Trendspotting: Automotive IC Startup Funding In 2023

Who’s investing in automotive chip startups, where it’s happening, and what’s driving it.


Consumers expect a lot from the electronics in their cars. The parts in the safety-critical systems need to be reliable for up to 18 years, able to handle a range of temperatures, voltages, and vibrations — and all the while be fault-tolerant and make zero errors. On top of those basic requirements, automakers trying to appeal to consumers are adding in more features that communicate with the outside world, automate some driving tasks, warn and monitor the driver, and entertain the passengers.

Known for its use of conservative, reliable, older chips, the automotive industry has adopted a whole new philosophy. It now is looking to include some of the most advanced chips, providing they can be certified to automotive standards. Some of these ICs will find their way into electric and autonomous vehicles, where leading-edge digital logic, advanced packaging, and sophisticated AI algorithms are potential game-changers.

The opportunity is potentially enormous, and investors around the globe are placing their bets on new chips, sensors, materials that can withstand high voltages, power management controllers, AI, new car network architectures, and radar and lidar improvements. In this mix are MCUs, DSPs, SoCs, AI accelerators, data and network processing units, as well as memory.

Major trends in automotive

Underlying all of this is the increasing electrification of vehicles, where chips and electrical systems are used to improve safety, improve the overall driver experience, and ultimately to reduce a vehicle’s carbon footprint. This is a mammoth task, and it requires an equally broad shift in technology, including

  • Using new materials, such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), for making chips that can withstand higher temperatures at higher voltages;
  • Managing power use to improve range and efficiency;
  • Reducing the weight of the car, which means fewer wires, more shared resources, more efficient and smaller electronics, and new architectures;
  • Developing ways to move data more efficiently and to make decisions faster and increasingly autonomously;
  • Connecting the car wirelessly to external infrastructure;
  • Improving sensors and sensor systems at a lower cost;
  • Improving driver controls and feature offerings, some through subscriptions, and
  • Making cars safer, more resilient to failure, and more secure.

Much of this technology is new, innovative, and being driven by startups rushing to solve a long list of challenges. Semiconductor Engineering examined the trends, the various sectors, and how much money was invested in startups throughout 2023. What follows is a representative list that provides a glimpse of the magnitude of these changes.

Company Sector Amount Raised (M, USD) HQ
Nullmax ADAS/AV Chip $106.8 China
Kneron ADAS/AV Chip $49.0 USA
Huixi Technology ADAS/AV Chip $28.5+ China
EdgeCortix ADAS/AV Chip $20.0 Japan
VSORA ADAS/AV Chip $17.4 France
EVAS Intelligence ADAS/AV Chip $14.0 China
Aspinity ADAS/AV Chip $5.0 USA
BOS Semiconductors ADAS/AV Chip $2.3 South Korea
Chiplego Technology ADAS/AV Chip Undisclosed China
iStarChip Auto MCU $14.0 China
YTMicro Auto MCU $13.8+ China
Advanchip Auto MCU Undisclosed China
GTA Semiconductor Auto Power Semi $1,848.4 China
AST Science Technology Auto Power Semi $44.5 China
KKChips Automotive Electronics Auto Power Semi $14.5 China
Gongmo Semiconductor Auto Power Semi $13.8 China
Immorta Microelectronics Auto Power Semi $13.8 China
E-tronic Auto Power Semi $1.5+ China
Chipsine Semiconductor Auto Power Semi $1.4+ China
Cloud Child Technology Auto Power Semi $1.4+ China
Haike Electronics Auto Power Semi $1.4+ China
Zhiming Microelectronics Auto Power Semi $1.4+ China
Zhongke Saifei Auto Power Semi $1.4+ China
GiantOhm Auto Power Semi Undisclosed China
J2 Semiconductor Auto Power Semi Undisclosed China
LingRui Semiconductor Auto Power Semi Undisclosed China
Meraki Integrated Auto Power Semi Undisclosed China
PN Junction Semiconductor Auto Power Semi Undisclosed China
Xinlian Power Auto Power Semi Undisclosed China
Zero-Error Systems Auto Security $2.5 Singapore
Uni-Sentry Auto Security $1.4+ China
Shanghai Thinktech Auto Security Undisclosed China
SiEngine Technology Cockpit $72.5 China
Mojo Vision Cockpit $22.4 USA
Oritek Semiconductor Cockpit $14.6+ China
Genesys Microelectronics Cockpit $14.5+ China
Boréas Technologies Cockpit $12.0 Canada
iGentAI Computing Technology Cockpit $1.5+ China
Dashchip Cockpit $0.6 China
Xlink Semiconductor Cockpit Undisclosed China
Ethernovia Data Movement $64.0 USA
SPARK Microsystems Data Movement $24.7 Canada
Rsemi Technology Data Movement $21.0 China
Meritech Integrated Circuits Data Movement $14.0 China
LFC Semiconductor Data Movement $1.4+ China
Shichuangyi Electronics Memory $86.2 China
SiLC Technologies Lidar $25.0 USA
Adaps Photonics Lidar $14.6 China
Leishen Intelligent System Lidar $13.7+ China
Lumotive Lidar $13.0 USA
Fortsense Lidar Undisclosed China
Omnitron Sensors Lidar Undisclosed USA
Siliconroad Semiconductor Lidar Undisclosed China
KiSilicon Technology Navigation $14.3 China
Bynav Technology Navigation $14.0+ China
Grayscale AI Navigation $0.1 UK
Senasic Pressure $70.1 China
MZJ Sensor Pressure $1.5+ China
Muye Microelectronics Radar $14.5 China
Guibu Microelectronics Radar $14.0 China
Youhang Technology Radar $1.4+ China

