The European Commission's European Innovation Council has selected Minima Processor, based in Finland, as one of the 65 innovative start-ups and SMEs to receive funding for breakthrough innovations. Each company will receive a combination of grant financing and equity investment to develop and scale up their ground-breaking innovations in healthcare, digital technologies, energy, biotechnology, space and other. This is the first batch of companies that will be funded under the fully-fledged European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator. They are continually taking applications and future batches of companies will be announced. Let me answer a few questions you might have about the process and what we intend to do with the funding.
1. What was the selection process like? What was the criteria for selection? What stood out in Minima’s submission that appealed to the EIC Accelerator?
The EIC Accelerator is a unique European funding instrument of the European Innovation Council. This was the first batch of companies selected from more than 800 applications for the EIC Accelerator. Prior to this, Minima participated in the SME Instrument, the predecessor programme to the EIC Accelerator. So they were familiar with us but the process still required an indepth video, application, pitch and intensive interview with a jury of investors and entrepreneurs. They are targeting companies looking to fund their development and scale up their ground-breaking innovations in healthcare, digital technologies, energy, biotechnology, and space. They resonated with our value proposition to enable lower energy chips to save battery life and make that available to the broadest market possible through a semiconductor IP and EDA licensing model. We were the only semiconductor IP and EDA company selected this time.
2. Minima is receiving a full blended investment. What does that mean? How do you plan to use the investment?
The EIC Accelerator offers grants of up to ~€2.5 million combined with equity investments which is what they call a full blended investment. It supports the development of top-class innovations through crowding-in private investors for equity. Minima will be using the grant and potential equity in combination with private investors to scale up both the technology and the business. Remember in the last interview we discussed scaling our business not only by resource enabling us to support more customers, but by developing our IP delivery methods and Dynamic Margining EDA tools. This is precisely what the EIC Accelerator enables us to do. Tooling our solution enables our customers to explore and implement the technology more independently, enabling a step function in business growth, rather than scaling by mere resource growth.
3. Early in the year, Minima was focused on the always on, sensing type applications such as hearables and wearables. How is that going?
Minima’s Dynamic Margining IP solution is a perfect fit for energy reduction in hearables and wearables, achieved by finding the minimum (stable) voltage at a given operating frequency. We have seen 60%+ energy savings for the chip designer’s processor of choice when
combined with Minima’s Dynamic Margining. New energy savings benchmarks such as this one will drive the industry to adopt near threshold voltage solutions. We’re seeing the increase in the number of customer opportunities happen this year which is why we applied for the EIC Accelerator To meet the market demand, we need to scale both via our solution delivery technology and customer support resource. Hearables and wearables remain a very active area for us. We see also an increasing demand in Edge-AI / AIoT type devices, which are broadly expected to be the fastest growing product category among the typical always on SoCs.
4. How does Minima work with chip designers on an implementation? What do the chip designers need to be prepared to do and what does Minima provide? Will that model need to change to scale up the company?
Minima’s approach to what the industry has known as DVFS combined with AVS is totally new because we can scale to the optimal energy dynamically. It means that we are working with customers earlier than design implementation, we’re working with them at the architectural phase to help implement Dynamic Margining for their application case. At implementation time, we are process technology agnostic, compatible with the standard EDA flows and basically can enable the adaptive voltage scaling, enabled by our Dynamic Margining technology, down to threshold voltage level at any given process node.
5: What’s in store from Minima in the next 12 months as we look ahead to 2022?
Minima is continually improving our Dynamic Marging solution to make it as automated and tooled as possible for implementation, something we plan to do with the increased funding. The market opportunity in hearables, wearables plus IoT radios, MCUs, image recognition and edge AI is huge for us, it’s a multi-billion dollar revenue opportunity for us.