Entrepreneurship

Startup Funding: June 2021

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June was the month of mega-rounds for autonomous driving companies, with three pulling in well over $100M. All three are based in China, but their products range from chips to full robotaxi services. Also in the automotive space, an EV battery manufacturer raised over $2B, a solid-state lidar developer drew $300M — and those are just the largest rounds. Plus, new HPC architectures, GAA metrology equipment, and FPGA prototyping in this month’s look at 29 startups that collectively raised over $4.5B.

Semi & design
NextSilicon raised $120.0M in Series C funding led by Third Point Ventures and joined by Playground Global, Aleph, Schusterman Foundation, Amiti Ventures, Liberty Technology Venture Capital, and individual investor Yuval Ariav. The company is working on high-performance computing chips using a custom architecture that leverages software algorithms to speed up compute-intensive operations. NextSilicon says it is working with several supercomputing centers and is expecting to complete chip development in the coming year. The company is also planning a hiring push with the funding. Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, and founded in 2018, it has raised over $170M to date.

Ventana Micro Systems raised $35.0M in venture funding. The startup is developing a family of high-performance RISC-V CPU cores and compute subsystems. Founded in 2018, it is based in San Jose, Calif.

SimScale raised €25.0M (~$29.6M) in venture funding led by Insight Partners. The company provides a web-based platform for engineering simulation, including computational fluid dynamics (CFD), finite element analysis (FEA), and thermal simulation tools. Based in Munich, Germany, SimScale was founded in 2012.

EDA and IP company Corigine drew $10.0M in pre-Series A funding from Amlogic, SIG, SBCVC, Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment, Softbank China & India Holdings, and Yimei Capital. Corigine has developed an FPGA-based prototyping platform for early software development, system validation, and regression testing. The company also offers a range of USB IP as well as other connectivity and networking IP. Founded in 2015, it is based in Santa Clara, Calif., and China.

Materials startup Porotech raised £3.0M (~$4.2M) in venture funding led by Speedinvest with participation from previous investors IQ Capital, Cambridge Enterprise, Martlet Capital, and Cambridge Angels. The company’s focus is porous gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors, which have holes tens of nanometers in diameter and can fit within existing industry processes. Its first product is an indium gallium nitride (InGaN) native red LED epiwafer for micro-LED displays, which have applications in near-eye applications like AR/VR. The startup is currently working to integrate InGaN-based red, green, and blue micro-LEDs for full-color microdisplays. Based in Cambridge, U.K., and founded in 2020 as a spin out from the University of Cambridge, Porotech has raised $6M to date.

AI chip startup SuperMEM drew $1.5M in venture funding. The company is working on an MRAM-based chip for adding AI to IoT devices, with a focus on power efficiency. It is part of the EvoNexus incubator. Founded in 2019, SuperMEM is based in San Diego, Calif.

EDA startup Circuit Mind raised £0.4M (~$0.5M) in seed funding from Deeptech Labs. The startup’s circuit design platform automatically chooses components and generates circuit schematics based on high-level requirements. Circuit Mind is currently working on automatic generation of PCB layouts. Founded in 2018, it is based in London, U.K.

Equipment & manufacturing
Metrology equipment startup Nearfield Instruments drew €17.5M (~$21.4M) in a Series B round from Invest-NL and Innovation Industries. Nearfield Instruments supplies a semiconductor scanning probe microscopy system that can measure 3D surfaces. The company says its Feedforward Trajectory Planner imaging mode can be used for non-destructive in-line process monitoring of 3nm and below gate-all-around FETs (GAA FETs) while a parallel architecture of miniature SPMs increases throughput. The company shipped its first system in December 2020 and is working to bring its second product, for non-destructive subsurface nanoscale metrology, to the market. The funding will be used to develop new metrology techniques and expand staff and infrastructure. Founded in 2016 as a spin-off from research organization TNO and based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, it has raised over $45M.

Forge Nano drew $2.8M in venture funding for its atomic layer deposition (ALD) and particle atomic layer deposition (PALD) platforms for coating powders, objects, and wafers in both R&D and commercial scales. Key markets it targets include batteries, electrodes, catalysts, 3D printing, and thermal fillers, but there are a wide range of other applications. Based in Thornton, Colo., and founded in 2011, it has raised over $23M.

AI software startup Neurala drew $12.0M in venture funding led by Zebra Ventures and Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from Draper Associates, Friulia, AddValue, 360 Capital Partners, Idinvest Partners, BYU Cougar Capital, and industrial investors IMA and Antares Vision. The startup develops computer vision software with a focus on industrial and manufacturing production line quality inspection. The company says its software is applicable to a broad range of industries, including electronic component inspection. Founded in 2013, the Boston, Mass., based company has raised $26M to date.

Quantum computing
Quantum computing startup Pasqal received €25.0M (~$30.4M) in Series A funding led by Quantonation and Bpifrance and joined by Runa Capital, Daphni, Eni Next, and the European Innovation Council Fund. Pasqal has designed a quantum processor in which neutral atoms in large 2D and 3D arrays are manipulated with laser light, which it says offers on-demand access with high connectivity. It is also developing a full computing stack including software tools. The company has one quantum computer in operation and two more in construction. The funding will be used for development of the company’s quantum processors, applications co-design, building a Quantum Computing as a Service hybrid cloud offering, and international expansion. Based in Palaiseau, France, Pasqal was founded in 2019.

