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Arm Flexible Access for Startups: Fast, Cost-efficient Route to Market for New Innovators

Arm champions success of early stage startups with zero-dollar access to the world’s most widely-deployed chip technology
By Phil Burr, Senior Director, Strategic Programmes, Arm
Arm Flexible Access for Startups

I’m not alone in viewing each and every early-stage startup as a beacon of opportunity. Some of the most innovative and world-changing ideas I’ve seen in recent years have come from those only just starting out on their journey.

However, the challenges early-stage startups face are no secret: they need to build investor confidence to secure funding, they need to innovate quickly and they need to do so while minimizing costs along the way.

For Arm it’s incredibly important that we help fledgling companies with the potential to do something great to get off the ground. So today, we’re launching a new zero-dollar program, Arm Flexible Access for Startups, to give early stage startups access to a broad range of our world-leading technologies, spanning processor designs, tools and support.

These are the same technologies found in everyday use in devices being sold globally across all IoT, automotive and mobile markets. The only price of admission is an application and an absolute desire to succeed.

We expect many of the startups we’ll help through Arm Flexible Access for Startups to be riding technology mega-trends such as smart cities, AI at the edge and endpoint, autonomous vehicles and medical wearables. Semiconductor startups already received more than $1.3Bn in funding over the past five years, with more than half achieving more than one round of funding. Analysis by Semico Research Corp. on semiconductor startups noted that funding jumped 190% between 2016 and 2017 and investment dollars have been increasing steadily ever since. For those with bright ideas, there’s a bright future ahead.

Arm Flexible Access for Startups

In July 2019 we made a bold move in launching Arm Flexible Access, an entirely new way of accessing our industry-leading chip technologies. The program has proved popular with a range of companies of all sizes and commercial aims, enabling them to experiment and design with industry-leading Arm IP without paying license fees until they reach production. We wanted to explore further how we could get these benefits in the hands of more early-stage startups with only small teams and limited funding. We created Arm Flexible Access for Startups to do just that.

By giving early-stage private companies zero-dollar access to a broad range of IP, we’re putting them on the fastest, lowest cost, and lowest risk journey to building a working prototype, securing their next round of funding and instilling confidence in potential investors. Arm Flexible Access for Startups also offers technical support and training to rapidly upskill startup teams, alongside a choice of experienced Arm approved design partners to bring extra capacity and capability along their journey.

Further, we’re partnering with Silicon Catalyst, an incubator dedicated to accelerating silicon innovation. Silicon Catalyst’s drive to make startups a more viable and attractive investment for VCs and Angels shares Arm’s goal of helping silicon startups to quickly make progress with the minimum of risk through Arm Flexible Access for Startups. Silicon Catalyst’s business mentoring, free access to EDA tools and multi-project wafer shuttles complements the free access to IP, tools and support offered in our Flexible Access for Startups program. Each startup faces unique challenges, and this partnership will help to define unique and tailored solutions to help each startup to succeed.

A trusted route to prototype silicon

When it comes to the foundational technology and IP on which to base these products, startups need as much choice and flexibility as possible to allow them to experiment with solutions, and even pivot to different ones, as their understanding of customer needs and competition evolves.

For this to happen, they need to be able to trust that the ecosystem they’re building upon is proven to be robust, secure and to instill confidence in potential investors. Arm’s stable, documented, and verified architecture provides that trust, reduces risk and delivers predictable outcomes for startups and investors.

With 160-billion Arm-based chips shipped by over 500 licensees, the whole ecosystem has evolved to make the flow from concept to foundry quick and efficient. Leveraging this ecosystem will save startups’ development energies for the aspects of their product that are novel, unique, and differentiating.

Large semiconductor companies have hundreds if not thousands of engineers at their disposal.  Startups usually have comparably tiny teams. The good news is that there are thousands of hardware and software engineers trained and experienced in developing for the Arm and that a startup can bring in to boost their team. These could be individuals to do backend design, or a company that offers verification. The fact that Arm development is such familiar territory to so many developers enables any startup developing on Arm to ‘ramp up’ very quickly.

Will you be the next silicon success story?

Arm Flexible Access has already exceeded expectations in engagement with innovative customers. With Arm Flexible Access for Startups, Arm is further honing its recipe to match the most pressing challenges for early stage start-ups. Hundreds of highly successful startups have leveraged the Arm advantage, either growing into or being acquired by large semiconductor companies. Could you be next?

If you’re an early-stage startup with a great idea, now has never been a better time to realize your device dreams with Arm Flexible Access for Startups. Learn more and apply now to join this unique program.

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