Ottawa-based Group IV Semiconductor, the company trying to make a superior solid-state light bulb, has secured another round of funding — enough to finance it to the end of its three-year product development plan. Khosla Ventures and BDC Venture Capital provided additional financing in this round, on top of new funding from Garage Technology Ventures Canada (i.e. the first international affiliate of Guy Kawasaki’s firm) and Applied Ventures LLC (a subsidiary of Applied Materials Inc.). “Things are moving along on schedule,” Group IV president and CEO Stephen Naor told me in an interview. “We’ve made a lot of progress over the summer. We now have a very high confidence that we can scale our technology to get to the product performance parameters we need, and that we’ll do it on time.”
Naor said he couldn’t disclose the size of this latest investment, but the company’s press release described it as a “substantial” round. I got the impression it was at least higher than $10 million, but I imagine Khosla and Garage want to keep the exact amounts quiet.
Group IV’s solid-state lights are based on a single AC-powered, silicon-based chip. Silicon is cheaper than the materials used in conventional LED products, and Group IV’s manufacturing process is expected to dramatically reduce the cost of the light technology relative to LEDs. Its goal is to commercialize a long-lasting and high-quality lighting technology that is comparable to LEDs, competitively priced with compact fluorescent lights (in the range of $3 to $4 per bulb), but mercury-free and dimmable. Naor said the company has two years left in its three-year product development plan.
He said the involvement of Applied Materials will be key. In fact, it’s huge. The company is the largest silicon-processing equipment provider in the United States, with $9 billion in annaul revenues, and is expected to help Group IV develop a low-cost manufacturing process for its product. “They’re very interested in solid-state lighting,” said Naor. “Our intention and their intention is to collaborate to ensure that development is done in a way that minimizes manufacturing costs.”