liquid X has raised $8.2M.

Quantum computing
Quantum computer builder IQM drew €39M (~$46.1M) in Series A funding led by MIG Fonds and joined by existing investors Tesi, OpenOcean, Maki.vc, Vito Ventures, and Matadero QED, as well as new investors Vsquared Ventures, Salvia GmbH, Santo Venture Capital, and Tencent. The startup focuses on superconducting quantum processors and the co-design of application-specific quantum hardware. IQM was recently chosen by the Finnish government to help build a five-qubit quantum computer within a year, leading to a 50-qubit device by 2024. Based in Espoo, Finland, IQM was founded in 2018 as a spin-out from Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. It has raised ~$81.6M in total.

Quantum software startup Zapata Computing raised $38.0M in a Series B round led by Comcast Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital, and Prelude Ventures, and joined by existing investors BASF Venture Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, and The Engine, as well new investors Ahren Innovation Capital, Alumni Ventures Group, Honeywell Venture Capital, ITOCHU Corporation, and Merck Global Health Innovation Fund. Zapata provides a quantum computing workflow management platform that optimizes performance of quantum hardware, provides data analytics, and works on classical hardware. Based in Boston, Mass., and founded in 2017 as a spin out from Harvard University, the startup has raised over $64M to date.

ColdQuanta raised $32.0M in a Series A round led by Global Frontier Investments and LCP Quantum Partners and joined by current investor Maverick Ventures and new investor Foundry Group. The company manufactures components, instruments, and turnkey systems for a range of cold and ultracold atom applications including quantum computing, global positioning, signal processing, and communications. Founded in 2007, ColdQuanta is based in Boulder, Colo., and has raised $51.6M.

Automotive
Self-driving delivery vehicle company Nuro drew $500.0M in Series C funding led by T. Rowe Price Associates and joined by new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company and Baillie Gifford as well as existing investors SoftBank Vision Fund and Greylock. The company’s fully autonomous, low speed electric vehicle targets delivery of things such as groceries, takeaway food, and retail goods and has operated in California, Texas, and Arizona without occupants or chase cars. Based in Mountain View, Calif., and founded in 2016, Nuro has raised $1.5B in total.

Autonomous trucking startup Inceptio Technology drew $120.0M in venture funding led by Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) and joined by GLP, G7, and NIO Capital. Inceptio’s autonomous driving system is starting at Level 3, with plans to develop Level 4 software and a network of vehicles that will operate on a ‘Transportation-as-a-Service’ model. The company has teamed up with Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles and SINOTRUK in the development of a Level 3 autonomous truck, with volume production expected by the end of 2021. Based in Shangai, China and founded in 2018, Inceptio has raised $220.0M in total.

Autonomous trucking company Gatik raised $25.0M led by Innovation Endeavors and Wittington Ventures and joined by AngelPad, Dynamo Ventures, FM Capital Group, Fontinalis Partners, and Intact Ventures. Gatik focuses on self-driving delivery vans and box trucks for middle mile, short-haul trucking. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., and founded in 2017, it has raised $29.5M so far.

Lunewave drew $7.0M in Series A investment led by FM Capital and joined by Proeza Ventures, Blue 9 Capital, Tsingyuan Ventures, and Intact Ventures for its spherical Luneburg lenses and radar technology for ADAS and autonomous vehicles, wireless communications, robotics, and drones. The company says its radar system offers up to 360° field of view, an angular resolution of 0.5°, and 250m range. Based in Tucson, Ariz., Lunewave was founded in 2017 and has raised $12.5M.

Motorcycle ADAS startup Ride Vision raised $7.0M in Series A funding led by OurCrowd and joined by Metagal, Mobilion Ventures, and YL Ventures. The company’s add-on system aims to improve motorcycle safety by using wide angle cameras and computer vision to analyze the traffic around a rider in real time, providing collision alerts and blind spot monitoring. Based in Tel Aviv, Israel and founded in 2018, Ride Vision has raised $9.5M.

Provizio raised $6.2M from Act Venture Capital, European Innovation Council, individual investor Bobby Hambrick, and Barry Lunn, a founder of Provizio and its CEO. The startup is developing a five-dimensional sensory platform that it says uses AI to perceive, predict, and prevent car accidents in real time and beyond the line of sight. Founded in 2019 and based in Limerick, Ireland, Provizio plans to sell its system to Tier 1s.

Autonomous driving simulation company Morai raised $1.8M in Series A funding from Kakao Ventures, Korea Credit Guarantee Fund, and NAVER D2 Startup Factory. The startup’s simulation software covers vehicle dynamics and various sensor models, real-world maps, and surrounding environmental and vehicle behavior. Based in Seoul, South Korea, Morai was founded in 2018.

Steradian Semiconductors received an undisclosed amount of funding from Inflexor Ventures. Based in Bengaluru, India, and founded in 2016, Steradian Semi makes 4D radar imaging modules and software.

Electric vehicles
Supercapacitor manufacturer Skeleton Technologies raised €41.3M (~$48.5M) in Series D funding from EIT InnoEnergy, FirstFloor Capital, MM Grupp, and Harju Elekter for its ultracapacitor-based energy storage technology for automotive, grid, industrial, and transportation industries. The company uses ‘curved graphene’ to provide increased energy density and electrical conductivity compared to activated carbon. Founded in 2009 and based in Tallinn, Estonia, Skeleton Technologies is currently working with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology on a graphene-based fast-charging battery. It has raised around $100M in total.

EV motorcycle startup Scorpio Electric raised $6.3M in Series A funding for its high performance ‘smart’ electric motorcycles that use AI and data analytics to improve efficiency. The company’s parent company is EuroSports Global Limited, and funding will be used for software and hardware development as well as completion of headquarters and an assembly plant. Based in Singapore and founded in 2017, the company has raised $7.8M so far.

Elmtronics raised £1.5M (~$2.0M) in seed funding led by Northeast Venture Fund and joined by The Ingenious Group for its EV charging stations. It provides public, business, and home charging stations and plans to put more focus on underserved regions in the UK. The startup was founded in 2016 and is based in Consett, UK.

EV charging network Statiq raised $1.8M in seed funding from Y Combinator. It provides charging stations for both cars and bikes to a range of businesses. Founded in 2019, it is based in Gurgaon, India.

EV charging company SWTCH received a $1.0M grant from Natural Resources Canada. The startup focuses on EV charging deployment and management for high-density urban areas and multi-tenant buildings. Based in Toronto, Canada, and founded in 2016, the company has received $3.5M in total.


Table: Selected companies funded in November 2020.

AI applications
This month, there were fewer $100M+ rounds for startups using AI in their offerings.

  • DataRobot raised $270.0M in Series F for its enterprise AI platform to help companies extract useful information from data.
  • SentinelOne raised $267.0M for a cloud-based cybersecurity platform that uses AI behavioral models to protect endpoints and other assets from malware and ransomware.
  • Cars24 raised $200.0M as a marketplace for used cars that uses AI pricing algorithms to determine vehicle market value.

Related
Find our prior startup funding reports here.
Israel: Startup Powerhouse
Cerfe Labs: Spin-On Memory
Moov: Used Equipment Digital Marketplace Startup
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