Venture Capital Flows into Dutch Semiconductor Equipment Sector
By Archibald Preuschat
Russian venture capital fund Rusnano said Thursday it will inject 40 million euros ($49.6 million) in Mapper Lithography, a chip equipment provider founded in 2000, in the latest example of venture capital flowing into the Dutch semiconductor equipment industry.
The sum will be matched by Mapper’s existing shareholders. These include Arthur del Prado, co-founder of larger peer ASML Holding NV (ASML.AE). The investment mirrors similar investment in ASML earlier this summer.
Semiconductor equipment is a key technology as developments could enable chip makers to produce more powerful and more energy-efficient chips. Energy efficiency is important for chips used in mobile gadgets like smartphones, which are becoming more and more powerful, but still lack a long battery life. The equipment sector, however, is unwilling to take on the financial burden and the risks of research and development alone.
Mapper Lithography and ASML have similar objectives, but use different technologies. While ASML uses extreme ultraviolet light to map out electronic circuits on silicon wafers, Mapper Lithography uses its own patented technique based on parallel electron beams.
Recently, two of the world’s largest chip makers took a non-voting stake in ASML and provided funding for the company’s research and development as part of the Dutch semiconductor company’s co-investment program for its customers.
Intel Corp. (INTC) said in mid-July it would take up to a 15% stake in ASML for €2.5 billion and will provide €830 million for research and development. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSM) will take a 5% stake for €838 million and support ASML’s research and development with another €276 million. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930.SE) of South Korea is also expected to take part in the program.