Applied Ventures: Scouting for Emerging Technology Trends in New Markets

By Roopan Aulakh, Investment Analyst, Applied Ventures, LLC

Roopan Aulakh, Investment Analyst, Applied Ventures, LLC

Roopan Aulakh joined Applied Ventures in 2012. Her current focus is IoT, 3D printing and opportunities in India. Prior to joining Applied Ventures, Ms. Aulakh worked as a consultant in the market expansion practice of Zinnov, a consulting firm focused on the technology sector. Prior to Zinnov, Ms. Aulakh was a Design Engineer at Freescale Semiconductor and Wipro Technologies, where she focused on System-on-Chip and Intellectual Properties in the networking domain. Ms. Aulakh received a bachelor of technology degree in electronics &communication engineering from the National Institute of Technology Jalandhar and an MBA from the Indian School of Business.

Applied Ventures is the corporate venture capital arm of Applied Materials. Our mission is to identify and invest globally in early- to mid-stage companies focused on innovations in our existing semiconductor, display and solar sectors, as well as new areas with high-growth potential. Since forming in 2005, Applied Ventures has invested in more than 62 portfolio companies, spanning equipment, materials, device and process providers in the semiconductor, display, lighting, clean energy and energy storage sectors. With a strong foundation built on Applied Materials’ four decades of materials engineering leadership, we are uniquely positioned to offer knowledge, expertise and value to startups and help accelerate product development and technology commercialization.

We actively seek out innovative, potentially disruptive technologies and ideas in both our core capabilities, as well as in adjacent or white-space areas where our leading expertise in materials engineering can add economic and social value. Our recent investment RayVio Corporation is one such example. RayVio provides semiconductor-based UV LED light sources for safe point-of-use disinfection products and applications for water, air, food, surfaces and other areas across the industrial, consumer and digital health sectors.
Other investment areas of interest include:

New processes & materials: The semiconductor industry requires process and material innovation to enable next-generation devices and keep the industry roadmap on course. To maintain the rapid pace of advances in consumer electronics, processors and sensors need to continually be faster, smaller and cheaper. Consumer devices need to be reliable, ruggedized and immersible in order to seamlessly fit into peoples’ lives.  These trends extend to flexible and wearable applications as well, with new devices now being designed with alternative display form factors that can be curved, flexible and bendable.

Healthcare: Semiconductor technology also has the potential to enable game–changing advances in healthcare by enabling the transition from traditional platforms to semiconductor-based technology to improve efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs. For example, our portfolio company, Twist Bioscience Corporation, an advanced biotechnology start-up, is developing a proprietary semiconductor-based technology platform with the potential for synthetic gene manufacturing. We expect to see similar opportunities for semiconductor technology to extend into other areas like pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics.

Manufacturing advancements: Consumer-facing device companies are constantly looking for ways to improve performance and extend the life of their manufacturing tools and equipment. Preventive maintenance using data analytics is one of the best ways to make this happen. Advanced imaging technologies can also help with improved diagnostics and inspection for manufacturing environments. This technology can even be extended to new applications like improved patient care through efficient diagnostics. Our portfolio company Passport Systems for example, is using non-intrusive 3D imaging detection technology for cargo screening systems.

Other technologies that we’re keeping an eye on include advanced robotics and automation, advanced packaging and energy efficiency. As we continue to explore investment opportunities in our served industries and beyond, we ultimately hope to address key challenges with innovative solutions that can help improve lives.

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