Take a sector under pressure, and a company providing an innovative and disruptive solution. Add substantial financial support: you have all the ingredients for an announced success.
The sector under pressure is that of semiconductors, which has experienced a shortage since Covid. The disruptive company is Menta. Founded in 2007 in Montpellier, it is a pioneer in reprogrammable semiconductors.
After having developed with the €8.5 million contributed by the family investment fund FJV Development, which holds 87% of the capital – the rest is in the hands of employee shareholders –, this spin-off from LIRMM (Laboratoire d’informatique , robotics and microelectronics of Montpellier), based in Sophia Antipolis since 2014, recently obtained a €7.5 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Divided into two tranches of €3.75 million, “This financing will help us accelerate the commercialization of our products and services in edge computing”specifies Vincent Markus, its CEO.
A wise choice since this IT field which processes data generated by devices connected to the edge of the network rather than transferring it to the cloud or a datacenter is growing very rapidly and should weigh 225 billion dollars by 2025.
The strength of Menta deeptech? Its Origami Programer embedded hardware programming software.
It makes it possible to reprogram micro-electronic chips after they have been produced: these are soft IP eFPGAs (Embedded Field Programmable Gate Array).
“Algorithm development goes faster than chip design time, explains Vincent Markus. Once produced, the technology it offers is often outdated. Embedding our eFPGAs overcomes this stillborn chip problem. Our software application means that market access is very fast: between two and six months, compared to two to three years for our competitors”smiles, satisfied, CEO.
And it has something to smile about because this 100% proprietary technology is flexible, secure, high performance, low power consumption and accelerates the computing power of the chips used in edge computing.
“We have the only European intellectual property solution in embedded programmable logic”he boasts.
So many qualities that interest defence, space, 5G but also the automobile, artificial intelligence, cryptography and the entire Internet of industrial objects. Among its clients, several American agencies financed by Darpa [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, l’agence du département de la Défense américaine chargée de la recherche et développement des nouvelles technologies destinées à un usage militaire, ndlr]; the Fraunhofer Institute, specializing in applied science research; the integrated circuit designer Trusted Semiconductor Solutions with whom Menta has just signed a partnership; or the Chinese Chongxin Bada, expert in 5G.
“Our eFPGAs are also on the facial recognition platform of a major German car manufacturer”confides Vincent Markus.
In short, a mature technology, a company that is both agile and follows highly industrialized processes: “All the planets are aligned”, continues the leader who has on his board sizes of international experience in industry, technology and finance: Laurent Collet-Billon, former head of the DGA; Philippe Delmas, former vice-president of Airbus; Henri Proglio, former boss of EDF; Christian Streiff, former president of Airbus and PSA, to name a few.
“The EIB financing allows us to accelerate, to recruit four people to expand our teams of engineers and sales staff to 24.”
After having achieved a 2020 turnover of €2.5M and having broken even this year, Menta is aiming for between €4 and €6M in 2022.
Above all, it is betting on the billion by 2027. How? By striving to consolidate European sovereignty in the world of microelectronics, via two strategic development projects. The first, Mosaic 3DS, as part of France Relance and valued at €60 million, aims to create a “universal interposer” that would allow chips from different manufacturers to communicate with each other. “Menta leads the consortium which also brings together Valeo, Vsora and the CEA-List.”
Also with CEA-List and STMicroelectronics, the second project, Foster-3D, aims to compete with the Americans by developing a modular super-component by 3D assembly of several FPGA circuits.
To do this, the Sophia Antipolis deeptech has just embarked on a €25m fundraiser. Success programming in progress.
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How the Sophia Antipolis Menta deeptech plans its success
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