King’s College, Cambridge.
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LONDON – British chip designer Arm has co-founded a new start-up accelerator in Cambridge to try to help young “deep tech” companies grow into the next generation of tech giants.
Arm, widely regarded as the “crown jewel”
So-called deep tech companies aim to create new intellectual property by breaking technological ground in an attempt to solve complex problems.
Adam Bastin, vice president of business development at Arm, said in a statement that Cambridge “has been a critical hub for talent, creativity and innovation” from Arm’s earliest days in a stable just outside the city back in the early 1980s.
“In founding Deeptech Labs, we are excited to support the next generation of gaming-changing technology companies by helping them access the world-class Cambridge technology ecosystem,” he said.
In return for a share of the equity, typically 5% to 20%, Deeptech Labs start-ups offer £ 350,000 ($ 495,000), access to a three-month development program and networking opportunities.
Deeptech Labs CEO Miles Kirby told CNBC on Friday: “I’ve seen a lot of deep-tech founders, who may be academics or engineers, and they have great technology, but they’re really struggling to go from a technology to a business.”
He added: “You see a lot of companies failing in that phase-to-series A phase because they do not find the right market appropriate or they do not find the right business model. We really help to tackle it.”
Kirby, who previously worked at Qualcomm for 18 years and drove an accelerator while there, said Deeptech Labs looked at about 900 companies for its original cohort before choosing five: AutoFill, BKwai, Circuit Mind, Contilio and Mindtech .
For example, Circuit Mind aims to build a platform that enables engineers to design printed circuit boards in a matter of hours using AI software, while Contilio is working on a 3D analytics platform to help the construction industry understand, predict and deliver complex construction projects cheaper, faster and more sustainable.
While London is home to most of the UK technology companies, Cambridge has created some of the country’s most innovative companies that have caught the eye of US technology giants – Apple bought voice tech company VocalIQ in 2015 to improve Siri, while Amazon bought Evi to boost Alexa in 2013. The city is also home to fast-growing start-ups such as Darktrace as well as large Amazon and Microsoft labs.
There are dozens of tech accelerators around the world. Y Combinator, where Airbnb, Stripe and Reddit were born, is perhaps the most famous, but Google, Facebook, Microsoft and many other big technology companies have similar projects. While they clearly have some benefits for the founders, some have questioned whether entrepreneurs should sacrifice equity or go it alone.