5 July 2011

EpiGaN raises €4m in first-round funding to launch GaN-on-Si volume production 

EpiGaN nv of Hasselt, Belgium has closed its first capital round of €4m, which will allow it to start volume production of gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) epitaxial material for next-generation efficient power electronics. Investors include Capricorn Cleantech Fund, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, and LRM.

Incorporated in 2010, EpiGaN was founded by chief executive officer Dr Marianne Germain, chief technology officer Dr Joff Derluyn, and chief operating officer Dr Stefan Degroote, as a spin-off of nanoelectronics research center imec in Leuven, Belgium. For more than 10 years, the founders jointly developed GaN-on-Si technology on 4” and 6” wafers at imec, part of which has been licensed to EpiGaN. They are now joined by a consortium of investors who, EpiGaN says, share its vision on GaN-on-Si as a key technology for enhancing power management efficiency, implementing renewable energy sources, or enabling cleaner transportation technologies with reduced environmental impact.  

“EpiGaN has demonstrated the capability of its innovative material to support record device performance either in high-voltage, high-current or high-frequency operation,” claims CEO Dr Marianne Germain, who adds that the investors’ support will enable the firm to commercially provide the same high-standard material quality in large volume to its industrial customers.  

EpiGaN says that the participation of Robert Bosch Venture Capital lends credibility to its strategic vision. “As a leading manufacturer of power electronics modules and systems, we believe that this technology has the potential to make significant contributions to the world of power conversion,” comments Gadi Toren, venture capital investment partner at Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC) and future board member of EpiGaN. 

“Power conversion is an essential technology for an impressive number of cleantech applications such as energy-efficient power supplies, solar inverters, wind energy, electric or hybrid vehicles and smart grids,” says Marc Lambrechts, who will join the board on behalf of Capricorn Cleantech Fund. “Customers of EpiGaN will benefit from higher efficiency, improved reliability and reduced system size and weight, by using the EpiGaN state-of-the-art GaN-on-silicon technology,” he adds. 

EpiGaN says that the investors’ support will allow it to implement its own production capacity and increase its market supply: 4” and 6” GaN-on-Si wafers for high-voltage or RF applications are readily available from the firm, while a 200mm wafer technology is under development. EpiGaN will deploy its activities at the Research Campus Hasselt in Limburg, which is geographically located within the Leuven, Eindhoven and Aachen region. 

“EpiGaN has chosen Limburg as the best location to grow their business after an in depth location study. We are happy that our intertwined offer of venture capital and sector-specific infrastructure played a key role in the decision process,” notes Stijn Bijnens, CEO of Hasselt-based LRM. “EpiGaN will contribute to the development of high-tech solutions for the renewable energy domain, an area where Limburg is willing to play an important role,” he adds. 

“imec has pioneered the use of Si substrates for GaN technology, for its cost efficiency and its bright perspective of leveraging on the silicon-based semiconductor industry,” comments imec’s president & CEO Luc Van den hove. “We are proud to see that a highly innovative, long-term research project leads to the creation of a high-potential spin-off, bringing imec technology to the market.”

See related items:

Combining high current with high transconductance

Record transconductance for nitride HEMT on silicon

AlN barrier increases output current from GaN/Si HEMTs

Tags: EpiGaN GaN-on-Si

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