Power delivery (SiC, GaN, power semiconductors)

Power semiconductors based on wide-bandgap materials, such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), are key to improving range and battery operation in electric vehicles. SiC production is ramping quickly, driven by end market demand in automotive and price parity with silicon. Many thousands of power semiconductor modules already are in use in electric vehicles for on-board charging, traction inversion, and DC-to-DC conversion. Today, most of those are fabricated using silicon-based IGBTs. A shift to silicon carbide-based MOSFETs doubles the power density and accelerates switching speed in a smaller and lighter package.[i]

Funding went to startup companies designing automotive chips with SiC, especially MOSFET chips and modules, GaN devices, and power semiconductors.

AST Science Technology raised more than CNY 300.0M (~$44.5M) in Series A+ funding led by Summitview Capital, joined by China Capital Management, ShanJin Capital, Hengxu Capital, China Development Bank Capital, Creo Capital, Rockchip Capital, Huajin Capital, and others, in January 2023. AST makes automotive-grade SiC MOSFET chips and modules, primarily for new energy vehicles and photovoltaics. Founded in 2017, it is based in Shenzhen, China.

Chipsine Semiconductor drew tens of millions of yuan (CNY 10.0M is ~$1.4M) in pre-Series A financing in August 2023. The startup develops high-voltage power ICs and mixed-signal SoCs for automotive. Founded in 2022, it is based in Suzhou, China.

Cloud Child Technology raised hundreds of millions of yuan (CNY 100.0M is ~$14.3M) in Series A funding in May 2023 from Yufu Holding, China Capital Management, Jolmo Capital, and Ori-mind Capital. Cloud Child produces power semiconductors, including IGBT single tubes and modules, high/low voltage MOSFETs, and gate driver ICs. It targets automotive, photovoltaics, industrial control machines, and power supplies. Founded in 2018, it is based in Shenzhen, China.

E-tronic raised tens of millions of yuan (CNY 10.0M is ~$1.5M) in Series A+ financing from Sinovation Ventures in March 2023. E-tronic focuses on automotive power devices, with products including SiC motor controllers, SiC power modules, battery management systems, DC/DC converters, on-board chargers, and vehicle control units. Based in Guangzhou, China, it was founded in 2021.

GTA Semiconductor drew CNY 13,500.0M (~$1,848.4M) in new financing in September 2023. The company manufactures a range of automotive power and analog chips, including power management ICs, discretes, SiC power devices, and MCUs. GTA Semiconductor offers foundry, test, and mask services. Founded in 2017, it is based in Shanghai, China.

Immorta Microelectronics raised nearly CNY 100.0M (~$13.8M) in pre-Series A funding from Hygoal Capital, Simic Capital, and GSR United Capital in August 2023. Immorta makes automotive analog and mixed-signal chips, including power management and signal chain chips, system basis chips (SBC), domain controllers and other computing and control chips, and wireless connectivity chips. Funds will be used for hiring and mass production. Founded in 2022, it is based in Wuhan, China.

J2 Semiconductor received investment from Xiaomi, China Fortune-Tech Capital, Leading Capital, and Sunic Capital in May 2023. The company makes automotive power semiconductor and analog chips, including motor drivers and SiC MOSFETs. Founded in 2021, it is based in Shanghai, China.

LFC Semiconductor plans to release an ASIL-B power management chip for automotive cameras and sensor modules using its technology (see clock section under sensors).

Mojo Vision designs custom micro-lens optics using a high-volume manufacturing process based on 300mm gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si). See Mojo Vision under driver controls/cockpit section below.

PN Junction Semiconductor received strategic investment from Dongfeng Motor’s Dongfeng Asset Management in August 2023. PNJ provides SiC and GaN power devices, with products including SiC Schottky barrier diodes, SiC MOSFET, and GaN HEMT. Its products cover the 650V-3300V voltage range and target a variety of applications, including server power supplies, new energy vehicles, smart grid, photovoltaic inverters, industrial motors, and other switched-mode power supplies. Founded in 2018, it is based in Hangzhou, China.

Xlink Semiconductor drew Series A funding from ZJ Innopark, SND Financial Holdings, and others in August 2023. Xlink Semi primarily focuses on mixed-signal power amplifiers for automotive applications, including entertainment systems, external audio for EVs, and acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS). Funds will be used for testing, certification, and mass production of auto-grade Class D power amplifier chips. Founded in 2021, it is based in Shanghai, China.

Controllers and battery management

Advanchip received angel funding from Teda VC, Z&Y Capital, and others in May 2023. The startup makes motor controller, compressor controller, and PFC controller MCUs for automotive and industrial applications. Its products include energy-saving technology for variable frequency motors, which it says can reduce peak load on the power grid. Founded in 2021, it is based in Zhuhai, China.

