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eCAPITAL and HTGF invest in Ferroelectric Memory Company

12. July 2018

Dresden/ Munich — Ferroelectric Memory GmbH (FMC) markets tech­no­logy for disrup­tive, non-vola­­tile memory solu­ti­ons for micro­con­trol­lers. The company closed a growth finan­cing in the amount of 4.6 million euros. Lead inves­tor of this finan­cing round was eCAPI­TAL entre­pre­neu­rial Part­ners AG with parti­ci­pa­tion of the exis­ting inves­tor High-Tech Grün­der­fonds. The funds will be used to expand the team, acce­le­rate further deve­lo­p­ment of the tech­no­logy, and gain signi­fi­cant market share by repla­cing the current off-the-shelf technology.

Driven by the global trend towards digi­ta­liz­a­tion, auto­ma­tion and networ­king, billi­ons of devices are equip­ped with an incre­a­sing number of micro­con­trol­lers. These tiny single-chip compu­ter systems are at the heart of inno­va­tion in fast-growing key tech­no­lo­gies such as the Inter­net of Things and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence. Indus­tries such as consu­mer elec­tro­nics, health­care, secu­rity, auto­mo­tive and aero­space are expe­ri­en­cing disrup­tive chan­ges as a result.

The chal­lenge of the digi­tal future for micro­con­trol­lers is not only that ever more complex data must be saved on ever smal­ler memo­ries, but the data must also remain avail­able for a long time. Incre­a­singly higher demands are being placed on the memory in terms of the number of write cycles and the dura­tion of data reten­tion, even at extreme tempe­ra­tures. The current indus­try stan­dard for non-vola­­tile memory, eFlash tech­no­logy, only meets the growing requi­re­ments at the price of extre­mely complex manu­fac­tu­ring proces­ses, thus hinde­ring further progress in the minia­tu­riz­a­tion of micro­con­trol­lers. Compa­red to the latest genera­tion of stan­dard CMOS logic, eFlash is now five tech­no­logy genera­ti­ons behind.

FMC’s memory tech­no­logy is directly deri­ved from stan­dard CMOS logic, thus solving the minia­tu­riz­a­tion problem.

The market for this is huge and fast-moving. The main play­ers are inte­gra­ted manu­fac­tu­rers or semi­con­duc­tor fabri­ca­tors and so-called fabless semi­con­duc­tor compa­nies. FMC offers its proprie­tary Ferroelectric Field Effect Tran­sis­tor (FeFET) tech­no­logy to these compa­nies. FeFETs exploit the ferroelectric property of hafnium oxide, which can be used to convert CMOS tran­sis­tors into effi­ci­ent memory devices. CMOS tran­sis­tors still scale accord­ing to Moore’s Law and FeFETs deri­ved from them exhi­bit supe­rior perfor­mance, high density, extre­mely low power consump­tion and very good tempe­ra­ture stability.

The key to the new stan­dard in this indus­try is that FMC tech­no­logy thus enab­les the further minia­tu­riz­a­tion of micro­con­trol­lers. FeFETs can be inte­gra­ted into exis­ting produc­tion lines without signi­fi­cant modi­fi­ca­tion or invest­ment, as hafnium oxide is already stan­dard indus­try insu­la­tor mate­rial. Compa­red to eFlash, the manu­fac­tu­ring process is much simp­ler, so produc­tion costs can be drasti­cally reduced.

“Our non-vola­­tile memory tech­no­logy addres­ses the current and future needs of the indus­try with 1,000x higher speed and 1,000x lower power consump­tion while signi­fi­cantly redu­cing manu­fac­tu­ring costs. With eCAPITAL’s support, we can hire the right talent — such as analo­­g/­­mi­­xed-signal desi­gners and charac­te­riz­a­tion engi­neers — to acce­le­rate our product deve­lo­p­ment and drive market pene­tra­tion,” explains Dr. Stefan Müller, CEO of FMC.

“The disrup­tive poten­tial of the tech­no­logy and the custo­mers the company has already won so far are truly impres­sive. FMC has the poten­tial to set the new indus­try stan­dard and we look forward to suppor­ting the company in this endea­vor,” adds Willi Mann­heims, Mana­ging Part­ner at eCAPITAL.

