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UK-based ChipFlow secures £1.2M for its open-source semiconductor chip design platform

ChipFlow funding
Picture credits: ChipFlow

ChipFlow, a UK startup building an open-source semiconductor chip design platform (PaaS), has secured £1.2 million in pre-seed funding. The round was led by Fontinalis Partners and included investments from Fuel Ventures, InMotion Ventures (which backed Uncaged Innovations and Envisics), APX, and others. 

Growth and expansion plans

The new funding will be instrumental in expanding ChipFlow’s team, enabling the company to attract top-tier engineering talent to further enhance its open-source software tools and accelerate product development efforts, while supporting the progression of its early commercial engagements.

“We believe that open-source silicon design represents a transformational shift that is occurring, and we founded ChipFlow to be at the forefront of that movement,” commented Rob Taylor, CEO and co-founder at ChipFlow. “This round of capital, and importantly the investors behind it, serves both as early validation to the global scale of our vision and provides the firepower to execute upon our ambitions.”

“Open source maturation has changed business models and vastly increased overall market opportunity in every industry where it has occurred,” commented Tomi Rantakari, CCO. ‘’Even today, existing Open Source hardware coupled with our core platform enables us to build custom ICs for Electronic Manufacturers at a greatly reduced cost. This funding, along with funding from the British Government  – Innovate UK, enables us to bring this capability directly to the whole embedded electronics market, enabling companies to directly drive their own innovation and supply chain resilience.”

“We admire the impressive work that Rob and his team have been able to achieve in building the foundation for ChipFlow on a bootstrapped budget, and we are thrilled to support the company alongside a great group of investors that have joined Fontinalis Partners in backing the company,” commented Dan Ratliff, Principal at Fontinalis Partners. “We’re still in the early innings for open-source silicon design, but we recognize several supportive tailwinds that align well with ChipFlow’s thoughtful approach to scaling its team and technology in close collaboration with industry players and this open-source movement.”

“The recent semiconductor shortages highlighted fundamental issues within value chains across multiple industries. Novel platforms like ChipFlow are critical in enabling manufacturers to innovate faster and better by reducing development cycles, increasing supply chain control and business resilience,” commented Sam Nasrolahi, Principal at InMotion Ventures. ‘’It’s exciting to see a UK startup pioneering a semiconductor design approach with the potential to enhance JLR’s next-generation vehicles and services.”

Democratises semiconductor design

Founded in 2021 by a group of experienced open-source software and semiconductor executives, including Rob Taylor, Tom Rantakari, and Staf Verhaegen, ChipFlow has collaborated closely with several leaders across the broader open-source software, hardware, and chip design industries, having received significant early contributions from Ian Page, Matt Venn, Michel Laudes, Catherine Zotova and Myrtle Shah. 

The open-source movement has significantly lagged for hardware development, particularly for products that require custom silicon chip design and fabrication where the costs, partnerships, tools, and expertise required create significant barriers. ChipFlow aims to accelerate a budding transformation that’s occurring in open-source silicon design by integrating and building upon a set of novel tools and datasets being developed in real time.

To date, ChipFlow is building upon Amaranth, a novel, Python-based hardware description language that transforms productivity for designing digital ICs. Its platform provides cloud-scalable debug, test, simulation, and formal verification frameworks out of the box, connecting this with both industry standard semiconductor foundries and novel IC manufacturing processes, like plastic chips, GaN and SiGe.

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