Gongmo Semiconductor received nearly CNY 100.0M (~$13.8M) in Series A funding led by SR Capital, joined by Haiwang Capital, Fengyuan Capital, Hushan Capital, Summitview Capital, Oriza Holdings, and Destination Beyond Investment in August 2023. The startup makes analog chips, including ADC/DAC, voltage regulators, gate drivers, power supplies, and battery management for industrial, automotive, and medical applications. Founded in 2021, it is based in Suzhou, China.

Immorta Microelectronics raised nearly CNY 100.0M (~$13.8M) in pre-Series A funding from Hygoal Capital, Simic Capital, and GSR United Capital in August 2023. Immorta makes automotive analog and mixed-signal chips, including power management and signal chain chips, system basis chips (SBC), domain controllers and other computing and control chips, and wireless connectivity chips. Founded in 2022, it is based in Wuhan, China.

KKChips Automotive Electronics received new investment from Xiaomi in January 2023 and received nearly CNY 100.0M (~$14.5M) in pre-Series A funding led by Xiaomi and Highlight Capital, joined by Long Capital in March 2023. The startup makes automotive power semiconductors including BCD (Bipolar-CMOS-DMOS) chips and high-side, low-side, and half-bridge driver ICs. It targets electronic control units, regional controllers, body control modules, and climate control systems. Founded in 2021, it is based in Guangzhou, China.

Meraki Integrated raised over CNY 100.0M (~$13.9M) in Series B financing from Shenzhen High-tech Investment, Lotus Lake Capital, Hui Capital, energy management companies GoodWe and AP Systems, and others in July 2023. Meraki makes analog and mixed-signal power chips. Products include AC/DC pulse-width modulation controllers, DC/DC buck converters, synchronous rectifier controllers and switchers, and gate drivers for applications including power management, automotive electronics, power drive modules, motor drives and sensors. Founded in 2017, it is based in Shenzhen, China.

Thin film resistors

GiantOhm received new financing led by Inovance Investment in February 2023. The startup manufactures resistors with a focus on the automotive market. Its products include thick film resistors, thin film resistors, alloy resistors, and plastic package resistors. Founded in 2021, it is based in Ningbo, China.

Memory, storage

Shichuangyi Electronics (SCY) drew CNY 340.0M (~$46.6M) in Series B financing led by Xiaomi in November 2023. SCY provides memory and storage devices. For the mobile market, it has a range of embedded memory, including eMMC, LPDDR4/4X, eMCP, uMCP, UFS, eSSD, and NAND flash. It also offers DRAM and SSDs in various form factors. In addition to consumer electronics, it targets IoT, automotive, and industrial automation. Funds will be used for R&D. Founded in 2008, it is based in Shenzhen, China.

Chips for data movement

LFC Semiconductor received tens of millions of yuan (CNY 10.0M is ~$1.4M) in a Series A round led by Fosun Capital and Shique Investment, joined by TXC Corporation in May 2023. LFC has developed a non-PLL phase modulation architecture and noise suppression algorithms that it uses in high-precision, programmable clock frequency chips and crystal oscillators for automotive. Later this year, it plans to release an ASIL-B power management chip for automotive cameras and sensor modules using its technology. The fabless company also plans to expand to high-speed SerDes and broaden target markets to include mobile phones, servers, communications, and industrial. Funds will be used for R&D, business expansion, and to expand its product portfolio to ADAS and related sensor modules. Founded in 2018, it is based in Ningbo, China.

Network architecture — domain, zonal
iStarChip drew nearly CNY 100.0M (~$14.0M) in angel funding led by Sunic Capital in June 2023. iStarChip develops automotive-grade MCUs and basic software for various domain and zonal controllers, including power, chassis, engine, motor, and BMS. The startup says its chips meet ISO 26262 ASIL-D, ISO/SAE 21434, and AEC-Q100 Grade 1 specifications. Founded in 2022, it is based in Jiaxing, China.

Ethernovia closed a $64.0M Series A round from Porsche SE, Qualcomm Ventures, VentureTech Alliance, AMD Ventures, Western Digital Capital, Fall Line Capital, Taiwania Capital, ENEA Capital, and others in March 2023. Ethernovia is developing automotive network architectures and highly integrated Ethernet chips with high bandwidth and advanced security solutions for the energy-efficient processing of large amounts of data in software-defined vehicles. In combination with software, the startup says its data transport and acceleration technology helps enable consolidation of numerous single-domain ECUs into a smaller number of higher performance multi-domain ECUs, along with providing benefits for ADAS, autonomous driving, and over-the-air software updates. Founded in 2018, it is based in San Jose, California, USA.

Meritech Integrated Circuits received nearly CNY 100.0M (~$14.0M) in Series A financing led by Nio Capital and Hua Capital, joined by Lightspeed China Partners and others in June 2023. MTIC makes analog and mixed-signal chips for automotive. Its products include signal chain chips and automotive SerDes for in-vehicle displays and on-board cameras. Founded in 2021, it is based in Beijing, China.

