French industrial IoT startup TiHive has raised a total of €8.6m ($10m) to scale up production of its CMOS-based terahertz imaging sensor chip.
The backing comes as a grant and equity from the EIC Accelerator program, a European Innovation Council scheme within the framework of Horizon 2020.
“The really cool thing is the EC has funded academic organisation or SMEs via grants but now have seen they go beyond that, so €2.3m is a grant and €6.3m is in equity as a partners and we will be attracting other investors,” said Hani Sherry, CEO and co-founder of TiHive in Grenoble, France.
“They won’t be a majority shareholder, it’s like a Series A and will own a part of the company, so it is actually a pretty big round but we are phasing it,” he said. “This development is capital intensive so we need cash and Europe would like to boost strategic technologies in Europe and they have identified us as the leader in the technology. They would like to behave like VCs with a return on investment and the idea is to continue investing.” An ‘EU representative’ will sit on the board.
The chip is built in 65nm and the company says it has multiple foundry partnerships, including a partnership with ST. The terahertz sensor is combined with AI processing to simplify detection of contaminants and errors on a production line.
“We have tried multiple nodes, including 28FD-SOI, and we have mastered the different technologies. 65nm is a sweet spot for us, it has fantastic performance and a good cost at large scale and it has the libraries available,” said Sherry. “We operate from a few hundred GHz to 1THz and we have demonstrated chips at 2 and 3THz but for the applications we have found the unexplored applications range from 300 to 600GHz, that’s a major area.”
“We have succeeded in generating and detecting terahertz in CMOS and we