Intel swoops on Irish chip design firm for €300m
The Irish computer chip design firm Movidius is being bought by Intel in a deal that is expected to be worth more than €300m.
The State holds a roughly 8pc stake in the company, held through a number of investment managers backed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).
Movidius was founded in 2006 by David Moloney and Seán Mitchell. Its main activity is making chips that let machines 'see' and 'think' by giving them more power in smaller, unconnected units. That's now in massive demand, including for use in unmanned drones.
Having signed deals with Google, Lenovo and DJI, the Dublin company has attracted the interest of other top-end tech companies that want to position themselves in the 'internet of things' sector.
Last year, Movidius announced one of Europe's biggest tech funding rounds, with €38m in cash raised from investors that included Summit Bridge Capital, the China-Ireland Growth Technology Fund co-managed by Atlantic Bridge Capital and WestSummit Capital, ARCH Venture Partners and DFJ Esprit - which has since floated on the Dublin and London Stock Exchanges.
The investment round implied a valuation for Movidius as a whole of €250m and brought its total funding haul to over €83m.
"I'm excited to announce the planned acquisition of Movidius by Intel," said Movidius chief executive Remi El-Ouzzane.
"Movidius' mission is to give the power of sight to machines. As part of Intel, we'll remain focused on this mission, but with the technology and resources to innovate faster and execute at scale. We will continue to operate with the same eagerness to invent and the same customer-focus attitude that we're known for, and we will retain Movidius talent and the start-up mentality that we have demonstrated over the years."
Last year, Google said it would use Movidius's technology as part of its own 3D-mapping platform. The move means Movidius chips could form part of a much wider adoption among phone and mobile device makers.
"Today, we're working with customers like DJI, FLIR, Google and Lenovo to give sight to smart devices including drones, security cameras, AR/VR headsets and more," said Mr El-Ouzzane.
"But today's smart devices, while compelling, offer just a glimpse of what's to come. When computers can see, they can become autonomous and that's just the beginning.
"We're on the cusp of big breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. In the years ahead, we'll see new types of autonomous machines with more advanced capabilities as we make progress on one of the most difficult challenges of AI: getting our devices not just to see, but also to think."