UK semiconductor tech startup raises £15m

October 22, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
UK semiconductor AI startup raises £15m
UK startup Flexciton has raised £15m (€17m, $20m) for real time optimisation in semiconductor production

The optimisation technology developed by Flexciton can drive efficiency gains of 10 per cent to boost the throughput of wafer fabs. With chips requiring 500 to 2,000 process steps, a 10 percent improvement on over 1,000 machines in a wafer fab can save tens of millions of dollars a year and speed up production.

The Series A round was led by Nadav Rosenberg of Saras Capital and will be used for more hiring. This brings the total raised so far to £21m.

The London-based company was founded in 2016 by Jamie Potter and Dennis Xenos who have worked in the optimised manufacturing field for more than ten years, with a focus on how advanced mathematics can solve manufacturing scheduling issues. The unpredictability of such complex systems can only be understood using machine learning, they say.

The team has since grown to 41, made of world-class experts, combining the disciplines of mathematics, semiconductor scheduling, AI, optimisation, data science and software development.

“Automation is already used by many semiconductor manufacturers. However, even in advanced fabs where scheduling itself is automated, the software used to make these decisions tends to be based on predefined rules programmed by humans and determined by historical data. Yes, it can calculate different options far quicker than a human operator could, but the options are still 'best guesses' rather than optimal outcomes,” said Potter, who is CEO of Flexciton.

“Flexciton is able to create an overview of how the entire fab is operating and rapidly sift through the trillions of options available, to come up with the optimal decision at that precise point in time. Using AI-powered mathematical algorithms and Mixed Integer Linear Programming, we can analyse real-time data – not historical – and make the best choices possible based on what is happening in a fab at a given moment. Our vision is to become the best in the world at running semiconductor fabs, before turning our attention to support other manufacturers. This investment plays a key part in achieving this, as we expand our team.”

“Semiconductors are the fundamental building blocks of modern life. More than any other development of the scientific age, they have completely revolutionised the way that we work, play, communicate and learn. Demand will keep growing, and the industry must consider how to better utilise its current assets, before expanding and using further resources to meet demand. Efficiency is key. Flexciton is the first company to successfully apply this level of machine intelligence to real-world manufacturing, with hugely impressive results,” said Nadav Rosenberg, an investor who has supported the team since their early days and led the current Series A round.

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