Deeptech
Q1 202404.01.2024

Semiconductors

Picture of Éanna Kelly

Éanna Kelly

at Sifted

Advanced chipmaking equipment is a European strength — success stories include the region’s most valuable tech company, Eindhoven-based ASML, which holds a global monopoly on extreme ultraviolet lithography machines, and Germany’s Carl Zeiss SMT, a specialist in making mirrors and lenses used in the world’s most advanced chipmaking equipment.

But there are strategic holes in the region too. The market has moved rapidly in favour of companies building graphics processing units, the workhorses that underpin what many are calling the biggest tech advance of the decade: generative AI. Silicon Valley’s NVIDIA designs the semiconductors of choice for many AI servers; meanwhile, chip design startups focused on AI in Europe are still trying to make a name for themselves.

With the EU forecasting a doubling in demand for semiconductors between 2022 and 2030, expect to see chips firmly on the menu over the coming years, with governments piling money into factories and frontier research to build domestic capacity. The gold rush promises big profits for those who harness the technology’s potential.

20 most promising early-stage semiconductor startups

  • Axelera AI logo

    Sifted score

    8.32
    -

    Axelera AI

    Streamlined AI for edge computing

    • Serial founder(s)
    • Hiring
    • Year founded

      2021

    • HQ

      Eindhoven, Netherlands

    • Latest round

      Series A
      20.9m / May 2023

    • Total funding

      56.4m

  • Salience Labs logo

    Sifted score

    7.77
    -

    Salience Labs

    Photonic chips for high-speed data processing

    • Strong investor(s)
    • Serial founder(s)
    • Year founded

      2020

    • HQ

      Oxford, United Kingdom

    • Latest round

      Grant
      2.4m / Feb 2023

    • Total funding

      16.4m

  • Innatera Nanosystems logo

    Sifted score

    7.75
    -

    Innatera Nanosystems

    Brain-inspired processors for efficient pattern recognition.

    • Strong investor(s)
    • Hiring
    • Year founded

      2018

    • HQ

      Rijswijk, Netherlands

    • Latest round

      Grant
      2.5m / Jan 2023

    • Total funding

      7.5m

  • SynSense logo

    Sifted score

    7.01
    -

    SynSense

    • Strong investor(s)
    • Serial founder(s)
    • Year founded

      2017

    • HQ

      Zurich, Switzerland

    • Latest round

      Early VC
      12m / Apr 2023

    • Total funding

      13.2m

  • CELUS GmbH logo

    Sifted score

    6.9
    -

    CELUS GmbH

    Automated electronics design using AI

    • Strong investor(s)
    • Hiring
    • Year founded

      2018

    • HQ

      Munich, Germany

    • Latest round

      Series A
      25m / Jul 2022

    • Total funding

      30m

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