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.
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.