Rsemi Technology raised over CNY 50.0M (~$7.3M) in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital China, Winreal Investment, Oceanpine Capital, and others in March 2023. Rsemi develops automotive SerDes chips for transmission of high-speed video signals from automotive sensors to domain controllers, and from domain controllers to display screens. It expects to enter mass production this year. Funds will be used for business expansion, R&D, marketing, and hiring. Founded in 2022, it is based in Nanjing, China.

Computing, AI chips

Kneron added $49.0M to its Series B round from investors including Foxconn Co-GP Fund and Alltek, bringing the round to $97.0M in September 2023. Kneron provides AI SoC processors based on the company’s reconfigurable NPU architecture and integrated software solutions for on-device edge AI inferencing. It supports both CNNs and transformers. Kneron’s latest chip is an auto-grade NPU that supports lightweight GPT LLMs and applies transformers to image-based applications to process time-series and consider image data holistically, an approach the company claims improves the accuracy of image-based applications by at least 30%. Funds will be used to accelerate the deployment of advanced AI, focusing on nano GPT solutions for automotive. Founded 2015, it is based in San Diego, California, USA.

Automotive sensors

A key strategy for fully autonomous vehicles is the ability to fuse together inputs from multiple sensors, which is essential for making safe and secure decisions, but it’s turning out to be much harder than first imagined. Multiple problems need to be solved, including how to partition, prioritize, and ultimately combine different types of data, and how to architect the processing within a vehicle so that it can make decisions based on those various data types quickly enough to avoid accidents. There is no single best practice for how to achieve that, which is why many automotive OEMs are taking very different approaches. It also helps explain why there are no fully autonomous vehicles on the road today.[ii]

That data is coming from different sensor systems — visual light cameras, lidar, radar, even acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS).

Sensor fusion, which combines the information from different sensors to better understand the vehicle environment, continues to be an active area of research.

“Each type of sensor has limitations,” said Thierry Kouthon, technical product manager for security IP at Rambus. “Cameras are excellent for object recognition but provide poor distance information, and image processing requires substantial computing resources. In contrast, lidar and radar provide excellent distance information but poor definition. Additionally, lidar does not work well in poor weather conditions.”[iii]

Startup funding in 2023 focused on lidar, to make it cheaper, less heavy, smaller, and more accurate. The cost of the sensor systems is making automotive designers sometimes stick with one technology, such as Tesla and the camera system, or a combination of two technologies.

Sensor fusion
Aspinity drew $5.0M in Series B funding from current investors Anzu Partners, Birchmere Ventures, Mountain State Capital, Riverfront Ventures, and new investor Unitrontech in September 2023. Aspinity designed an analog machine learning core that it says enables always-on sensing solutions at near-zero power that detect and inference from raw, analog sensor data. To lower power, it keeps the MCU and other digital processors asleep until meaningful data are detected. As part of the deal, Aspinity and Unitrontech plan to work together on aftermarket and integrated AI solutions for automotive applications. Founded in 2015, it is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and has raised over $19M to date.

Grayscale AI focuses on AI and neuromorphic vision for automotive. See Grayscale AI in navigation section below.

Nullmax offers a camera-based perception system; full-stack applications and middleware for perception, planning, and control; and cloud-based vehicle data management. See Nullmax under ADAS.

LFC Semiconductor plans to release an ASIL-B power management chip for automotive cameras and sensor modules using its technology (see LFC under Clock).

Lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging, calculates the distance of an object by sending out laser pulses that bounce back to the lidar unit (time of flight). Some lidar units use different wavelengths, such as 850nm, 905nm, 940nm, and 1550nm. Lidar traditionally has been one of in two types — time-of-flight lidar that calculates distance or frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) lidar, which uses different wavelengths.

In autonomous vehicles and ADAS, lidar promises better accuracy at identifying objects than radar, and often in 3D. Radar works better in adverse weather conditions, such as snow, rain and fog, but lidar more accurately measures an object’s size and shape. FMCW lidar also has velocity data so it can provide data that can be used for predicting the trajectory of objects, to avoid spending compute resources on stationary objects.

Solid-state lidar is the latest trend, versus mechanical. Mechanical uses spinning parts, whereas solid-state is stationary and is usually more compact systems. The Yole predicts fully solid state lidars may be in use by 2035.

Lidar is a complicated beast. “A lidar has two jobs to perform: measure distance (ranging) and steering a light (scanning), and it’s a complex system that integrates electronics, optics, integrated photonics, advanced software algorithms for signal processing with the rigor of industrial quality and automotive cost and scale,” writes Federico Collarte, CEO and co-founder of the startup Baraja. A single chip for lidar is not practical. In lidar, chips range from “silicon chips using CMOS processes typically used for electronics, or silica glass chips used to miniaturize optics like lenses and prisms used to steer light, or photonic chips using silicon, germanium, indium-phosphide (InP), or gallium-arsenide to combine or modulate light, convert electrical currents into light (Tx) or vice versa (Rx). So, for a solution to be truly powerful you’d need to take to the chip level all of these sub-systems.”

Baraja (founded in 2015, headquartered in Australia) announced its compact lidar modules, called Doppler RMCW Spectrum-Scan LiDAR, in November 2023. RMCW stands for random modulation continuous wave. (Baraja was not on 2023’s funding list. It announced funding from Veoneer in January 2023, though is it unclear how much.)

