GRENOBLE, France, June 16, 20006 -- Crocus Technology, a company focusing on Magnetic Random Access Memories (MRAM), today announced the closing of its Series A round of funding totaling $17 million. The round's participants include San Francisco-based Sofinnova Ventures (lead investor), Paris-based firms Ventech, CDC Entreprises Innovation, AGF Private Equity and Sofinnova Partners, and NanoDimension. Crocus will leverage its innovative technology with the goal to become the world leader in this exciting MRAM market.
Crocus was first incorporated in France in 2004 with an initial grant from CEA Valorisation and FIST, the subsidiaries of CEA and CNRS, France's leading research organizations, dedicated to spinning off promising new technologies into the private sector. Crocus is headquartered in Grenoble (France) with operations in the Paris area and in Silicon Valley (California). The MRAM technology that is the foundation on which Crocus is built was developed in the Grenoble-based SPINTEC research center. The related patents and know-how are being transferred to Crocus and will be continuously improved through formal joint development programs between the company, Spintec and other European laboratories.
MRAM memories uniquely combine several key features of other existing memory technologies. They are non-volatile, have a fast read and write speed, an SRAM like interface, an extended lifetime, and a low manufacturing cost.
"We are very excited by the tremendous market potential for MRAM because the mobile and networking industries, among others, need this new type of memory," said Eric Buatois, Managing Director with Sofinnova Ventures. "We looked in detail at all other MRAM technologies and always came back to Crocus. We believe that the company has what it takes to become the leader in this high growth market: a world-class R&D team, a strong patent portfolio, and a very experienced management team," Buatois explained.
The proceeds from this fund raising will allow Crocus to hire engineers and scientists in process engineering, test and design from all over Europe and the US. Crocus is also acquiring specialized equipment, which will enable the company to complete a first memory test vehicle in the next 12 months and its first commercial product shortly thereafter.
"This first round, quite unique in this technology area, is a defining moment for Crocus," commented Jean-Pierre Braun, CEO of Crocus. "We now have everything we need to be the first to bring to the marketplace a competitive MRAM memory that will fulfill the customers' expectations, in particular with regards to reliability, speed and capacity," Braun added.
There are many important applications for MRAM memory. They are an ideal fit for mobile phones, PDA's, smart cards, notebook computers, RFID tags, as well as automotive and military applications.
Crocus' board includes: Jean Bourcereau, General Partner with Ventech; Eric Buatois, General Partner with Sofinnova Ventures; Michel Desbard, Venture Partner with CDC Entreprises Innovation; Jean-Pierre Braun, CEO; and other well known semiconductor personalities including Jacques Noels, CEO of Nemoptic; Guy Crespy of CEA Valorisation and Luc-Olivier Bauer.
About Sofinnova Ventures
Sofinnova Ventures is a venture capital firm emphasizing a diversified investment strategy through financing early stage companies in the life science and information technology sectors. Founded in 1974, the San Francisco-based firm currently has $600 million under management. Sofinnova's mission is to create value by providing entrepreneurs with the resources, experience and networks necessary to turn their bright ideas into thriving businesses. With deeply rooted ties to Europe's leading financial, technology and venture institutions, Sofinnova is also uniquely positioned to foster trans-Atlantic synergy and market acceleration. For more information, visit www.sofinnova.com.
Ventech is a leading French venture capital firm investing in early stage companies in the IT & communications and biotechnology sectors in France and Continental Europe. Currently managing funds totaling euro 174 million, Ventech steam targets ambitious projects which have the potential to become global leaders and uses its experience in operations and private equity, start-up companies and high-growth businesses to generate results. For more information, log on to www.ventech.fr.
About CDC Entreprises Innovation
CDC Entreprises Innovation ("CDC EI"), a subsidiary of CDC Entreprises, invests in high tech businesses with strong growth perspectives primarily in three sectors: information and communication technologies, life sciences and biotechnologies, and semi-conductor industries. The company has over euro 365M under management served by 10 professional investors. CDCEI has made numerous investments in the components and materials sector including: Nemoptic, Novaled, Tronics, TeemPhotonic.
For more information, please visit: www.cdcentreprises.fr.
About AGF Private Equity
AGF Private Equity, a subsidiary of the AGF Insurance Company, member of the Allianz Group, manages an investment portfolio of 1.5bn. The company is among the leaders in France in managing funds of funds, and is also one of the most active investors in Venture Capital. The Venture Capital team has invested in 50 high tech companies. AGF Private Equity invests about euro 30m each year in innovative firms. With euro 275m under management in its Venture Capital activity, AGF Private Equity is an active partner of growth companies. For additional information on AGF Private Equity, visit: http://www.agfpe.com.
About Sofinnova Partners
Founded in Paris in 1972, Sofinnova Partners is one of Europe's leading independent venture capital firms. With 900 million under management, Sofinnova Partners invests in start-ups and early-stage companies in information technology and lifesciences. Its investment strategy consists of investing early in teams and projects with high potential, most often acting as lead or co-lead investor. Sofinnova Partners also benefits from a long- established relationship with its sister company in San Francisco, Sofinnova Ventures. Sofinnova Partners' team consists of 9 professionals who bring market insight and technical expertise to portfolio companies. For more information, visit: www.sofinnova.fr.
NanoDimension is a venture capital firm supporting top entrepreneurial teams to build nanotech companies with the potential to become world leaders in their field. The investment activities focus on IT/Electronics and Life Sciences and on the convergence of these areas, in Europe as well as North America. NanoDimension pursues an active and comprehensive investment approach by providing the companies with financial resources, strong entrepreneurial and managerial experience and extensive scientific expertise through its team of experts. For further information: www.nanodimension.com.
About CEA Valorisation
CEA Valorisation SA. is the subsidiary of Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique (CEA) devoted to technology licensing as well as equity investment in spin-off companies originating from CEA IP and know-how. CEA is a multi-disciplinary scientific and technological research organization, specializing in the fields of nuclear energy, new energy technologies, information and communication technologies, and biotechnologies. Its ability to combine fundamental research and value enhancement within an industrial framework enables it to play a leading role in innovation. For more information, please visit: www.cea.fr.