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The University of Southampton

Southampton company takes on the American ‘Dragons’

Published: 9 November 2009

Cascoda Ltd, a SETsquared partnership company based at the University of Southampton, has flown out to Boston, USA, at the weekend to face an American Dragon’s Den “style” group of venture capitalists.

Bruno Johnson, CEO, will be given the opportunity to deliver a 10-minute pitch to the panel with the aim of securing up to $5m of the $13m available for investment. Joining him on the trip will be three other entrepreneurs from partnering universities, seeking to acquire a share of the pot up for grabs.

This crucial investment will enable the company to complete the development of its low-power wireless technology, which is a key enabler for the next generation of smart energy efficient homes, offices and industrial plants. Cascoda's technology achieves this through the automation and control of heating, air-conditioning, lighting and monitoring systems.

Speaking of the opportunity, Bruno Johnson comments: “The US Government is delivering tens of billions of dollars of matched funding of the clean-tech industry. This is clearly a fantastic stimulus for growth and is one which we and others cannot afford to ignore.”

The SETsquared partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Southampton and Surrey that helps early-stage, high-tech and high-growth potential ventures get on the road to success. SETsquared is the largest government-funded, privately-backed support programme of its kind in the UK.

David Bream, Director of SETsquared Business Acceleration at the University of Southampton, also commented on the opportunity and what it would mean for Cascoda, he said: "Cascoda have made great progress in the last 12 months with both their technology and business development. They now need a significant investment of 'intelligent' venture capital to fuel their growth."

Cascoda was founded by Wolfgang Bruchner and Bruno Johnson, in Johnson’s spare room in April 2007. Starting out as design and development consultants, they were quick to win contracts from top tier UK and European semiconductor companies.

At the beginning of 2008, the expended team began researching markets and technologies that would allow the company to move to a high growth business model. As part of this process, the company joined the SETsquared partnership.

Since joining SETsquared, Cascoda has realised an innovation that will solve a major problem in today’s radios for automation and control. This innovation will allow for operation from a coin battery (or button cell) for a greater than 5 years, whilst maintaining the industry’s highest level of radio reliability.

The trip to the US is an opportunity that early stage high-tech companies, such as Cascoda, would be foolish to miss. The US clean-tech industry has received a major boost from the 2009 Stimulus Package, which is driving a new cycle of innovation and is attracting considerable investment.

The 10-minute pitch in front of the dragons won’t intimidate Bruno, who recently presented at the 6th annual SETsquared Partnership Investment Showcase 2009, in London, an event which attracts an audience of over 120 venture capitalists, angel investors and high net worth individuals.

Bruno said: “I have had some valuable opportunities to pitch to potential investors and I intend to draw on these experiences to really impress in the US, I am really looking forward to it.”



Notes for editors

1. Cascoda is a leading semiconductor IP and design services provider, offering end-to-end expertise in the design of high speed low power semiconductor devices. The company is experienced in all stages of ASIC design and development, from initial concept to full custom layout, verification and foundry sign-off.

2. The trip has been organised by the SETsquared partnership and is being co-funded by the UK Trade & Investment.

3. A partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Southampton and Surrey, SETsquared is the largest government-funded, privately-backed support programme of its kind in the UK. Since being set up in 2002, the partnership has supported more than 100 ventures. Much of its success comes from the unique way it brings together the research strengths of the universities and private sector commercial expertise.

SETsquared helps early-stage, high-tech, high-growth potential ventures get on the road to success. The partnership provides serviced office space, business guidance and mentoring as well as access to a high-calibre network of experienced entrepreneurs, potential investors and business professionals. All of this is provided for around £100 a month for up to 12 months.

4. Twenty-one early stage companies recently demonstrated their innovation in technology at the sixth annual SETsquared Partnership Investment Showcase 2009. The event, aimed at raising investment for early stage companies, provides a vital step for start-up businesses as they seek to develop and commercialise their ideas.

The showcase was held at One Great George Street, London on October 15 and attracted an audience of over 120 venture capitalists, angel investors and high net worth individuals.

Companies that have participated in the event in the past five years have raised over £100 million investment. SETsquared companies have raised over £50 million during the last 12 months, creating more than 140 new jobs.

5. The other three entrepreneurs are Robert Beat, Silicon Basis; David McSherry, Cormarent; Peter Davies, Green Running.

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