News Column

Microprocessor firm wins Pounds 15m investment from major players ; Technology

July 23, 2014

Gavin Thompson; Gavin Thompson Assistant Editor (Business) gavin.thompson@b- nm.co.uk

AFIRM that designs microprocessors has secured more than $26 million (Pounds 15 million) of investment from some major technology players including Bosch and Huawei.

XMOS was originally a spin-off from Bristol University and now employs about 40 people at its Wine Street headquarters and another 30 around the globe.

The company designs multi-core microprocessors used in devices ranging from headphones to lawnmowers. This big investment will allow the firm to develop future generations of its processors, which it hopes will be used in even more devices.

XMOS chief operating officer Mark Lippett said the firm made "platform technology".

He said: "Sony has been using our technology in the audio space; we also have customers using the same chips in laser etching devices and robotic spiders.

"These are very flexible processors and have a breadth of reach across multiple markets.

"Our strategy to build on that broad base and we are very ambitious." He said the company would be taking on staff, but would not be splashing its cash recklessly.

Mark said aside from the cash, the investment was a great signal to other potential customers.

"These [investors] are three important companies which feel confident enough to put money behind us," he said.

Both Huawei and Bosch Group are both potential customers for XMOS.

The former is a Chinese-based IT solutions firm which recently announced plans for a research centre in Bristol. The latter is best known for its sound equipment from hi-fis to headphones but is also a leading supplier of technology for the automotive, building and energy industries. The third new investor is Xilinx Technology Ventures, the investment arm of Silicon Valley-based Xilinx, which works in a similar sphere to XMOS.

As strategic investors the companies will more than likely leave XMOS to get on with developing new products, recognising that new companies are often more agile when it comes to development and ideas, but cash in on the profits.

Hongquan Jiang, investment prin-ciple at Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH who will be joining the XMOS board, described the firm as "one of the most exciting young semiconductor companies around today". He said: "We see a huge potential for their intelligent multi-core technology in various sectors of our parent company."

Steve Chu, chief strategy officer and vice President at Huawei's silicon division, added: "We have a very high regard for the team at XMOS and will be working closely with them on a number of exciting new projects." And despite the extra cash in the coffers, Mark said the firm would continue to be run "on a sound business footing".

"It's about finding the right staff for projects," he said, adding: "We are well embedded in Bristol and draw talent from around here.

"Without that pool of talent we would not be able to do what we do."


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Source: Bristol Evening Post (England)


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