Baraja’s lidar system integrates different types of chips performing different functions into three compact modules. Semiconductor Optical Amplifier (SOA) has an amplifier chip with a Thermo-electric cooler — it does the light amplification. The Bidirectional Optical Sub-Assembly (BOSA) has an InP laser chip, the homodyne receiver chip (silicon photonics), and the TIA chips (silicon) — it preforms the light emission and reception. The steering is performed by Spectrum-Scan, which uses the laser’s changing wavelength with dispersive optics (prisms built with silica glass) to steer the light onto different angles based on the wavelength of the light. The optics can also capture light on the return. “It inherently builds a spatial and wavelength optical filter that prevents interference from sunlight and other LiDAR sources,” writes Collarte. The company gave up on making its own ASICs and is using SoCs from a chip manufacturer.

The complexity of lidar has made costs high but the semiconductor industry is looking for solutions. “The main challenge for the mass adoption of lidar by automotive OEMs is bringing down the cost of lidar sensors and possibly making them comparable to radar. The price of lidar devices has decreased significantly in the last few years; however, there’s a scope to make it more competitive. Many factors are driving the cost up, such as R&D, material and production cost, and lower production volumes,” writes Keysight’s Chaimaa Aarab.

The cost may be going down, and the market going up. The lidar market for automotive and industrial applications will reach $6.3B in 2027 from $2.1B in 2021, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) will be 22% between 2022 – 2027, predicts Yole Group. China may have ½ of the world’s lidar design wins. “China has not only developed high-quality LiDAR technology and LiDAR factories, but also a complete ecosystem including semiconductor components, software, and integrators,” according to Yole.

Adaps Photonics raised CNY 100.0M (~$14.6M) in a Series C+ round from CoStone Capital and others in February 2023. Adaps Photonics develops single photon avalanche detector (SPAD) direct time-of-flight (dToF) sensor chips for applications such as mobile phones, smart home, AR/VR, robots, and automotive lidar and cockpit sensing. Its current products include chips, modules, and silicon photon multipliers. Based in Shenzhen, China, it was founded in 2018.

Fortsense received a strategic investment from Chery Automobile in April 2023. The company develops optical sensing chips, including 3D structured light chips for under-screen fingerprint sensors and time-of-flight (ToF) sensors for facial recognition in mobile devices. Fortsense is current developing single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) lidar chips for automotive applications. Founded in 2017, it is based in Shenzhen, China.

Lumotive raised $13.0M in strategic funding led by Samsung Ventures, joined by insurance and financial company USAA, electronics distributor Uniquest, and others in January 2023. Lumotive develops optical semiconductor devices for solid-state 3D sensors like lidar. The startup says its Light Control Metasurface (LCM) beam steering chips can steer light in any pattern across the field of view and enable software-defined lidar with advanced perception capabilities. It uses conventional CMOS and VCSEL manufacturing processes and can scale from small near-range lidar to high-performance long-range. Its chips target lidar systems for consumer, automotive, industrial, and other markets involving autonomous systems. “This additional funding will accelerate the deployment of the current generation of LCM chips and the development of the next generation of our product,” said Sam Heidari, CEO of Lumotive. Founded in 2017 and based in Redmond, Washington, USA, it has raised $56M to date.

Omnitron Sensors recently announced its microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) step-scanning mirror, to be manufactured at Silex Microsystems’ foundry. The MEMS mirror aligns to a lidar system’s sub-micron-level tolerances without constant recalibration, according to the company. Omnitron streamlined the silicon process steps to reduce pain points in manufacturing, which lowers the cost of volume manufacturing. Co-founded in 2019 by Eric Aguilar who worked at U.S. Navy Research Labs, Tesla, Google, and Argo AI, Omnitron Sensors is headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif.

SiLC Technologies drew $25.0M in funding from new strategic investors Hokuyo Automatic, Hankook & Company, and ROHM Semiconductor, alongside existing investors including Epson, Yamato Holdings, UMC Capital, Sony, Dell Technologies Capital, and Alter Venture Partners, in November 2023. SiLC offers silicon photonic vision chips based on FMCW lidar. Its chips integrate all photonics functions needed to enable a coherent 4D vision sensor and support vision detection capabilities that span from short distances to over 1 km. It targets a range of applications, including robotics, autonomous vehicles, biometrics, security, and industrial automation. Founded in 2018, it is based in Monrovia, California, USA, and has raised $56M to date.

Siliconroad Semiconductor raised pre-Series A funding from Oriza Holdings, Haiwang Capital, and power semi maker Chipown Microelectronics in August 2023. The startup is developing a range of analog automotive chips, including for lidar, optical communications, RF, and instrumentation products. Founded in 2022, it is based in Suzhou, China.

Radar is an object-detection technology used for blind-spot detection and other safety features in vehicles, and can be used in fully automated driving systems. Radar transmits electromagnetic waves in the millimeter range. The wave signals bounce off objects and are then reflected back. The radar system then captures signals to discern the range, velocity and angle of an object.[iv]

For ADAS and automated driving systems, a low-cost radar can handle bad weather cases, such as foggy or rainy conditions, but adding the radar does make an automotive more expensive.

