Hermann Hauser invests in MEMS speaker startup

January 23, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
Venture capitalist Herman Hauser, the co-founder of companies that went on to become ARM, has participated in a €12 million (about $13 million) round of investment in USound GmbH, a developer of a piezoelectric MEMS platform for the creation of MEMS micro-speakers.

The lead investor is Austrian venture capital firm eQventure based in Graz, where USound is also headquartered. The firm brought in Vienna-born Hauser as an angel investor.

USound is a fabless company that works with niobium-doped lead zirconate titanate (Nb-doped PZT) amongst other materials to create piezoelectric MEMS. It also intends to use advanced packaging technology to integrate ASICs, MEMS micro speakers and passives in one component with thin and compact form factors.

USound's was expecting to see pre-production samples in units 4Q16 and first shipments of production units in 2Q17. USound is partnered with X-Fab Semiconductor Foundries AG (Erfurt, Germany), which provides MEMS foundry services, amongst others.

The financing, when of the largest in a European semiconductor startup for many years, will be used to double staffing levels and accelerate growth, the company said.

"With the fresh capital we can swiftly start mass production," said USound CEO Ferruccio Bottoni, in a statement.

"Several well-known hardware producers have expressed interest in our product. First customer orders have been booked. Our current priority is the serial production, and for this we aim to increase our personnel from roughly 30 engineers to almost 50," he added. "Headphones are only a starting point. Our product is set to have an impact across all aspects of life as it enables a new paradigm for audio smart systems in portable devices," he concluded.

In the same statement Hauser said: "The company is led by an excellent management team with a wealth of experience and impressive track record in microsystem technology. I am convinced that USound can soon lead the billion-dollar micro speaker market into the digital age."

Related links and articles:

www.usound.com

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