C12 Quantum Electronics raised $10.0M in seed funding from 360 Capital, Bpifrance (Digital Venture Fund), Airbus Ventures, BNP Paribas Développement, and individual investor Octave Klaba, with additional grants from Bpifrance and the Ile-de-France Region. The startup is developing a quantum processor based on carbon nanotubes, which it says provides for fewer errors and higher performance. As its qubit, C12 Quantum Electronics uses an ultra-pure carbon nanotube suspended above a silicon chip containing control electrodes and a quantum communication bus. The funding will be used for hiring as well as establishment of a pilot production line with nanotube growth facilities, nano-assembly equipment, and quantum measurement hardware. Founded in 2020, it is based in Paris, France.

Sensors
Hesai raised over $300M in Series D funding led by GL Ventures, Xiaomi, Meituan, and CPE, joined by Huatai Securities, Lightspeed China Partners, Lightspeed Venture Capital, and Qiming Venture Partners. Hesai makes hybrid solid-state lidar sensors for short, medium, and long-range applications. Funds will be put towards mass production, construction of a smart manufacturing center, and R&D for automotive-grade lidar. Founded in 2014, Hesai is based in Shanghai, China.

Biometrics company Isorg raised €16.0M (~$19.0M) in Series C financing from Sumitomo Chemical, Mitsubishi Corporation, Integrated Systems Development, Financière Fonds Privés, and existing investors Bpifrance, New Science Venture, CEA Investment, and Sofimac Group. Isorg makes organic photodiodes for large-area image sensors and biometrics solutions, such as in-screen fingerprint detection. With the funding, the company plans to open a new location in Asia, file for FBI certification of its biometrics modules, and develop several new products including vein recognition. Based in Limoges, France, and founded in 2010, it has raised $58M to date.

Biosensor startup Brolis Sensor Technology raised €15.0M (~$17.8M) in a combination of venture funding led by Zabolis Group and a new venture debt instrument from the European Investment Bank. Brolis is developing a biosensor that can monitor and collect health data such as blood glucose, alcohol, and lactates through the skin. The sensor uses a swept-wavelength laser that shines into tissue capillary networks and interacts with target molecules, with reflected light providing information about the molecule. The startup was spun out in 2018 from Brolis Semiconductors, itself founded in 2011. It is based in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Automotive lidar startup ZVISION Technologies raised “hundreds of millions” CNY (CNY 100M is about $15.5M) in Series B financing from Intel Capital and Sinovation Ventures. The startup makes a solid state MEMS lidar system. Based in Beijing, China, the company was founded in 2017.

Radar startup Zendar raised $8.0M in venture funding. The startup is developing a high-definition radar for automotive applications. Based on technologies initially developed for airplanes and UAV remote sensing, Zendar says its product provides long range, all-weather operation with the resolution of lidar. Founded in 2017 Berkeley, Calif., it has raised over $18M to date.

Atomionics received $2.5M in seed funding led by Wavemaker Partners, SGInnovate, and Cap Vista, with participation from 500 Durians, Apsara Investments, 6th Horizon, and Entrepreneur First. The startup is building a gravity-measuring device based on cold atoms that can pinpoint mineral and hydrocarbon reserves to provide precise navigation and create a universal positioning system that works in places like underground, underwater, and space. Its current product focuses on reducing cost and improving accuracy of underground surveys. Based in Singapore, Atomionics was founded in 2018.

Autonomy
ADAS chipmaker Horizon Robotics closed its Series C round with a total raise of $1.5B, $600.0M previously unreported, with over 35 investors taking part. The company focuses on AI chips for ADAS and autonomous driving applications and currently provides L2 and L3 solutions, with plans to release an inference chip for L4 autonomy later this year. Horizon is also exploring an IPO. Based in Based in Beijing, China, and founded in 2015, it has raised over $2B.

WeRide closed a $310.0M Series C round with funding from Alliance Ventures (the venture capital fund of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance), China Structural Reform Fund, and Pro Capital. The company provides L4 autonomous driving hardware and software and is collaborating with Nissan on R&D and business development. WeRide also offers a robotaxi service in Guangzhou, China, where it is based, and plans to expand to minibuses. Founded in 2017, the company said it has raised over $600M in the last five months.

Zongmu Technology raised a total of $190.0M in Series D rounds led by Denso Corporation, Cowin Capital, Gaoyuan Capital, and Hubei Xiaomi Changjiang Industrial Fund with participation from Liangjiang Capital, Huantaihu Group, Jadex Capital, Industrial Bank, Shanghai S&T Investment, Fosun Group, Legend Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, and others. Zongmu Tech provides ADAS systems for autonomous valet parking and other ADAS applications through a full stack of sensors, controllers, mapping, and cloud services. The company is working with manufacturers, including Xiaomi’s EV efforts, on integrating its technology. Founded in 2013, it is based in Shanghai, China.

