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[January 17, 2014]

"India is a bit like Taiwan in semicon" [Hardware] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Lip-Bu Tan is the CEO of Cadence Design Systems, a global company that makes software tools to design chips and printed circuit boards, and also the chairman and founder of investment firm Walden International. Walden is in the process of establishing a $100 million fund for investments in Indian technology companies, mainly in the semiconductor space. On a visit to Bangalore, Tan talked about the fund and how excited he was about the Indian semiconductor business.


What is the latest on the fund for India? We are waiting for the Indian government's clearance. We are progressing and we also have a lot of commitments of funds from industry leaders globally. We think we should be able to announce the closing of the fund soon, and we are excited. We've taken a little bit longer than expected to get the right industrial groups to come in with us.

It's a completely India-focused fund? Yes. We already are starting to invest in companies. But I can't talk about that now. Those are from another global fund. When we close the India fund, we'll invest more in these companies. Some of the companies are good companies, so we cannot wait.

How many companies have you invested in? Four. Two are IP-related, two are fabless semiconductor chip design companies in Bangalore and Hyderabad. They are world-class companies (Lip-Bu Tan did not mention it, but one of the funded companies is known to be Ineda Systems in Hyderabad that is developing a chip for wearable devices).

What is it that excites you about India? First of all I think that it is a very big market. If you look at automotive, you look at wireless, you look at handheld, these are all exciting. There is a lot of good talent here, thanks to a lot of multinational companies which are setting up design centres and R&D teams here. Now is the time to build some entrepreneurship in fabless companies. In some ways it's like Taiwan, how it was many years ago. Now you have MediaTek, the No. 4 in the world among fabless semiconductor companies, TSMC, the No. 1 foundry. They were US trained people who went back to build those companies, and now there is a lot of US trained or even multinational trained in India. Now we can build a lot of Indian-owned semiconductor companies. Then you have innovation, more innovation.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for innovation? There's cloud, big data. If you look at the internet of things, it's 50 billion units of wearable devices. Recently I talked to the CTO at Ford. They are talking about not just connectivity, they are looking at sensors to alert you if are falling asleep at the wheel, or you're drifting. Later on you'll have sensors that will make the car self-driving. Google is right now pushing it. Your phone, what you wear can monitor your health; they can say whether you sleep well at night; how many steps you take. I wear the Fitbit; my goal is take 10,000 steps every day and I'm able to monitor that. You can measure how many calories you burn. You to do your own blood test, and then remotely send that to your doctor.

So a very personalized, connected world is emerging. I am very glad the Indian government sees the potential and also sees the security side. You need to have your own semiconductor content for national security reasons. So I am very excited, would love to partner with the government and industry leaders to drive some of this. Hopefully create 50 fabless semicon companies of $200 million revenue as India's electronic policy envisages.

(c) 2014 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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