Electronic Products & Technology

Incubator for semiconductor solution start-ups launched

EP&T Magazine   

Electronics Semiconductors

Calling itself the industry’s first incubator for semiconductor solution start-ups – Silicon Catalyst was officially launched this week. Focused exclusively on semiconductor solutions, the group joins an existing array of incubators and accelerators for software and even some for hardware.

Silicon Catalyst will address the challenges faced by start-ups when going from idea to company formation to prototype, along with the industry-wide concern about the lack of fund-worthy start-ups to drive novel innovation and growth.

The Silicon Catalyst model is unique:

* Build a coalition of companies to help start-ups reduce the complexity of semiconductor innovation


* Incubate a select number of start-ups each year and provide them the tools and support needed to get to work, rather than spend precious time hunting for funding

* Assemble a world-class network of mentors to guide these entrepreneurs

Key to the Silicon Catalyst business model is providing access to mentors who believe it is in the interest of the entire industry to support start-ups. The first of these mentoring companies include EDA and IP provider Synopsys; test & measurement equipment company Keysight; and pure-play semiconductor foundry TSMC.

In addition to these companies, Silicon Catalyst is in discussions to add to its rapidly expanding network with companies from the semiconductor ecosystem ranging from enablement to fabless to systems companies that will help mentor qualified start-ups admitted to the incubator.

“A vibrant start-up community is a valuable component in the development of any business and the multi-trillion-dollar industries that we enable,” comments Aart de Geus, chairman and co-CEO, Synopsys. “Synopsys is proud to be a Silicon Catalyst founding partner to support semiconductor solution start-ups.”

“Since the very beginning of Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs such as Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard have started small companies with large dreams,” adds Todd Cutler, general manager of Keysight EEsof EDA. “Keysight is proud to help the next generation of entrepreneurs launch towards achieving their dreams.”

“The launch of this startup incubator parallels TSMC’s emphasis on a ‘Grand Alliance’ of collaborating companies in the semiconductor industry to increase innovation,” said Rick Cassidy, President, TSMC North America. “TSMC is pleased to join the efforts of Silicon Catalyst to help the next wave of fabless semiconductor start-ups achieve success.”

Industry veterans support silicon innovators

Silicon Catalyst’s managing team is made up of semiconductor industry veterans who saw the need for a new approach to helping entrepreneurs make their ideas a reality. They have brought their experience and network together to launch this venture. They are:

* Mike Noonen, board director at Ambiq Micro, Adapteva and Kilopass, formerly EVP at GlobalFoundries and NXP Semiconductors, Global Semiconductor Alliance board director and National Semiconductor executive.

* Dan Armbrust, formerly CEO of Sematech and IBM Microelectronics manufacturing executive.

* Rick Lazansky, board director Sand Hill Angels; Board Director i-GATE Innovation Hub; serial entrepreneur and founder Vantage Analysis Systems, Denali Software; former VP of Engineering at Xpedion Design Systems, acquired by Agilent.

Traditional investors have mostly abandoned early stage semiconductor investing however, Silicon Catalyst and its partners believe this is one of the most exciting times to be innovating with semiconductors. The reason is that the mega-trend opportunities in IoT, biotech, wearables, energy, transportation, and mobile will all have new semiconductor innovation at their core. In addition, most of these markets do not require leading-edge technologies and enormous R&D budgets to create novel and valuable products.

Furthermore, since upfront costs are reduced, start-ups will become much better investments and follow-on funding will go to true innovation and value creation. Silicon Catalyst expects to see renewed interest from angel, strategic and venture investors as a result.

Silicon Catalyst operations are expected to begin in Silicon Valley, California in the first quarter of 2015. Startups are anticipated to come from not just Silicon Valley but from all around the world. Silicon Catalyst plans to collaborate with local incubators to enable these entrepreneurs to leverage the Silicon Catalyst partner resources without needing to relocate. In this way, Silicon Catalyst plans to be a gateway to Silicon Valley’s robust resources and customers while keeping innovation frugal and successful.


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