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Japan's Rohm kicks off $45m venture fund to drive new chip tech

US startup Locix among first beneficiaries in chipmaker's push for growth

Rohm is investing in promising startups with an eye on its earnings in the 2030s and beyond.   © Reuters

KYOTO -- Japanese chipmaker Rohm has launched a 5 billion yen ($45.3 million) venture capital fund to invest in next-generation semiconductor technology that can propel growth in the decades to come.

As a first step, Rohm's fund invested 300 million yen in U.S. startup Locix, which provides spatial intelligence solutions for warehouses and factories. Rohm believes its technology can help expand sales channels for semiconductors.

This is Rohm's first foray into venture capital. It plans to invest in startups in Japan and overseas that hold new chip-related technologies or provide chip-driven products and services, as well as those in new business fields like decarbonization.

Rohm will also invest in other venture capital funds to gain investment know-how. A new group under its chief technology officer founded in January will be tasked with screening and selecting investment targets. The venture capital fund is not expected to contribute to Rohm's overall earnings.

The fund also invested 200 million yen in a fund operated by Kyoto-based manufacturing startup Monozukuri Ventures.

Rohm has spent over a decade developing its silicon-carbide technology, which allows chips to operate on less energy than when using conventional silicon. It wants to new identify and promote technologies that can serve as its next driver for growth in the 2030s and beyond.

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