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Shanghai opens incubator for More-than-Moore devices

Posted: 20 Oct 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Moore's Law? Mora-than-Moore? hardware accelerator? incubator?

The Shanghai Industrial Technology Research Institute (SITRI) opened a hardware accelerator in Silicon Valley to drive "More-than-Moore" innovations.

The Chinese research institute designed, built and recently opened an incubator, called SITRI Innovations, to support hardware entrepreneurs who are developing and commercializing "More-than-Moore" devices.

This SITRI initiative isn't just about China wanting to pick Silicon Valley's brains. Among the promoters of SITRI Innovations is Kurt Petersen, largely known to the industry as the father of MEMS and now on the SITRI advisory board. His big idea is to leverage SITRI to re-ignite VCs' investment in hardware.

SITRI's goal is to go beyond the process-node driven CMOS technologies that have defined the IC industry for decades and helped propel PC and smartphone market growth.

SITRI

SITRI is specifically looking for fresh ideas in "the next wave of semiconductor innovations" including "MEMS, sensors, optoelectronics, RF, bio and micro-Energy that do not depend on feature-size driven CMOS technology," according to the firm.

Peter Himes, general manager of SITRI Innovations and SITRI Ventures, believes that SITRI, backed by the Shanghai government, can help build an ecosystem and infrastructure for More-than-Moore technologies, by connecting Silicon Valley start-ups with the supply chain and markets in China.

"Types of innovations the [More-than-Moore] market needs are still coming out of the Valley," said Himes. "We want to help those start-ups get off the ground."

No new investment in hardware

Himes also observed, "We've seen VCs' investment go to wearables, cloud services and analytics, but no new investment in semiconductors and future innovations of hardware." By assisting entrepreneurs to fast-track their market entry, Himes thinks they have a better chance to attract VC money.

Petersen who co-founded six start-ups, four of which made successful exits, told EE Times, "I'm familiar with MEMS start-ups and what they're up against."

He said, "Since the last economic crash, VC funding in semiconductor start-ups have totally stagnated." To make up for it, "Angel investors like us have stepped up."

A lot of early-stage start-ups developing MEMS could use mentoring from experts. Access to MEMS foundries and a global supply chain is also critical, explained Petersen.

Luckily, SITRI in Shanghai is already building a wafer fab designed to work on MEMS. Built for pilot productions, the fab is not just for MEMS, but "include III-V, RFSOI, piezo and magnetic materials, III-V-on-silicon," Himes told EE Times earlier this year.

What's in it for SITRI?

Jrmie Bouchaud, senior director, MEMS & Sensors at IHS, told EE Times that China has big plans in IoT and use of sensors for IoT. "But there is not a strong MEMS ecosystem, such as R&D, start-up, IDMs, in China."

He explained that opening this incubator in Silicon Valley is a way to access innovation outside of China and to accelerate partnerships with overseas companies.

Jean-Christophe Eloy, president and CEO, Yole Dveloppement (Lyon, France), also called the SITRI strategy "smart." He said, "SITRI thinks it can aggregate different start-up business from Silicon Valley from devices to module and systems, help them develop their products and take full benefit of the Chinese supply chain SITRI is involved."


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