Amphion, the leading provider of semiconductor intellectual property (SIP) for digital video and image coding system-on-chip design, has announced the closing of a US$5M funding round. ACT Venture Capital led the round, which included investment from existing investors Apax Partners’ Funds and Enterprise Equity, and new investment from Invest Northern Ireland . Amphion was advised by corporate finance house Ion Equity.
"We are delighted to have investors of this calibre help us build the company," said Dr. JG Doherty, CEO of Amphion. " These funds will enable us to expand sales and support of the innovative solutions that are giving Amphion substantial traction among the industry’s influential leaders. Moving forward, our focus is on delivering the high value solutions from our strategic roadmap that customers have identified as essential to their own future success."
Walter Hobbs, the ACT Director who led the investment, said, “Amphion has world class IP with a proven record of fitting seamlessly into major chip design projects. Its impressive blue-chip customer traction in the current difficult climate is testimony to the quality of the IP and the Amphion SIP business model.”
John McMonigall, Apax Director, commented, “We remain committed to our investment in Amphion, which has continued to demonstrate the technology leadership necessary to be successful. We are delighted to have ACT joining the investor syndicate.”
Prof. Fabian Monds, Invest NI Chairman, said, “Amphion, one of Northern Ireland’s most important advanced technology-led businesses, is an excellent example of how our Business Support Principles can be applied in conjunction with funding from venture capitalists. This has provided a business solution that will enable the company to continue its investment in innovative products that are being demanded increasingly by the global electronics industry.”
Ulric Kenny, Director at Ion Equity commented, "This is a significant fundraising in very challenging markets for SIP. It is a testament to Amphion's management team, clear market focus and highly differentiated product set. Amphion is now well positioned to scale its business towards platform SIP sales to tier 1 semiconductor and OEM customers around the world."
The SIP market has developed in recent years as OEMs and semiconductor companies increasingly buy-in reusable SIP from specialist third party vendors. Fuelling this trend is the difficulty in finding and maintaining the in-house expertise necessary to accommodate the broad scope of functionality found in today’s complex chips, as well as time-to-market pressure from competition.
Next-generation consumer electronics devices such as digital video set-top boxes, mobile phones and cameras require a leap in compute efficiency above that delivered by traditional programmable digital signal processors (DSPs) alone. It has recently been acknowledged in the industry that the only way to achieve the required performance is by utilizing application-specific hardware accelerator cores, in which Amphion is the world leader, to overcome the limitations of programmable DSPs and embedded or reconfigurable processors.
Dan Maher of ACT Venture Capital has joined the board of Amphion, which also includes John McMonigall of Apax Partners, and industry leaders Pete Magowan, formerly an executive Director at ARM Holdings Plc, and Greg Reyes, also a non-executive director at LSI Logic and ARC International.
Amphion was spun-out of The Queen’s University of Belfast and started trading in 1994 on the back of 14 years of university research into advanced DSP architectures. The founders of the business were Dr J.G. Doherty (CEO) and Prof. John McCanny (CTO), an international authority in the design of special purpose architectures and silicon chips for DSP. Since inception, Amphion has become a world-recognised supplier of the highest performance, lowest power SIP cores in the industry. Its licensees are some of the top semiconductor companies and OEMs including Matsushita (Panasonic), NEC, Sony, Xilinx, Conexant and Toshiba. Amphion currently employs 38 and is headquartered in Belfast, with sales and marketing headquartered in San Jose, California.
About ACT Venture Capital
ACT Venture Capital is the largest and most active venture capital investor in Ireland. In January, 2003 ACT announced that it had raised €170 million for its third venture capital fund, representing the largest technology focused venture capital fund raised in Europe in 2002. Investors included a number of leading Irish investment institutions as well as JP Morgan Fleming and Merrill Lynch from the U.S., Partners Group from Switzerland, Access Capital Partners from France, Extorel and VCM from Germany, and the European Investment Fund from Luxembourg. ACT’s total funds under management now amount to €350 million. ACT’s strategy is to invest primarily in Irish indigenous companies with strong innovative technologies aimed at international markets and at various stages of development. It has a portfolio of over 30 such companies, including Cape Clear, Am-Beo, Corvil, Massana, Softex, CR2, Qumas, Eblana Photonics and Scientific Systems. For additional information, visit the web site at www.actventure.com
About Apax Partners
Apax Partners is one of the world's leading private equity investment groups, operating across Europe, Israel, the United States and Japan. With over 30 years of direct investing experience, Apax Partners’ Funds provide long-term equity financing to entrepreneurs to build and strengthen world-class companies. It pursues a balanced equity portfolio strategy, investing in companies at all stages of development from early stage to buy-out in transactions ranging from €5 million to €5 billion. Apax Partners’ Funds invest in companies across its 6 chosen global sectors of telecommunications, information technology, healthcare, media, financial services, retail and consumer. Some of Apax Partners’ Funds recent technology investments include BlueArc, Damovo, Kelyan, RedM, Solid Information Technology, Sonim Technologies, Systemonic and Wisair. Apax Partners manages and advises over €12 billion on behalf of leading institutional investors around the world. For additional information, visit the web site at www.apax.com or contact Siobhan Loftus, Director of Marketing (+44 (0) 20 7872 6495, firstname.lastname@example.org).
About Enterprise Equity (NI) Limited
Enterprise Equity (NI) Limited is Northern Ireland’s longest established venture capital company with over €30 million invested. Part of the Enterprise Equity Venture Capital Group, it was established in 1987 by the International Fund for Ireland as an evergreen venture capital company. Group offices are located in Belfast, Dundalk and Galway. To date, the Group has invested €48 million in 66 Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland companies covering a broad spectrum of sectors including IT, manufacturing, electronics, branded apparel, and biotechnology. For further information, please visit the website at www.eeni.com
About Invest Northern Ireland
Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI) is Northern Ireland’s economic development agency. Its mission is to accelerate economic development in Northern Ireland, applying expertise and resources to encourage innovation and achieve business success, increasing opportunity for all within a renewed culture of enterprise. Through the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship and a strategy based on partnership with industry, academia and the wider community, Invest NI is working to continue Northern Ireland’s transformation into a knowledge-led economy driven by increasingly successful, export-led companies. For further information, please visit the website at www.investni.com
About ION Equity
Ion Equity is a dynamic corporate finance firm and venture capital investor. Drawing together an exceptionally experienced team from international investment banks, Ion provides world-class advice to the Irish technology and growth sector. Ion specialises in providing full advice throughout the transaction process, from planning through to completion. Ion also offers value-added investment to early-stage technology businesses. Further information from: www.ionequity.com