Femtum raises $5 million CAD to commercialize lasers for semiconductor manufacturers

Seed round was led by deep tech fund i4 Capital and ELAS Technology Investment.

Québec City-based advanced manufacturing startup Femtum has closed over $5 million CAD in seed funding for its laser technology for the semiconductor industry.

The equity round was co-led by Canadian deep tech fund i4 Capital, which closed $40 million for its seed fund last year, and German high-tech fund ELAS Technology Investment. Quantacet, Boreal Ventures, Eureka, Hamamatsu Ventures, and VIGO Ventures also participated in the financing.

“Femtum is poised to solve major manufacturing issues affecting advanced semiconductor chips.”

Founded in 2017 by CEO Louis-Rafaël Robichaud and CTO Simon Duval, Femtum has developed mid-infrared fibre lasers for use in the scientific, medical, and industrial sectors. The startup is a spinoff from the Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers. 

In 2019, Femtum was one of 10 winners of the Fast Forward Challenge, an initiative aimed at helping young entrepreneurs fund their business projects. The startup has previously raised over $1 million in both dilutive and non-dilutive funding, including a pre-seed round, though the company declined to disclose the sum of that round to BetaKit.

With a headcount of 15, including 12 full-time and three part-time employees, Femtum said it is looking to be a key player in the Canadian and international semiconductor ecosystem, and plans to use the new funding to commercialize its lasers for semiconductor manufacturers. 

“This strategic investment will catalyze Femtum’s engagement with high-tech manufacturers and innovators globally; we are excited to work with world-class strategic partners for our ambitious goal of becoming a standard in semiconductor laser manufacturing,” Robichaud said in a statement.

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According to the startup’s website, the semiconductor industry currently requires materials like silicon or germanium to be precisely cut or scribed, but standard lasers are directly absorbed at the surface.

Femtum says its mid-infrared lasers are capable of penetrating semiconductors without damaging them, allowing manufacturers to precisely remove material and process semiconductors in higher volumes. 

“Femtum is poised to solve major manufacturing issues affecting advanced semiconductor chips that will lead to higher yields and improved energy efficiency,” Jean-François Grenon, founding partner at i4 Capital, said in a statement. “We are delighted to invest with such highly strategic international and domestic domain experts.”

The funding round coincides with efforts by Canada and other nations to strengthen their domestic semiconductor design and manufacturing capabilities in response to a worldwide chip shortage driven by the pandemic and escalating tensions between the United States and China.

Feature image courtesy of Femtum.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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