Steradian Semiconductors Pvt. Ltd, a deep-tech startup that is developing high-performance sensors for autonomous vehicles, has raised its first round of institutional funding, the company’s co-founder told VCCircle.
“We raised funding from Endiya Partners about two-three weeks ago,” said Ashish Lachhwani. He didn’t disclose the amount.
The venture capital firm typically invests between $300,000 and $1.6 million in a portfolio firm, according to VCCEdge, the data research platform of News Corp VCCircle.
The Bengaluru-based company was founded in early 2016 and had so far been operating with grants received from organisations such as US chipmaker Qualcomm. It has developed a device–a compact 28nm millimetre-wave imaging radar chip–that will help autonomous vehicles detect obstacles in all weather conditions.
The company will use the funding to sharpen the device’s high-resolution imaging radar solution as it prepares for trials with tier-I automotive suppliers by the end of the year.
A tier-I automotive supplier supplies components directly to original equipment manufacturers.
Lachhwani said the major market for its product is in the US and European nations. The company expects the automotive radar market to reach $6 billion by 2021. It also hopes the market will get a further push following European regulatory norms where they certify a car with five stars only if they have radars fitted.
“It is a mandate to have radars by 2020 for all cars in Europe, so driven by this push there is a big market there for us to tap,” said Lachhwani.
He explained that radars have been in use in an automotive vehicle for the past 15 years more as a safety measure, but they are slowly being used as a primary sensor mode for making decisions. “The radar with high resolution as developed by Steradian lends reliable eyes to the vehicle,” he added.
Steradian has a partnership with a Tier-1 semiconductor company in the US that manufactures the device as it is capital intensive to produce on its own.
“What we do is provide the design to the suppliers, which in turn also provides wider access to the market,” said Lachhwani. The company will adopt a royalty, or intellectual property licensing model, for generating its revenue, he added.
Abhishek Srivastava, director at Endiya Partners, said that high-resolution, affordable and scalable RFIC or radar solutions serve as a key ingredient for the evolution of autonomous driving tech, drone, gesture recognition and other emerging applications. RFIC is short for Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit.
“Led by a team of deep domain experts, Steradian’s disruptive and competitive product is well poised to address and capture this large global market potential,” said Srivastava.
Apart from Lachhwani, the company’s founders are Gireesh Rajendran, who is the CEO, Apu Sivadas, Rakesh Kumar and Alok Joshi.
The founders of Steradian have expertise in radar and wireless systems. They previously worked at companies such as Texas Instruments and Qualcomm, and hold over 50 patents, the company said in a separate statement.
Investments in deep-tech products in the areas of enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS), health-tech, fin-tech, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are gradually picking up in India.
Earlier this month, VR startup SmartVizX raised Rs 10 crore ($1.4 million) in a pre-Series A round led by the Indian Angel Network’s IAN Fund and angel fund YourNest Venture Capital.
Last month, Frontdesk AI, an artificial intelligence startup which offers automated customer service software, raised $1.1 million(Rs 7.54 crore) in seed funding led by Bengaluru-based early-stage investment firm Speciale Invest.
The early-stage VC firm had made the final close of its debut fund at Rs 175 crore (around $26 million) in January last year. It has made 10 other bets.
The venture capital fund invests in technology, healthcare and consumer services.
Its early investment include food-tech firm InnerChef; mobile app developers’ toolkit operator Hansel Software; HR software services startup Darwinbox; and virtual health clinic for women Celes Care.
Its recent investments include medical-technology startup SigTuple Technologies Pvt. Ltd; multilingual voice-based assistant platform Slang Labs; and lending startup Kissht.
It is also an investor in health and fitness startup CureFit, which was founded by Myntra co-founder Mukesh Bansal and former Flipkart executive Ankit Nagori. CureFit also counts Accel Partners, IDG Ventures, Kalaari Capital and UC-RNT Fund, a joint venture between Ratan Tata’s RNT Associates and University of California as investors.