Gary Smith considers the quest for the $10K chip

At the Design Automation Conference in June 2012, tech blogger JL Gray posed a question: Can you build a chip to prototype, that would interest a potential investor to take it all the way to production, for $10,000?  The question launched a 6-month investigation by New Tech Press to get an answer.  Dozens of entrepreneurs, analysts, investors and engineers accepted invitations to discuss the subject.  While most wished to remain anonymous a few agreed to go as far as to be captured on video. We will be rolling out the series for the next few weeks with links to several articles in other publications.  The video platform we are using is from meBox! Media that will allow viewers to interact with and share the content on a broad level.  We encourage your input in comments on this site, however if you wish to remain anonymous, you can send private comments directly to us by clicking on the email button on each video.  Hover your cursor over the screen to expose the engagement buttons. The series we start today is the best of those meetings, anchored with a three-part interview with Gary Smith, chief analyst for GarySmithEDA.  Gary starts with the basics of the question, starting from the use of low-cost FPGAs and free tools, through the actual costs of manufacturing and ways to keep tool costs low.

Gary Smith on the Cost of IC design

Poland a bright spot in EU fiscal woes

Recently, bad economic news has been almost a daily occurrence out of the European Union, but there are occasional bright spots that miss the regular news cycle.  Poland seems to be one of them. Poland is due to become an official member of the Euro Zone in January 2012 and is obliged, under the terms of the Treaty of Accession 2003, to replace its current currency, the Zloty, with the Euro, however, the country may adopt the Euro no earlier than 2019.  That's probably good news for Polish start ups that seem to be able to find plenty of government support and venture capital for a raft of innovative technologies.

Footwasher Media's Lou Covey sat down with three Polish startup companies touring Silicon Valley recently, as they were on the hunt for partners and investors to help them expand into the US.  The three companies were Ekoenergetyka with electric vehicle charging technology, virtual environment maker i3d , and a chemical synthesis innovator called Apeiron.

This interview is the first in a series of reports and interviews on the state of European innovation and efforts of the European Commission's Digital Agenda.



Five companies you might have missed at ESC-SV 2011

The Embedded Systems Conference, especially the Silicon Valley edition, is an eclectic collection of cutting edge technology. This year, ESC-SV 2011 was no exception. Yes, there were the regular software, RTOS, component and design services companies, but there was also significant presence of distributors like DigiKey and element14 that were drawing a lot of attention. On the periphery of the exhibition were the companies that lack the marketing resources of the major players and while most were satisfied by the amount of customer traffic, they were a little wistful about the lack of attention they were getting from the press. Luckily for them, New Tech Press was there, and boy did we find some cool companies.

So here are five of the companies that weren’t among the usual suspects at ESC, and that you might have missed.


New EU movement looks to change how startups are done

The 12 Entrepreneurs, an unusual movement made up of start-up leaders, government representatives and service providers from Europe and the US, launched officially recently at the PlugandPlay Center in Sunnyvale with the goal of developing a new model for funding and supporting startups. Here is the interview: Founders of the group, Roman Tolic of Austria- based Hercules Film Network, and Emmanuel Carraud of MagicSolver of the UK, formed the organization with the purpose of building bridges between the centers of innovation around the world, finance visionary projects and create jobs in the US and Europe.  While the initial group is made of the “founding 12,” Carraud said, “Membership is open to anyone who is interested in the potential of building a bridge between Europe and Silicon Valley.”

“The 12 Entrepreneurs do not represent any single organization, but rather an ideal of inter-supportive entrepreneurship for the coming decade,” Tolic explained. “The 12 want to make the world a better place for entrepreneurs everywhere.”

Speakers at the event included Saeed Amidi, founder of PlugandPlay, and Ida Rose Sylvester, managing partner at Silicon Valley Link, both of whom highlighted the innovation potential in Europe and the struggle to bring a successful and cohesive approach to supporting startups on a pan-European basis.  Sylvester pointed out that while there are literally hundreds of organizations in the Silicon Valley representing separate regional development agencies, until now, there has never been a  concentrated effort to support all of Europe.

After the speakers concluded, Tolic announced that the Belgian government and the Vienna IT Enterprises have made formal financial commitments to the movement.

A highlight of the event was the signing of a manifesto outlining the group’s goals and purposes.  Signers included entrepreneurs and government representatives from Austria, France, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Romania, Poland, Portugal, Norwey, Italy, Czech Republic, Centrope Region (encompassing Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary), Sweden, and the US

Following the presentations, group members and the audience of more than 40 interested parties began a brainstorming session on what the next steps for the organization should be, including:

  • Expanded and financed access to resource partners
  • Open networking opportunities
  • Creative funding approaches
  • Crowdsourcing to resolve manpower issues
  • Co-innovation to roll up potential competitor into stronger companies
  • Encouraging investors to get in for the longer term
  • Find better customers and make those customer better
  • Open university workshops in entrepreneurialism

Tolic and Carraud have left for Europe to attend to the businesses but also to meet formally with the European Commission, government leaders and business organizations that have expressed interest in supporting the organization.  In the US, the movement will be led by Prasad K. R. an angel investor for mobile software companies; Carles Cabret,  a business development associate for the Spanish incubator Inspirit, and Lou Covey, a Silicon Valley communications strategist.

12 Entrepreneurs is on Facebook and Linkedin.