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$44 million funding for “milliwatts-to-kilowatts” switch

Business news |
By Ally Winning

The company’s “Ideal Switch” technology is offered as combining the benefits of electromechanical relays and solid-state switches into the best of both worlds, bringing massive reductions in size, weight, power, and cost to multiple industries. The latest funding, says the company, will help it expand production of what it describes as “the most revolutionary electronic component since the transistor” from engineering quantities in 2020 to millions of units in 2021.

“This is a major milestone for Menlo Micro and the deployment of the Ideal Switch,” says Russ Garcia. “This round of financing will enable us to significantly accelerate our product development and the scaling of our production lines. It is an incredible validation that our investors are standing behind our truly disruptive technology and our team at a time of so much uncertainty around the world.”

The company’s switch operates up to 1000x faster than a typical mechanical relay, can handle kilowatts of power, and is built in a structure smaller than a human hair. By combining the key benefits of both electromechanical and solid-state technologies, says the company, the Ideal Switch provides users with a 99% or more reduction in key system-level metrics including performance, size, weight, power consumption, and cost, offering key benefits in applications such as the following:

  • Radio performance in critical defense, government, radar, and commercial communications networks
  • RF/Microwave switching with applications including 5G cell networks, radio, satellite, and Wi-Fi
  • The transition to 5G, reducing losses, improving efficiency, and supporting the deployment of new frequency bands and vital measurement equipment
  • Consumer cell phone usage, including fewer dropped calls, higher data rates (high speed/higher capacity), improved coverage, and longer battery life

Throughout the past year the company has sampled products from its new production line to over 30 lead customers in its core target market groups including 5G mobile networks, aerospace and defense, and test and measurement. The latest funding, says the company, will also enable it to accelerate its expansion into new markets over the next few years, leveraging the Ideal Switch ability to handle kilowatts of power, creating additional opportunities in industrial IoT, home automation, electric vehicles, medical instrumentation, quantum computing and more.

Over the last 30 months, the company has completed the transfer and qualification of its Ideal Switch manufacturing process, moving from a 4-inch research fab to a new 8-inch high-volume manufacturing line, allowing it to ramp production for its initial products, while significantly increasing capacity. The qualification of its manufacturing line, says the company, means it will be able to cost-effectively scale up production to over 100,000 units per month by the end of 2020 and millions per month in 2021.

The latest funding round was led by 40 North Ventures alongside San Francisco-based Piva, leading global investor Paladin Capital Group, Vertical Venture Partners, and Tony Fadell’s Future Shape.

Tony Fadell, Founder of Nest and Principal at Future Shape adds, “For 40+ years, the industry has been searching for a switch that has the perfect combination of the electromechanical relay and the silicon transistor. Menlo Micro’s Ideal Switch is a tiny, efficient, reliable micro-mechanical switch with unmatched RF performance and, counterintuitively, high-power handling of 1,000s of watts. As our world moves to the electrification and wireless of everything, Menlo Micro’s deep innovation is already triggering massive cross-industry upheaval.”

This round brings Menlo Micro to $78 million in total funding to date. Menlo Micro is also backed by Corning and Microsemi.

Menlo Microsystems

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