Leti-and-Soitec Spinout Focused on Becoming Leading European Source Of GaN Devices for Solar, Automotive, Telecoms and Infrastructure.
GRENOBLE, France – June 23, 2015 – Exagan, a start-up innovator of gallium-nitride (GaN) semiconductor technology that enables smaller and more efficient electrical converters, today announced it has raised €5.7 million in first-round financing that will be used to produce high-speed power switching devices on 200mm wafers.
The investors include leading French venture funds with a record of identifying and fostering promising, fast-growth, early-stage technology companies:
Following Exagan’s recent announcement of an agreement with X-FAB to produce devices on 200mm wafers, the financing will help support its mission of becoming Europe’s primary supplier of GaN-based power switches for the solar, automotive, IT electronics and other markets. That mission includes its strategic partnership with CEA-Leti, which is developing applications with some of its industrial partners based on Exagan’s G-FETTM 650 V platform and its unprecedented power-switching performance with extremely low conduction losses.
Exagan, based in Grenoble with a branch office in Toulouse, was spun off by Leti and Soitec in 2014 and licenses materials and technology from both organizations.
Power integration is key to meeting the growing demand for less expensive and more efficient electrical converters that silicon power devices cannot meet. The material properties of GaN devices, meanwhile, offer promising power-integration and efficiency gains that deliver higher power density and switching speed at the device level.
“This significant first round of financing validates our efforts over the past five years with Leti and Soitec to commercialize GaN-on-silicon technology and supports our commitment to provide customers with qualified GaN devices in large volumes,” said Frédéric Dupont, Exagan CEO and co-founder. “We are focused on offering our customers reliable, high-performance devices that are developed with industrial partners already sourcing technologies or products for the targeted markets.”
Vincent Deltrieu, a partner at Innovacom, said: “Exagan has developed a G-FETTM product platform that offers major competitive advantages for electrical-converter makers serving the power-electronics industry. By leveraging the platform’s efficiency and power-saving features, Exagan is well positioned to establish itself as a key technology provider in this high-growth market that has the potential to exceed 1 billion euros in the coming years.”
Stéphane Simoncini, investment director at CM-CIC Innovation, said: “Frédéric and Exagan COO and co-founder Fabrice Letertre are the ideal team to accomplish Exagan’s business and technology goals. With their technical and business vision, they are opening a huge market segment in power electronics, between silicon and silicon carbide.”
Jean-Michel Petit, managing director of IRDInov, said: “Based on our experience with the automotive and aerospace industries, we are convinced of the potential markets for GaN power electronic devices. This is all the more reason to further develop its presence in Toulouse, which has a concentration of competencies in power-electronics applications and many potential future clients.”
Soitec CEO Paul Boudre said: “Soitec is obviously excited about this successful round of financing for Exagan. Their GAN-on-silicon technology, which leverages our own materials expertise, opens very interesting opportunities in promising markets such as electronics, automotive and energy. Exagan is well positioned to drive innovation in power switching technology, due to its location in Grenoble among the strong mix of innovative companies and technology-integration clusters.”
Soitec and CEA Investissement also provided financial support to Exagan prior to the first round of venture-fund backing.
Leti CEO Marie Semeria said Leti has invested many years in developing GaN technologies because it believes they will drive innovation in the power-electronics industry and accelerate development of sustainable-energy technologies.
“We are very excited about the prospects for Exagan, a European source of new GaN power switches for our key industrial partners in the fields of transportation and energy, as well as broader markets,” she said. “Through our partnership with Exagan, Leti will accelerate its investment in this area to further develop our leading expertise in GaN technology and related systems and applications.”
As one of three advanced-research institutes within the CEA Technological Research Division, CEA Tech-Leti serves as a bridge between basic research and production of micro- and nanotechnologies that improve the lives of people around the world. It is committed to creating innovation and transferring it to industry. Backed by its portfolio of 2,800 patents, Leti partners with large industrials, SMEs and startups to tailor advanced solutions that strengthen their competitive positions. It has launched 54 startups. Its 8,500m² of new-generation cleanroom space feature 200mm and 300mm wafer processing of micro and nano solutions for applications ranging from space to smart devices. With a staff of more than 1,800, Leti is based in Grenoble, France, and has offices in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Tokyo. Follow us on www.leti.fr and @CEA_Leti.
Exagan was created in 2014 with support from CEA-Leti and Soitec to accelerate the power-electronics industry’s transition from silicon-based technology to smaller and more efficient electrical converters based on GaN-on-silicon technology. Its GaN power switches are designed for full compatibility with standard 200mm silicon foundries to deliver high-performance, high-reliability products through a robust supply chain. The company’s G-FET platforms offer very high power-switching performance with extremely low conduction losses, enabling unprecedented power integration and efficiency levels in solar, automotive and IT electronics converters. Exagan in based in Grenoble, France, and has a branch office in Toulouse. Visit www.exagan.com.
Since its creation in 1988 in France where it pioneered venture capital industry, Innovacom has helped 300+ high-tech companies launch and grow their business internationally with offices in Paris, Stockholm and in Silicon Valley. Focused on innovative companies bringing high value to people and organizations, Innovacom’s recent investments include promising companies like COZYCLOUD, INTERSEC, IS2T, I-TEN, MATRIXX and OLEA MEDICAL. Through its seed venture capital fundtechnocom2 launched in 2012, Innovacom is an active investor able to support early stage innovative companies. Technocom 2 is sponsored by BPI France, Alcatel-Lucent, Orange, Groupe SEB and Soitec as strategic partners and financial contributors to the Fund. Visit www.innovacom.com.
CM-CIC Innovation is a subsidiary of CM-CIC Investissement, specialized in venture capital investment. Its goal is to invest in businesses that develop promising technologies as from the upstream stages. CM-CIC Innovation selects companies with strong growth potential in dynamic sectors such as information technology, telecommunications, electronics, life sciences, new materials and the environment. Its policy is to provide long-term equity support for innovative startups to smooth their path to success. The level of investment is adapted on a case-by-case basis, ranging generally from €0.5 to 5M – these funds are injected in installments to address ongoing development needs. Visit www.cmcic-investissement.com.
IRDInov is a seed fund managed by IRDI, a private equity group based in Toulouse. Launched in late 2012 with the support of the FNA (National Seed Fund) managed by BPI France, IRDI, the Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine Regions, regional banks and industrials, the investment strategy of the fund is centered on spin-off projects from public or private research labs. IRDInov invests up to 3 million euros per company in South West of France. Visit www.irdi.fr.
Soitec (Euronext, Paris) is a world leader in designing and manufacturing high performance semiconductor materials. The company uses its unique technologies and semiconductors expertise to serve the electronics and energy markets. With 3,600 patents worldwide, Soitec’s strategy is based on disruptive innovation to answer its customers’ needs for high performance, energy efficiency and cost competitiveness. Soitec has manufacturing facilities, R&D centers and offices in Europe, US and Asia. For more information, please visit www.soitec.com.
Created in 1999 and with 65M€ under management, CEA investissement is a private subsidiary of the CEA dedicated to financing high-tech companies. Since its creation, CEA investissement has financed the beginnings of more than 50 startups across all domains of CEA expertise: microelectronics, life sciences, energy and environment as well as materials, instrumentation, and embedded systems for industry. The CEA investissement team is located in Grenoble and in Paris. For more information: www.cea-investissement.com
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Frédéric Dupont, CEO
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