Semiconductor Equipment

Applied Ventures applies investments around the world

12 August 2022
Applied Materials engineers work on semiconductor equipment in a clean room. For the better part of a decade the venture capital arm of the company has been investing in semiconductor companies globally. Source: Applied Materials

Applied Ventures is the venture capital arm of Applied Materials. Established more than a decade ago, the firm invests in many countries and markets and tends to be choosy about its investments.

Anand Kamannavar, vice president and global head at Applied Ventures, said the firm gets around 700 applications for private funding each year and selects five or six candidates. Kamannavar is an experienced venture capitalist and business development executive. He has 15 years of experience in corporate funding of startups.

“We are stage-agnostic,” he said. Applied Ventures has invested in 90 companies in 17 countries and the firm invests $25 million to $50 million in funding rounds and globally invests up to $100 million per year, Kamannavar added.

Applied Ventures is “very active” and “bullish on the semiconductor industry,” he said. The firm is “being strong on fabless semiconductor companies,” he said. Applied Ventures is also interested in advanced materials, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, Industry 4.0 automation technology, life sciences, photonics, robotics and software startups, among other fields, according to Kamannavar.

He acknowledges that startup investments are down this year, compared with 2021. There is “a sinking in growth,” he said. Last year’s trend with special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) and the eagerness by hedge funds to invest in startups has faded.

“That has slowed down,” Kamannavar said.

2022 investments

During the second quarter of this year, North American investment levels were high, according to Crunchbase. However, startup investors provided $62.7 billion during Q2, down 27% from Q1 and declining by 25% compared with one year earlier.

At the same time, institutional investors are retaining “dry powder,” being more careful with their investments, Kamannavar said. “People are always innovating.”

Following is the portfolio of companies with investments from Applied Ventures.

This year, Applied Ventures made a strategic investment in Cornami of Campbell, California. The SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the startup’s oversubscribed Series C round of private funding, along with Applied Ventures. Cornami provides the software defined TruStream Computational Fabric for real-time computing in complex and critical applications.

Syntiant, a developer of AI chips, raised $55 million in new funding, increasing its total funding to more than $100 million. Renesas Electronics, Millennium Technology Value Partners, and Mirae Asset Capital are among five new investors. Its existing investors include Intel Capital, Microsoft’s M12 fund, Applied Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, the Amazon Alexa Fund and Atlantic Bridge Capital.

2021 investments

During 2021, Applied Ventures made numerous investments.

Exo of Redwood City, California, raised $220 million in Series C funding led by RA Capital Management and joined by BlackRock, Sands Capital, Avidity Partners and Pura Vida Investments. Its investors include Action Potential Venture Capital (a GlaxoSmithKline venture fund), Applied Ventures, Bold Capital Investors, Compal, Creative Ventures, HM Capital and TDK Ventures, among other investors.

Boston-based SES AI (also known as Solid Energy) raised $139 million in Series D funding led by General Motors and joined by existing investors SK Inc., Temasek, Applied Ventures, Shanghai Auto and Vertex.

Applied Ventures also invested in Ideal Semiconductor of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Boston-based Vesper raised $8 million in new funding led by Applied Ventures. Vesper also received investments from Accomplice, the Amazon Alexa Fund, Bose Ventures, Sands Capital and other undisclosed investors. The round brought Vesper’s total funding to date to $65 million.

Metalenz of Boston raised $10 million in new funding. The money came from 3M Ventures, Applied Ventures, Intel Capital, M Ventures and TDK Ventures, along with participation from Tsingyuan Ventures and Braemar Energy Ventures.

During 2020, Ayar Labs of Santa Clara, California, raised $35 million in Series B funding co-led by Downing Ventures and BlueSky Capital. New investors included Applied Ventures, Castor Ventures, Downing Ventures (U.K.) and SGInnovate (Singapore). Existing investors were Founders Fund, GlobalFoundries, Intel Capital, Lockheed Martin Ventures and Playground Global.

Britain’s Rockley Photonics raised $50 million in growth funding from Credit Suisse backed SIG-i Capital and Applied Ventures, along with existing shareholders.

France’s Antaios raised $11 million in Series A funding from Inovocom, Sofimac Innovation, Applied Ventures, Bpifrance and other bank partners.

MakinaRocks of Seoul and Silicon Valley raised $10 million in Series A funding from LG Technology Ventures, Hyundai Motors, Applied Ventures and financial investors Korea Development Bank, Daesung Venture Capital, Shinhan Investment Corporation and HB Investment, along with SK Telecom and Navers.

2019 investments

In 2019, Applied Ventures recognized best-in-class start-ups in India. Three start-ups — Pandorum Technologies (3D bio-printing), Falkonry (advanced analytics) and Shilps Sciences (single-cell transcriptomics) — were awarded cash prizes for their disruptive approaches to addressing key challenges across multiple deep-tech market inflections. Theevent was co-hosted by ASTRA (the Applied Start-up Technology & Research Accelerator).

Ultivue of Cambridge, Massachusetts, raised $22 million in Series C funding led by new investor Northpond Ventures and including existing investors ARCH Venture Partners, 6 Dimensions Capital, Yonghua Capital and Applied Ventures.

Dallas-based Adaptive3D raised Series A funding co-led by DSM Venturing and Applied Ventures. DSM Venturing is the strategic funding arm of Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in sustainable living, nutrition and additive manufacturing.

2018 investments

In 2018, Avegant of Belmont, California, raised $12 million in Series AA funding from new investors Walden SKT Venture Fund and China Walden Venture Investments III, as well as previous investors. Applied Ventures participated in the funding round.

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