Thursday 30 March 2017

Microchip firm 'to be our first $1bn unicorn'

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Enda Kenny, Movidius Founders Sean Mitchell and David Moloney, and Richard Bruton at the announcement
Enda Kenny, Movidius Founders Sean Mitchell and David Moloney, and Richard Bruton at the announcement

A microchip firm is being tipped as the first billion-dollar tech company to come out of Ireland in a decade.

Movidius, which makes chips for camera sensors, has received €38m in one of Europe's biggest venture capital funding rounds so far this year.

The money brings to almost €500m the amount raised by Irish tech firms in the last year in what is becoming a funding boom for indigenous entrepreneurs.

Movidius, set up by Sean Mitchell and David Moloney, won the funding on the back of its ground-breaking technology, which makes phone and camera sensors less expensive and more efficient to run.

Google has signed on to take the firm's technology, as well as "another eight to 10 tech giants of that calibre", according to co-founder Mr Mitchell.

And some of its investors believe it is heading for the billion dollar club.

"I believe it will be Ireland's first unicorn," said Brian Caulfield, one of Ireland's most experienced tech investors and an early backer of the company.

A 'unicorn' is a tech industry term for a start-up that reaches a $1bn valuation.

"When you see the breadth of products they're in, they're dealing with the top customers in every sector," said Mr Caulfield.

Other investors are equally upbeat.

"This technology comes at exactly the right time," said Brian Long, a partner at Atlantic Bridge that has €450m of tech investments around the world.

Movidius's €38m funding round brings to over €80m the amount of investment cash it has raised in the last year. While the founders declined to reveal the company's valuation, it is thought to be a multiple of its cash raised.

The funding comes amid a surge in investment for Irish technology start-ups.

Figures from the Irish Venture Capital Association show a 41pc rise in funding here, as entrepreneurs start to look to global markets with their products and services.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said: "It proves that you don't have to go the Silicon Valley to get investment. You can do it in Ireland."

Irish Independent

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