Muye Microelectronics (Muyewei) raised CNY 100.0M (~$14.5M) in a pre-Series A round from 5Y Capital, Redpoint China Ventures, Co-win Ventures, and Yiling Capital in April 2023. Muyewei also received pre-Series A+ financing from WestSummit Capital and Yilai Capital, following up a pre-A round in April in June 2023. The startup makes 4D millimeter wave imaging radar chips for automotive applications. Muyewei says its solution can detect and distinguish different objects up to a distance of 300 meters. Founded in 2021, it is based in Shenzhen, China.

Bynav Technology raised hundreds of millions of yuan (CNY 100.0M is ~$14.0M) in strategic financing that included Bosch Venture Capital, Great Wall Motor’s Great Wall Capital, Xpeng Motors’ Rockets Capital, Geely’s Xingyuan Capital, F&G Venture, CoStone Capital, and CICC Capital in June 2023. Bynav develops high precision GNSS/INS positioning SoCs, ASICs, and modules, as well as GNSS signal processing algorithms, real-time kinematic positioning (RTK) algorithms, and combined navigation and visual fusion algorithms for automotive, surveying and mapping, IoT, and GIS data acquisition. Founded in 2013, it is based in Changsha, China.

Grayscale AI was admitted to the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) Acceleration Programme by NATO in November 2023, which gives the company access to resources, mentorships, and funding opportunities. The company uses low-power AI computing and neuromorphic vision to speed up customers’ existing automotive vision systems technology. With expertise in real-time localization and mapping, sensor fusion, and visual motion estimation, Grayscale received VC backing from Techstars, USD $50K from the US Army’s xTech program, and a UK government grant (GBP 100,000) for neuromorphic vision testing. Starting out on autonomous drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), then moving to autonomous robots and autonomous cars, the company offers on-board neuromorphic vision solutions, which the company says produces faster reaction times using its autonomous driverless AI. Founded in 2020, Grayscale AI is based in London in the United Kingdom.

KiSilicon Technology raised nearly CNY 100.0M (~$14.3M) in Series B financing led by Harvest Capital and joined by Everest VC in May 2023. KiSilicon develops high-precision positioning chips that combine GNSS with inertial navigation system (IMS) sensors. It targets automotive and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Funds will be used for R&D and market expansion of automotive chips. Founded in 2021, it is based in Beijing, China.

MZJ Sensor received tens of millions of yuan (CNY 10.0M is ~$1.5M) in angel funding from Northern Light Venture Capital in April 2023. The startup makes high-precision, high-pressure automotive pressure sensor chips. Funds will be used for development of new sensor products and the establishment of mass production lines. Founded in 2022, it is based in Changzhou, China.

Senasic raised over CNY 500.0M (~$70.1M) in Series D funding from the China State-owned Enterprise Mixed Ownership Reform Fund, GAC Capital, CD Capital, GGV Capital, Geely Capital, China ICV, and others in July 2023. Senasic develops automotive sensors and monitoring chips, including integrated tire pressure monitors, battery pressure sensor monitors, temperature and pressure sensor interface chips, and sensor controllers. Founded in 2015, it is based in Nanjing, China.

See Xlink Semiconductor under Power Delivery above. Xlink Semi primarily focuses on mixed-signal power amplifiers for automotive applications, including entertainment systems, external audio for EVs, and acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS).

Driver controls, cockpit, infotainment, V2X

Boréas Technologies received $12.0M in Series B financing in November 2023. The company makes ultra-low-power piezo haptic semiconductors. Its piezoelectric actuator drivers support localized haptic feedback as well as integrated force sensing for applications such as smartphones, trackpads, wearables, and automotive. The drivers include an energy-recovery capability to provide power savings in resource-constrained devices. Founded in 2016, it is based in Bromont, Québec, Canada.

Genesys Microelectronics raised hundreds of millions of yuan (CNY 100.0M is ~$14.5M) in a pre-Series A round led by Hefei Industry Investment Group and Hefei Hi-tech VC, joined by VeriSilicon in March 2023. Genesys Microelectronics is developing chips for automotive smart cockpits and ADAS. Based in Shanghai, China, it was founded as a spin off from Fosun International in January 2022.

iGentAI Computing Technology received tens of millions of yuan (CNY 10.0M is ~$1.5M) in strategic financing from Intretech in February 2023. iGentAI provides a range of modules, chips, and software for smart cars. Its products include in-vehicle infotainment, ADAS, automotive Ethernet, inertial navigation, digital instrumentation, and V2X systems. Founded in 2005, it is based in Shenzhen, China.

Mojo Vision added $21.1M in closing its Series A round led New Enterprise Associates, Khosla Ventures, and Vanedge Capital, with participation from Shanda Grab Ventures, Dolby Family Ventures, Advantech Capital, Liberty Global Ventures, Fusion Fund, Open Field Capital, and Knollwood Investment Fund, bringing the round to $43.5M in October 2023. Mojo Vision is developing high-performance microLED technology to create dynamic displays with up to 28,000 pixels per inch and high brightness. The technology combines high-efficiency quantum-dot ink and a display system that incorporates an optimized CMOS backplane, wafer-to-wafer bonding, and custom micro-lens optics using a high-volume manufacturing process based on 300mm gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si). Applications include AR/VR, automotive, light field display, and large format displays. Previously, the company was working on a smart contact lens, and is now focused on commercializing the microLED technology behind it. Founded in 2015, it is based in Saratoga, California, USA.

