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Chip execs start incubator fund for Asia, E. Europe

Posted: 28 Mar 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Nabil Takla? technology incubator fund? semiconductor industry? Phylinks?

Several semiconductor industry executives are setting up a tech incubator fund that will assist entrepreneurs and companies in Asia and Eastern Europe. The group is led by Nabil Takla, founder and CEO of Innovative Semiconductor Inc.

The fund will be based in the U.S. state of California but will have local offices in India, China, Eastern Europe and western Asia. The still-to-be-named organization, the fund corpus of which was not disclosed, will nurture entrepreneurial engineers who lack the market exposure, mentors and money to commercialize technologies on their own. The organization will help formulate business plans and marketing strategies for the startups.

Takla started his chip-industry career as an EPROM designer for Intel Corp. In 1997, he quit as VP of VLSI products at France's Matra Design Semiconductor to launch Innovative. Today that company supplies certified USB 2.0 solutions, IEEE-1394 PHY and link controllers, and video compression technologies for customers such as Agilent, IBM, Infineon and Motorola.

Bridging engineers, entrepreneurs
One aim of the tech incubator will be to guide entrepreneurs in replicating their software and back-end design success for development of front-end system architectures and complex digital designs. "I am very interested in the potential of entrepreneurs, specifically with respect to the semiconductor and software industries," Takla said. "I believe that the design skills in India, China, Eastern Europe and western Asia are improving quickly. I also believe that this improvement in the design capability of engineers can be accelerated and better leveraged by forging relationships with successful entrepreneurs in the U.S."

Takla's partners in the new organization will be people who succeeded with their own ventures and are willing to invest money and/or time in supporting other startups.

"What we plan is more on the lines of angel investors with a focus on certain geographies and more involvement in mentoring," he said. "Our criteria for selecting companies to mentor are very simple, centering on the quality of the founding team and their entrepreneurial disposition. These were the criteria for my investment in Phylinks Ltd, a company that I also run and that works with Innovative to develop next-generation Serdes technology."

Takla said he has "invested in a few startups in India and elsewhere, but so far this process has been informal. We plan to formalize it in the next few months."

Nurturing talent
Emerging companies in the targeted regions, he said, need to nurture three key types of talent: "system engineers who understand the underlying system-on-chip design technology; marketing managers with strategic, in addition to tactical, skills; and project managers who have in-depth understanding of the complexity of the technology and awareness of time-to-market pressures to effectively compete with the best designers in the world."

The new organization will help with that process. "With mentoring, understanding of market requirements and market strategy, careful and disciplined execution of a proven design flow, sensitivity to customer needs and wishes, a system of checks and balances, and close association with a sister company in the U.S., one can accelerate the process of startups," Takla said.

- K.C. Krishnadas
EE Times

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