Friday 22 February 2019

€38m in cash and 100 jobs in major funding round for Dublin-based tech firm

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

A DUBLIN-BASED mobile technology company has announced one of Europe’s biggest tech funding rounds, with €38m in cash and 100 new Irish jobs to come.

Movidius, which makes chip technology for cameras, phones and other mobile devices, has recently won big contracts with Google and other tech giants. The new investment round brings its funding haul to over €83m. It is also the largest funding round for a ‘fabless’ (non-manufacturing) semiconductor company in the past two years, anywhere in the world.

And it brings to almost €500m the amount of money that Irish tech firms have raised in the last year.

Movidius, which was founded by David Moloney and Seán Mitchell in 2005, aims to use some of the €38m to hire 100 people in Dublin over the next 12 months.

Movidius founders David Moloney and Sean Mitchell
Movidius founders David Moloney and Sean Mitchell

The company is being tipped as a potential Irish ‘unicorn’ tech firm, meaning a startup that rises above $1bn in value based on its funding. To date, the most valuable Irish technology firm by funding measurement is Stripe, which is valued at over €3bn and was founded by Limerick’s Patrick and John Collison.

Movidius currently employs 70 people, divided between a Dublin office and a Silicon Valley office.

The company’s chip technology can handle cutting edge computer operations on very low power, giving them battery battery life and making them especially attractive to manufacturers of smartphones and other mobile devices. In some instances, the technology uses ten times less battery power than chips in today’s phones.

Before today, Movidius had already raised almost €40m in funding from investors that include Atlantic Bridge, Robert Bosch VC and AIB Seed Capital.

Movidius founders Sean Mitchell and David Moloney
Movidius founders Sean Mitchell and David Moloney

It is one of the largest VC investments ever in Ireland for a technology company.

Today’s funding is being led by Summit Bridge Capital, the China-Ireland Growth Technology Fund co-managed by Atlantic Bridge Capital and WestSummit Capital. It also includes new contributions from ARCH Venture Partners and Sunny Optical Technology Group, as well as early investors including Atlantic Bridge Capital, DFJ Esprit, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, AIB Seed Capital Fund and Capital-E. As part of this new round, David Lam of WestSummit Capital will be joining Movidius’ board of directors.

Movidius’s executives say that they will use the financing to further drive software and hardware product innovation in visual sensing for the next wave of emerging applications, including virtual reality headsets, drones, home automation and wearables. Its technology will transform how devices and users interact with the world around them through intelligent, vision-based technology. And its most recent chip can process six high definition cameras at once, handling 600 megapixels per second.

According to the company’s chief executive Remi El-Ouazzane, three major manufacturers are planning to use its technology in their next devices.

"They will be flagship smartphones and tablets implementing computational cameras in some shape or form using our Myriad 2 processor," he recently told The Irish Independent. "We also see a big future in wearable cameras and embedded devices, in the medical, robotics and home automation sectors."

Last year, Google announced that it would use Movidius’s technology as part of its own 3D-mapping platform. The move means that Movidius chips could form part of a much wider adoption among phone and mobile device makers.

*The 8 biggest Irish fundraising rounds in the last year:

1. GC Aesthetics €42.8m

Location: Dublin

Technology: implant devices and breast augmentation technology

Founders: Robert Scully and Ken Pearce

Round investors: Orbimed, Montreaux, Oyster

2. Movidius €38m

Location: Dublin

Technology: mobile and camera chip technology

Founders: David Moloney and Seán Mitchell

Round investors: Summit Bridge Capital, ARCH Venture Partners, Sunny Optical Technology Group, Atlantic Bridge Capital.

3. AMCS €23.5m

Location: Limerick

Technology: recycling and waste management software

Founders: Jimmy Martin and Austin Ryan

Round investors: Highland Capital Partners, Investech

4. Field Aware €17.8m

Location: Dublin

Technology: business software

Founders: Ray Cunningham and Andronikos Nedos

Round investors: WestSummit, OpenView, Atlantic Bridge, Oyster, SVB

5. Intercom €17m

Location: Dublin

Technology: business and marketing workflow software

Founders: Eoghan McCabe, Ciaran Lee, Des Traynor and David Barrett

Round investors: Bessemer, The Social + Capital Partnership

6. Mainstay Medical €15.3m

Location: Dublin

Technology: medical devices

Founder: Danny Sachs

Round investors: Fountain Healthcare, Medtronic, Capricorn, Seventure, Soffinova

7. Brandtone €14m

Location: Dublin

Technology: telecoms and mobile marketing software

Founders: Donald Fitzmaurice and Ben Atherton

Round investors: Syngenta Ventures, Verlinvest

8. Bitnet Technologies €10.5m

Location: Belfast

Technology: financial software / Bitcoin payment processing

Founders: John McDonnell and Stephen McNamara

Round investors: Highland Capital Partners, Rakuten

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