Autonomous trucking startup Kodiak Robotics raised an undisclosed amount in a Series B round with participation from BMW i Ventures. The company will use the funds to build a safety case for its technology as well as expansion. Founded in 2018, it is based in Mountain View, Calif.

MooVita received a “multi-million dollar” investment from Yinson Holdings Berhad and SMRT Ventures as part of a Series A round. It is developing driverless vehicles and add-on software and hardware packages that the company says can be used in applications such as first/last mile transportation, logistics, and geofenced areas. Based in Singapore, it was founded in 2016.

EVs
Cell Propulsion drew $2.0M in funding from Endiya Partners, growX Ventures, Huddle Accelerator, and Micelio. The startup makes electric powertrains for light commercial vehicles and buses. They have focused on developing EV components that can handle tropical climate conditions and are working on a powertrain for heavy commercial vehicles. Based in Bengaluru, India, and founded in 2016, Cell Propulsion has raised $4M to date.

Batteries
Northvolt raised a $2.75B private placement led by 4 to 1 Investments, OMERS, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and Volkswagen Group, joined by AMF, ATP, Baillie Gifford, Baron Capital Group, Bridford Investments, Fondaco Growth, IMAS Foundation, EIT InnoEnergy, Norrsken VC, PCS Holding, Scania, Stena Metall Finans, and individual investors Cristina Stenbeck and Daniel Ek. Northvolt makes lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, grid storage, and industrial applications with a focus on recyclability and greener manufacturing. The company plans to expand to 150 GWh of deployed annual production capacity in Europe by 2030 and is also targeting 50% recycled material in new cells by 2030. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, and founded in 2016, Northvolt has raised over $6.5B so far.

Giga Solar Materials Corp received a $36.0M private placement investment from a Foxconn subsidiary. Giga Solar, which manufactures solar cell materials, will work with Foxconn on jointly developing materials for EV batteries. Giga Solar is based in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Supercapacitor startup Skeleton Technologies raised €29.0M (~$34.4M) to close its Series D round, which drew €70.4M (~$83.5M) in total. Investors in the latest raise include Marubeni Corporation, MM Grupp, and Harju Elekter. The company’s supercapacitors use ‘curved graphene,’ a proprietary material it says provides increased energy density and electrical conductivity compared to activated carbon. Having started with supercapacitors, Skeleton Technologies is now working on what it calls superbatteries that combine the fast charging of supercapacitors with the high energy and long duration of batteries for the high-efficiency, high-power niche of the battery market. Founded in 2009 and based in Tallinn, Estonia, it has raised $196M to date.

Amionx drew $6.0M in venture funding for its technology to prevent lithium-ion batteries from catching on fire. The company says its protective mechanism, which is applied as a thin coating between the current collector and the active electrode layer, acts like a circuit breaker to stop thermal runaway caused by internal short, overcharge, impact, or heat and is applicable to any high energy density battery. Spun out from American Lithium Energy in 2016, Amionx is based in Carlsbad, Calif.

Battery management startup Circunomics drew €1.8M (~$2.1M) in seed funding from Kalodion, Circularity Boost, and TES. The company provides a platform for creating digital twins and performing analytics to predict lithium-ion battery end-of-life, as well as provide a marketplace for battery owners to connect with secondary or recycling markets. Based in Frankfurt, Germany, it was founded in 2019.


Table: Selected startups that received funding in June 2021.

Funders
Parkway Venture Capital announced its second $60.0M fund targeting companies in a range of sectors that are using simulation, AI, and data science in their development processes. “Parkway operates at the convergence of technology, simulation and production,” said Jesse Coors-Blankenship co-founder and managing partner at Parkway. “This is based on our insight that everything will be simulated as our world embraces a higher complexity future.” It has previously invested in cloud engineering simulation startup OnScale.

AI applications
Companies using AI in their products swooped up large amounts of funding this month. Software platform that provide assistance for sales teams and HR came in strong, plus a win for optimizing rockets.

  • Relativity Space raised $650.0M in Series E for 3D printed rockets. AI algorithms are used in optimizing the manufacturing process.
  • Anduril raised $450.0M in Series D for connecting drones and sentry towers with AI sensor fusion software for government defense and border patrol.
  • ApplyBoard raised $300.0M in Series D to match students with study abroad opportunities at universities and assist the application process.
  • Insilico Medicine raised $255.0M in Series C for a drug discovery and development platform and clinical trial management.
  • DataRobot raised $250.0M in Series G for its enterprise AI platform that helps companies create and manage machine learning applications in a wide range of industries and use cases.
  • Gong raised $250.0M in Series E to help manage sales by analyzing customer interactions with sales reps and providing recommendations.
  • Eightfold raised $220.0M in Series E for its software to assist with hiring and talent retention.
  • Outreach raised $200.0 in Series G for its platform for sales, including automation, performance reporting, and buyer sentiment analysis.
  • Moveworks raised $200.0M in Series C for a chatbot that assists employees with IT, HR, and other issues.

Related
Find prior startup funding reports here.
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