“With FMC we have iden­ti­fied anot­her tech­no­logy jewel in Dres­den that can change entire indus­tries and become a real game chan­ger. We welcome FMC to the eCAPI­TAL port­fo­lio and will contri­bute our expe­ri­ence and network to secure FMC’s fast success­ful deve­lo­p­ment”, comments Dr. Paul-Josef Patt, Mana­ging Part­ner and CEO of eCAPI­TAL. Patt was already the lead inves­tor in Dres­­den-based Nova­led, which eCAPI­TAL was able to sell very success­fully to Samsung at the end of 2013, and is a member of the advi­sory board of Dres­­den-based Helia­tek, an OPV provi­der. FMC is already the 11th invest­ment of the current eCAPI­TAL fund eCAPI­TAL IV, which was laun­ched in 2016.

“In the possi­bi­lity of conver­ting conven­tio­nal tran­sis­tors into non-vola­­tile memory units, we see an enor­mously high disrup­tion poten­tial. With the seed finan­cing by HTGF, the company has now reached the next level. We have there­fore incre­a­sed our invest­ment in FMC to a total of 1.6 million euros and are plea­sed to have gained a valu­able part­ner in eCAPI­TAL for further growth,” adds Yann Fiebig, Senior Invest­ment Mana­ger at HTGF.

About FMC
FMC is the provi­der of highly effi­ci­ent FeFET memory solu­ti­ons for non-vola­­tile memory. FeFET memo­ries are extre­mely low power, high perfor­mance, have high storage density and high tempe­ra­ture stabi­lity. By scaling our disrup­tive tech­no­logy to tran­sis­tor sizes of 28nm and below, we are solving the scaling problem faced by semi­con­duc­tor manu­fac­tu­rers and fabless semi­con­duc­tor compa­nies. The tech­no­logy deve­lo­p­ment was funded by the Euro­pean Regio­nal Deve­lo­p­ment Fund (ERDF) and the Free State of Saxony. The FMC team was suppor­ted by “EXIST Forschungs­trans­fer”, a program of the German Federal Minis­try for Econo­mic Affairs and Energy. The company was foun­ded in 2016 and is based in Dresden.

About eCAPI­TAL AG
eCAPI­TAL entre­pre­neu­rial Part­ners AG, based in Müns­ter, is a capi­tal manage­ment company for alter­na­tive invest­ment funds (AIF) accord­ing to the EuVECA regu­la­tion. The company is one of the leading venture capi­tal inves­tors in Germany and has been actively suppor­ting inno­va­tive entre­pre­neurs in promi­sing indus­tries since 1999. The focus is on fast-growing compa­nies in the software/IT, Indus­try 4.0, clean­tech and new mate­ri­als segments. eCAPI­TAL curr­ently mana­ges six funds with a subscrip­tion capi­tal of over 220 million euros.

About High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF)
The seed inves­tor High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) finan­ces tech­no­logy star­tups with growth poten­tial. With a total volume of 892.5 million euros distri­bu­ted across three funds (272 million euros Fund I, 304 million euros Fund II, 316.5 million euros Fund III) and an inter­na­tio­nal part­ner network, HTGF has already shaped 500 star­tups into compa­nies since 2005. His team of expe­ri­en­ced invest­ment mana­gers and startup experts accom­pa­nies the deve­lo­p­ment of the young compa­nies with know-how, entre­pre­neu­rial spirit and passion. The focus is on high-tech start-ups in the soft­ware, media and Inter­net sectors, as well as hard­ware, auto­ma­tion, health care, chemi­cals and life scien­ces. More than €1.5 billion in capi­tal has been inves­ted in the HTGF port­fo­lio by exter­nal inves­tors in over 1,200 follow-on finan­cing rounds to date. The fund has also success­fully sold shares in more than 90 companies.

Inves­tors in the public-private part­ners­hip include the German Federal Minis­try for Econo­mic Affairs and Energy, KfW, the Fraun­­ho­­fer-Gesel­l­­schaft and the busi­ness enter­pri­ses ALTANA, BASF, Bay- er, Boehrin­ger Ingel­heim, B.Braun, Robert Bosch, BÜFA, CEWE, Deut­sche Post DHL, Dräger, Dril­lisch AG, EVONIK, EWE AG, Haniel, Hettich, Knauf, Körber, LANXESS, media + more venture Betei­li­gungs GmbH & Co. KG, PHOENIX CONTACT, Post­bank, QIAGEN, RWE Genera­tion SE, SAP, Schufa, Schwarz Gruppe, STIHL, Thüga, Vector Infor­ma­tik, WACKER and Wilh. Werhahn KG.

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