Oritek Semiconductor received hundreds of millions of yuan (CNY 100.0M is ~$14.6M) in a Series A1 round from CMG-SDIC Capital Management, Shang Qi Capital, SND Ventures Group, Sunic Capital, Forebright Capital, and Qingke Capital in February 2023. Oritek is developing smart car chips and solutions, including for smart review mirrors and headlights, zone controllers, and parking. Based in Shenzhen, China, it was founded in 2021.

SiEngine Technology announced raising nearly CNY 500.0M (~$72.5M) in a Series A+ round from Teda Venture Capital, Haier Capital, SPDB International Holdings, Wuhan S&T Investment Company, Tongxi Capital, and existing investors Grandsyn Capital, Yuexiu Fund, and Vision Knight Capital in February 2023. The round was completed in the fourth quarter of last year, making it the company’s third in 2022. SiEngine develops automotive SoCs. It currently offers a smart cockpit SoC for in-vehicle infotainment and multimedia based on a 7nm process. The startup is also working on autonomous driving, ADAS, and central computing chips. Funds will be used for mass production of its cockpit chip, as well as for R&D, tape-out, and market launch of new and iterative products. Founded in 2018 as a collaboration between Arm China and Geely-affiliated Ecarx Holdings, it is based in Wuhan, China.

SPARK Microsystems raised CAD$34.0M (~$24.7M) in Series B funding, with an additional CAD$14.0M (~$10.2M) available subject to meeting operational milestones in March 2023. The round was led by Idealist Capital and joined by existing investors Cycle Capital, Economic Development Canada, Real Ventures, and ND Capital. SPARK Microsystems is a fabless company developing ultra-wideband (UWB) wireless transceiver ICs for short-range wireless connectivity. The startup says its UWB technology provides high data rate and very low latency while reducing energy consumption for a broad range of consumer, industrial, IoT, and automotive products. “SPARK’s UWB technology holds tremendous promise for battery-less, wireless devices powered by energy harvesting technologies,” said Steeve Robitaille, co-managing partner, Idealist Capital. Founded in 2016, it is based in Quebec, Quebec, Canada.

Chiplego Technology is also targeting cockpit (see ADAS section). Xlink Semiconductor makes mixed-signal power amplifiers for automotive applications, including entertainment systems. (See power delivery section.)

Security, reliability, and safety-critical

Shanghai Thinktech drew new financing from Yufu Holding in August 2023. Thinktech offers automotive security SoCs and software with a focus on connected vehicles and applications such as vehicle-cloud encryption certification, security on-board communication encryption certification, and V2X message authentication. It also makes general-purpose automotive MCUs and RISC-V IP cores for automotive applications. Founded in 2017, it is based in Shanghai, China.

Uni-Sentry raised tens of millions of yuan (CNY 10.0M is ~$1.4M) in angel funding led by Simic Capital and Haoyang Venture Capital in August 2023. Uni-Sentry provides hardware security modules (HSM) for automotive domain controllers. It also offers an ISO 21434 toolchain and compliance testing platform, vehicle security penetration testing, and GNSS anti-spoofing protection. Founded in 2021, it is based in Shanghai, China.

Zero-Error Systems (ZES) raised $2.5M from the Dart Family Office in January 2023. The startup makes high-reliability ICs for applications such as space, automotive, aviation, robotics, and IoT. Its products include monolithic radiation-hardened latchup detection and protection (LDAP) ICs to detect and protect Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) ICs against single event latchup (SEL), radiation hardened by design (RHBD) library cells, power management solutions, and reliability testing services. A spin out from Nanyang Technological University Singapore founded in 2019, it is based in Singapore.

Automated driving systems: ADAS, ASIL 2 – 5

The swirl of activity around ASIL L4 and L5 vehicles has yet to result in a successful demonstration of an autonomous vehicle that can navigate the streets of a city or highway without incident, and there is a growing body of real-world data showing that much work still needs to be done. Robo-taxi trials in big cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and soon San Diego, are proving that autonomous vehicles are a monumental work in progress.[v]

At a high level, ADAS consists of sensors, processors, and actuators. Processors can include one or more ECUs that process the signals coming from various sensors, such as cameras, lidar, radar, and ultrasonic sensors, and control the actuator to perform the appropriate functions. For example, when sensors detect a large object on the freeway, the ADAS will activate the emergency braking system to quickly slow down the vehicle. Likewise, when sensors detect another vehicle cutting into the same lane without warning, the ADAS either will slow down or quickly and safely change lanes to avoid a possible collision.

If the ADAS performs flawlessly, together with other technologies such as V2X and/or 5G, the vehicles will drive far more safely than humans do. However, what continues to be challenging is the possibility of undetected ADAS flaws and vulnerabilities to cyberattacks.

The startups that drew funding in 2023 for ADAS and automated driving worked on SoCs, chiplets, DSPs, network processor IP for edge inferencing, and machine learning chips, among others.

