SAN JOSE, Calif. — Silicon Catalyst added ON Semiconductor as a partner and two new startups to the dozen that it incubates. The accelerator, focused on semiconductor startups, hopes to expand its geographic footprint in January and launch its first graduates soon.
Like most of its partners, ON Semi joined Silicon Catalyst to get a better view of its pipeline of startups. The incubator screens hundreds of startups every year to select a handful that become portfolio companies, getting access to EDA and test tools and services from partners, including a shuttle run at TSMC.
“My role is to look outside the company and fill innovation and technology gaps,” said Mamoon Rashid, senior vice president of strategic ventures at ON Semi. “This partnership gives us a view of the semiconductor startup environment … there are a lot of incubators in software, but not a lot in semiconductors.”
Not surprisingly, one of Silicon Catalyst’s newest startups is designing an accelerator for machine learning, an area that has reawakened an otherwise sleepy area of venture investing in silicon.
Xceler Systems Inc. is designing an FPGA-like graph processor, promising substantially lower power than alternative chips for supervised and unsupervised learning. It eventually aims to make it based on the RISC-V architecture.
Silicon Catalyst’s other new startup, Power Down Semiconductors, developed a process to recycle charge and prevent power losses in chips and displays. It focuses on the market for consumer electronics devices such as smartphones.
Also in the Silicon Catalyst portfolio are the following startups with their products:
- ACP Semi: Smart, integrated LEDs
- Aeponyx: MEMS-based silicon photonics switches
- Ayar Labs: Optical I/O blocks made in CMOS
- Chaos Prime: An IoT radio to withstand factory interference
- ClopTech: A 60-GHz radio
- Rex Computing: A parallel processor
- Spark Microsystems: A low-power IoT radio
- Zeno: Designer of a 1T SRAM
The company, announced in late 2014, takes 10% to 12% in equity in exchange for incubating startups for two years, providing them tools, services, connections, and mentoring.
“We have three companies nearing their two-year anniversary date, so we have to figure out how we do graduation,” said Rick Lazansky, Silicon Catalyst’s chief executive.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times