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15 April 2016

ACCO raises $35m in funding round led by Bpifrance

ACCO Semiconductor Inc of Sunnyvale, CA, USA, a fabless provider of RF front-end components manufactured using standard high-volume bulk CMOS processes for smart-phone and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, has closed a $35m funding round — claimed to be one of the largest funding commitments to a private semiconductor company in the last 12 months. ACCO, a French-American company whose main R&D center is based near to Paris, is currently accelerating its business into various brands of LTE smart phones now found in several countries throughout Asia and Europe.

ACCO has developed and patented RF front-end technology for mobile communications devices (power amplifiers and antenna switches) that uses standard complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) processing. The firm's bulk CMOS cellular power amplifier offers highly linear performance yet can operate at high power without breakdown or degradation, which was previously considered impossible, it is claimed. The use of CMOS in the RF front-end improves functionality at a reduced size and cost for both smart-phones and the Internet of Things, as well as leveraging the mature, reliable, high-volume CMOS supply chain.

Market research firm Strategy Analytics estimates that the mobile power amplifier (PA) market at $3.5bn, representing a significant business opportunity for ACCO. The growth projections for cellular-connected IoT devices will further expand this potential. "Designing the RF front-end of an LTE phone to support regional and global cellular bands has gotten extraordinarily difficult," notes Christopher Taylor, director of RF & Wireless Components at Strategy Analytics. "Starting with monolithic integration of the PAs and switches, bulk CMOS has great potential for simplifying the RF front-end and making it more space efficient and less costly — satisfying a critical need in the cell-phone industry," he adds.

This latest round is led by the French national industrial bank Bpifrance, through its growth fund Large Venture, with participation from investors in both the USA and France including Foundation Capital, Pond Ventures, Partech Ventures, Omnes Capital, Siparex Group and A Plus Finance. The investment is timed to support the launch of ACCO's newest generation of industry-standard RF front-end CMOS solutions and will provide working capital as well as R&D funds for next-generation products while enabling the company to add incremental local support for its increasing customer base.

ACCO's cellular radio component "dramatically reduces cost and complexity," says Nicolas Herschtel, investment director at Bpifrance Large Venture. "We believe ACCO's highly integrated technology perfectly fits the industry requirements and that this new equity round will enable the company to scale and achieve its commercial goals," he adds.

"ACCO's proprietary and patented high-breakdown voltage CMOS transistor has broken the code on size and power efficiency in 4G power amplifiers," comments Rich Redelfs, general partner at Foundation Capital and chairman of ACCO. "ACCO now has the resources to scale and obsolete expensive gallium arsenide (GaAs) power amplifiers used in today's mobile phones," he adds.  

"The commitment from Bpifrance and other participating investors validates the importance of building the RF front-end in bulk CMOS — the process used in nearly the entire electronics industry," says ACCO's president & CEO Greg Caltabiano. "Not only is this important for smart phones, but also critical to IoT where highly integrated, highly functional, low-cost solutions will drive success of the entire market." 

See related items:

ACCO starts mass production of CMOS multi-mode multi-band power amplifier for 3G/LTE smartphones

Tags: CMOS PAs GaAs PAs

Visit: www.acco-semi.com

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