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CEO Update: Tuomas Hollman, Minima Processor CEO

CEO Update: Tuomas Hollman, Minima Processor CEO
by Daniel Nenni on 11-05-2021 at 6:00 am

Tuomas Hollman Minima CEO 2Tuomas Hollman is an experienced senior executive, with proficiency that ranges from strategy to product development and business management. He began his semiconductor industry career at Texas Instruments, serving for 15 years in increasingly important roles, including general management and profit and loss responsibility for multiple product lines. From Texas Instruments, Tuomas joined Exar Corporation as division vice president of power management and lighting with oversight of strategy, product development and marketing. Tuomas joined Minima Processor from MaxLinear, through its acquisition of Exar Corporation, where he continued to lead the power management and lighting products. Tuomas holds a Master of Science degree in Microelectronics Design from Helsinki University of Technology and a Master of Science degree in Economics and Business Administration from the Helsinki School of Economics, both in Finland.

Congratulations on your recent news that you have been selected in the first batch of 65 companies to join the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator! What was the selection process like? What was the criteria for selection? What stood out in Minima’s submission that appealed to the EIC Accelerator?

The EIC Accelerator is a unique European funding instrument of the European Innovation Council. This was the first batch of companies selected from more than 800 applications for the EIC Accelerator. Prior to this, Minima participated in the SME Instrument, the predecessor programme to the EIC Accelerator. So they were familiar with us but the process still required an indepth video, application, pitch and intensive interview with a jury of investors and entrepreneurs. They are targeting companies looking to fund their
development and scale up their ground-breaking innovations in healthcare, digital technologies, energy, biotechnology, and space. They resonated with our value proposition to enable lower energy chips to save battery life and make that available to the broadest market possible through a semiconductor IP and EDA licensing model. We were the only semiconductor IP and EDA company selected this time.

You’re getting a full blended investment. What does that mean? How do you plan to use the investment?

The EIC Accelerator offers grants of up to ~€2.5 million combined with equity investments which is what they call a full blended investment. It supports the development of top-class innovations through crowding-in private investors for equity. Minima will be using the grant and potential equity in combination with private investors to scale up both the technology and the business. Remember in the last interview we discussed scaling our business not only by resource enabling us to support more customers, but by developing our IP delivery methods and Dynamic Margining EDA tools. This is precisely what the EIC Accelerator enables us to do. Tooling our solution enables our customers to explore and implement the technology more independently, enabling a step function in business growth, rather than scaling by mere resource growth.

Early in the year you spoke about the focus of Minima on the always on, sensing type applications such as hearables and wearables. How is that going?
Minima’s Dynamic Margining IP solution is a perfect fit for energy reduction in hearables and wearables, achieved by finding the minimum (stable) voltage at a given operating frequency. We have seen 60%+ energy savings for the chip designer’s processor of choice when combined with Minima’s Dynamic Margining. New energy savings benchmarks such as this one will drive the industry to adopt near threshold voltage solutions. We’re seeing the increase in the number of customer opportunities happen this year which is why we applied for the EIC Accelerator To meet the market demand, we need to scale both via our solution delivery technology and customer support resource. Hearables and wearables remain a very active area for us. We see also an increasing demand in Edge-AI / AIoT type devices, which are broadly expected to be the fastest growing product category among the typical always on SoCs.

How do you work with customers on an implementation of your solution? What do they need to be prepared to do and what does Minima provide? Will that model need to change to scale up the company?

Minima’s approach to what the industry has known as DVFS combined with AVS is totally new because we can scale to the optimal energy dynamically. It means that we are working with customers earlier than design implementation, we’re working with them at the architectural phase to help implement Dynamic Margining for their application case. At implementation time, we are process technology agnostic, compatible with the standard EDA flows and basically can enable the adaptive voltage scaling, enabled by our Dynamic Margining technology, down to threshold voltage level at any given process node.

What’s in store from Minima in the next 12 months as we look ahead to 2022?
Minima is continually improving our Dynamic Marging solution to make it as automated and tooled as possible for implementation, something we plan to do with the increased funding. The market opportunity in hearables, wearables plus IoT radios, MCUs, image recognition and edge AI is huge for us, it’s a multi-billion dollar revenue opportunity for us.

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