BOS Semiconductors was awarded up to 1,100.0M won (~$0.8M) over three years from the Korean Ministry of SMEs and Startups through the Super Gap Startup 1000+ Project in May 2023 and raised 2000.0M won (~$1.5M) in funding from Hyundai Motor and Kia Corporation in June 2023. BOS designs Arm-based SoCs for a range of automotive applications, including ADAS and autonomous driving, automotive gateways, and infotainment systems. Hyundai and Kia plan to collaborate with BOS on development of customized semiconductors for electric and self-driving vehicles. Founded in 2022, it is based in Pangyo, South Korea.

Chiplego Technology received financing from Changzhou Kechuang Nursery Fund in June 2023. Chiplego is using chiplets to design high-performance chips for smart vehicles. The startup has developed its own high-bandwidth, low-latency interconnect technology and what it calls an embedded HPC architecture. It is targeting both cockpit and intelligent driving functions. Founded in 2021, it is based in Shanghai, China.

VSORA raised $4.2M in financing in January 2023 led by Otium Capital, joined by existing and angel investors, and a $13.2M in grant and equity funding from the European Innovation Council Accelerator in November 2023. VSORA develops silicon IP and chips for ADAS and autonomous driving at L2+ through L5. The startup says its multicore digital signal processor (DSP) and deep learning accelerator architecture eliminates the need for additional DSP co-processors and AI hardware accelerators, while providing a software level of flexibility. In addition to support for CNN and RNN, its Tyr chip family is also capable of handling newer types of algorithms, such as transformers, BEVformer, and federated learning. “Tyr has the ability to provide up to two PetaFlops processing power with superior implementation efficiency reaching more than 80%, combined with a power consumption less than 10W,” said Khaled Maalej, VSORA CEO. While the primary focus is automotive, it is also targeting signal processing for digital communications systems including 5G. In 2023, VSORA introduced a chiplet-based scalable accelerator solution for generative AI inference with an architecture it claims enables data to be fed to the processing units 100% of the time regardless of the number of compute elements. It is also targeting signal processing for digital communications systems. Founded in 2015, it is based in Meudon-La-Forêt, France.

EdgeCortix raised $20.0M in funding led by SBI Investment and Global Hands-On VC, joined by Renesas Electronics, Cycle Group, and Monozukuri Ventures in October 2023. EdgeCortix provides scalable, run-time reconfigurable neural network processor IP for edge inference. It has implemented the IP in an edge AI co-processor designed using an AI hardware and software co-exploration process. The startup also offers a compiler and software framework for developing edge AI inference applications from modeling to deployment. It targets power and mobility-sensitive devices like aerial, underwater, or ground-based vehicles, smart city, smart manufacturing, visual processing, and 5G-AI integrated systems. Founded in 2019, it is based in Tokyo, Japan.

Huixi Technology, also known as Rhino Auto, raised hundreds of millions of yuan (CNY 100.0M is ~$13.9M) in strategic financing led by automotive electronics company Jingwei Hirain, joined by Everest VC, TI Capital, 37 Interactive Entertainment, and Lianxing Capital in July 2023 and raised hundreds of millions of yuan (CNY 100.0M is ~$14.6M) in angel+ financing led by Shunwei Capital and Xiaomi Group, joined by Cathay Capital, MiraclePlus, GSR Ventures, Tsinghua Research Capital, Z&Y Capital, and others in February 2023. The startup is developing AI chips for autonomous driving and ADAS, targeting L2+ and above. Huixi uses what it calls a ‘data-loop defined silicon’ approach that it claims enables creation of more efficient silicon and faster algorithm iteration. It expects its first chip to enter mass production in 2024. Huixi and Jingwei Hirain plan to collaborate on automated driving technology for urban areas. Founded in 2022, it is based in Hefei, China.

Nullmax raised CNY 780.0 (~$106.8M) in Series B financing led by Shanghai Stonehill Technology in October 2023. Nullmax develops machine learning chips for L2/3 and L4 driving and parking functions in passenger vehicles. It also offers a camera-based perception system; full-stack applications and middleware for perception, planning, and control; and cloud-based vehicle data management. Founded in 2016, it is based in Shanghai, China.

EVAS Intelligence drew over CNY 100.0M (~$14.0M) in pre-Series A+ financing from Guangzhou Nansha Kejin Holding Group and Lion Partners Capital in December 2023. EVAS Intelligence develops RISC-V-based neural processing unit (NPU) and image signal processor (ISP) IP and SoCs for automotive. The startup is preparing to launch two chips, one focused on intelligent cockpit and the other on ADAS. It also offers algorithms and a software toolchain. Funds will be used for mass production. Based in Guangzhou, China, it was founded in January 2022.

Quarterly & regional

– Susan Rambo contributed to this report.


[i] Peters, Laura. “Power Semis Usher In The Silicon Carbide Era,” Semiconductor Engineering, August 21, 2023,

[ii] Mutschler, Ann. “Confusion Grows Over Sensor Fusion In Autos,” Semiconductor Engineering, July 6, 2023,

[iii] Koon, John. “Autonomous Vehicles: Not Ready Yet,” Semiconductor Engineering, November 27, 2023,

[iv] LaPedus, Mark. “Radar Versus LiDAR,” Semiconductor Engineering, October 23, 2017,

[v] Koon, John. Ibid “Autonomous Vehicles: Not Ready Yet

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