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1 October 2012

Transphorm raises $35m in Series-E financing led by Japan’s INCJ

Transphorm Inc of Goleta, near Santa Barbara, CA, USA (which designs and delivers power conversion devices and modules) has announced a $35m Series E financing round led by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) and Nihon Inter Electronics Company (NIEC) and joined by existing venture investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, Google Ventures, Quantum Strategic Partners (a private investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management), Lux Capital, and Bright Capital.

Established in July 2009 by Japanese government and 27 major corporations (including Sharp, Sumitomo Electric, Toshiba and General Electric Company, Japan), INCJ is a public-private partnership provides financial, technological and management support for next-generation businesses (specifically projects combining technologies and varied expertise across industries).

Transphorm was co-founded in 2007 by CEO Umesh Mishra, a professor of electrical & computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), with backing of $38m from Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital and Lux Capital. The firm aims to solve the multi-billion dollar problem of power waste whenever electricity from the grid is converted into usable electric power. Existing silicon-based power converters are only 85–90% efficient, so 10% of energy is lost (e.g. as waste heat). Transphorm emerged from stealth mode in February 2011, when it launched what it claimed to be the first complete solution to significantly reduce such power waste, based on replacing legacy silicon-based power conversion technology with high-voltage normally-off gallium nitride (GaN)-based power conversion modules.

Backed by its vertically integrated GaN development capability and intellectual property, Transphorm recently claimed that it was the first to deliver qualified high-voltage (600V) GaN products, delivering enterprise customers the most compact and energy-efficient power conversion solutions available.

The latest financing brings the total capital raised by Transphorm from all funding rounds to $104m. “The investment from INCJ substantiates GaN as the next-generation energy efficiency technology,” says Transphorm’s Umesh Mishra. “The need for energy efficiency remains paramount even as the sources of energy change,” he adds. “Today’s strategic financing, coupled with the earlier investments, enables scaling of this disruptive technology and helps eliminate energy waste in multiple markets from servers to solar panels, from HVACs to hybrids.” 

In addition to investing, NIEC (which was established in 1957 and manufactures power management semiconductors for automotive, solar energy products, energy-efficient appliances, IT products and smartphone applications) has entered into a business alliance with Transphorm, with the aim of enabling the stable, mass production and supply of next-generation GaN power devices. The alliance should help to bring the long-awaited practical realization, commercialization and mass production of GaN power conversion solutions, the firms reckon.

“The INCJ-enabled alliance with NIEC helps Transphorm accelerate its business while maintaining its global leadership position in GaN power conversion,” reckons president Primit Parikh. “Through NIEC, our customers will benefit with broader distribution channels, as well as a reputable second source for some of our packaged products,” he adds. 

“After a thorough evaluation process, INCJ is pleased to support Transphorm, together with NIEC, in its mission of re-defining energy efficiency with GaN,” comments INCJ’s executive managing director Hidetoshi Shibata. “We look forward to working with Transphorm as they continue to build energy-efficient solutions for consumers and businesses around the world.” 

Tags: Transphorm GaN HEMTs




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