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Venture Investor to Back Semiconductor Start-Ups

Circuit board illustration

(Roman, Pixabay.

7 Dec. 2022. A technology investment company is partnering with a Silicon Valley incubator program to support start-up businesses developing new types of semiconductors. Mayfield Fund in Menlo Park, California is providing early financing to new enterprises taking part in the semiconductor start-up accelerator offered by Silicon Catalyst in Santa Clara, California.

For the past few years, chip designers have come up against limits in the circuit capacity of semiconductors, which earlier seemed limitless, according to Moore’s Law, named for Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel Corp. Moore predicted in 1965 that transistor circuits on chips were shrinking a rate that enabled the number of transistors to double each year on a single chip. In 1975, says MIT Technology Review, Moore amended that prediction to doubling of transistor capacity every two years. Since that time, the demand for smaller and more powerful digital circuitry has grown markedly, with the proliferation of mobile devices, Internet of Things, embedded chips in vehicles, and many other industrial and home applications.

Silicon Catalyst seeks to provide training and support for scientists and engineers meeting this challenge with new semiconductor-based solutions, to turn their ideas into successful businesses with marketable products and services. The Silicon Catalyst curriculum takes entrepreneurs through market analysis and strategy, intellectual property and related legal issues such as licensing, raising capital and financial management, recruitment and team building, and company leadership. The program, says Silicon Catalyst, is designed for participants to follow at their own pace, noting that many of its participants are experienced mid-career technologists, but new to entrepreneurship.

Silicon Catalyst says it works with universities to help spin off research into new businesses. The company says it also provides internships with portfolio businesses as well as commercialization and investment expertise when needed. Silicon Catalyst lists start-ups in its portfolio spun-off from MIT, Stanford, University of California in Santa Barbara, and University of Montreal.

16th inception-stage fund

Mayfield Fund is a venture investor in operation since 1969 supporting technology start-ups in semiconductors, but also enterprise, consumer, and health technologies. The fund invests mainly in early-stage businesses, with most of its investments in seed and first venture rounds, called series A. Mayfield says it’s now investing in start-ups from its 16th inception-stage fund totaling $475 million, with another $400 million allocated for financing later rounds. The fund says it has invested in 500 companies, leading to 120 initial public offerings and 225 mergers and acquisitions.

In the collaboration with Silicon Catalyst, Mayfield plans to make seed-stage investments as well as provide mentoring to most new companies admitted to the Silicon Catalyst incubator. Mayfield says it expects to finance start-ups working in photonics, sensors, micro-electromechanical systems or MEMS, advanced materials, and life science applications.

Silicon Catalyst CEO Pete Rodriguez says in a company statement that “most seed stage companies will be eligible to receive $150K at admission into the Silicon Catalyst program as a result of our alliance with Mayfield.” In addition, says Silicon Catalyst, semiconductor start-ups will be eligible to apply for another $250,000 from Silicon Catalyst Angels, the incubator’s investment arm.

Navin Chaddha, a managing partner at Mayfield adds, “It is an honor to partner with Silicon Catalyst to nurture the wave of entrepreneurs bringing silicon back to Silicon Valley.”

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