Chip start-up SuVolta secures scarce venture capital funding

January 5, 2012

SuVolta, a Silicon Valley start-up working to slash power used by microchips, has secured $17.6 million in new funding from its venture capital backers to help it continue its research.

The funding round came from existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, August Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Northgate Capital and DAG Ventures, and for the first time included Bright Capital.

SuVolta sent along with its news release a graphic illustrating the pace of venture capital investment in semiconductors over more than a decade. Using data supplied by PricewaterhouseCoopers along with estimates for the fourth quarter of last year, it shows that investment in microchips remains much lower than pre-recession levels in 2007 and earlier.

Developing semiconductor technology is a risky endeavor that can take years to pay off. Along the way, start-ups face hefty costs as they design and churn out test chips using high-tech manufacturing equipment.

Venture capitalists bet $819 million on semiconductor startups in the first three quarters of 2011, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

By comparison, the software industry attracted $4.8 billion during that time and venture capitalists put over $2 billion into media and entertainment.

Chip industry suppliers received just $272 million in funding in 2010, down from $717 million before the recession in 2007, according to The Global Semiconductor Alliance.

SuVolta has licensed its Deeply Depleted Channel transistor technology to Fujitsu Semiconductor and is looking fore more manufacturing customers making processors for mobile gadgets like smartphones that are sensitive to power consumption.

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