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How Arm is Helping the World’s Silicon Startups Succeed

More IP, a new contest and some startup success stories from Arm Flexible Access.
By Arm Editorial Team

Four years ago, we launched Arm Flexible Access as a new way for our partners to access Arm’s industry-leading chip designs quicker, easier and, well, more flexibly. 

A significant audience we are engaging is the global silicon startup community through Arm Flexible Access for Startups. This provides access to a broad portfolio of Arm’s extensively verified IP, tools and training on the easiest and simplest ever business terms from Arm, with clear, predictable pricing upfront and a zero cost license fee for startups to develop their silicon prototypes.

This commitment to early-stage silicon startups is important to Arm. The continued growth of the semiconductor industry will be heavily influenced by the entrepreneurial drive and innovation of early-stage startups who are providing the next wave of innovative products and technology solutions that, like Arm’s, will change the world.

The startup “game changer”

Our approach to support startups is working. Since its introduction, Arm Flexible Access for Startups has managed to help around 100 startups and the results have been impressive.

Sohail Syed, CEO and President of DreamBig Semiconductor Inc., refers to Arm Flexible Access for Startups as “a game-changer” for the company. It allowed the silicon startup to prototype its Deimos Chiplet Hub for next-generation datacenter solutions quickly and cost effectively, while helping to mitigate any wider technical and business challenges.

Cambridge Touch Technologies, a startup developing an AI engine that runs signal processing for touch technology, is another success story. The ‘design first, pay later’ model of Arm Flexible Access for Startups was vital when the company signed up in 2020, as it was still in the very early stages of the funding process. The CEO and Co-founder Corbin Church says: “Within two years of signing up, we already have a second product in the pipeline and are planning to tape out our first commercial chip later this year.”

We understand startups

From our 30 years of experience, we understand that designing silicon is complex, expensive, and risky. Since the program launched in 2019, we’ve had many different discussions with early-stage startups, understanding what they need and want to design silicon effectively and efficiently. What we heard is that there are three key considerations that are front of mind for them:

  • Experimenting with ease and having the ability to pivot their design as much as they need before production;
  • Moving quickly and confidently with minimal disruptions; and
  • Effectively controlling their cash flow to give their investors confidence.

Access to more Arm IP

These considerations are what guide Arm’s offering through Flexible Access for Startups. We are now adding Arm Cortex-A55 CPU, one of Arm’s most popular IP designs for consumer tech markets, to the broad portfolio of Arm IP and tools that we offer through Arm Flexible Access for Startups. This means silicon startups can access Cortex-A55 free of charge as part of their initial prototype development process.

Hailo, a startup that has gone from strength-to-strength since joining Arm Flexible Access, commented on the importance of Arm’s proven IP technology as the company started its first silicon prototype. Hailo’s co-founder and chief technologist Avi Baum says: “Our technology needs to work first time and the technology contributed by the ecosystem has to be just as trustworthy.”

The proven range of IP and tools allows startups to move with confidence and manage any risks during the silicon prototype process, with this being important to Eray Erdogan, Co-Founder of HEX Microchip. He says: “Arm’s proven IP, tools and support have helped us manage risk and start on a solid foundation, which has been a bastion of confidence leading us to success.”

Comprehensive ecosystem and technical support

And it’s not just Arm’s IP and tools that we offer. Through the program, Arm’s own technical network and our vast ecosystem become a free extension for small startup teams. With access to thousands of technology companies spanning hardware and software and millions of developers all building on Arm, there is a wealth of knowledge and insights to support the development of silicon prototypes.

We also offer a comprehensive package of support and training from Arm’s skilled engineers. This helps startups quickly address any technical or commercial challenges faced during the design process, speeding their time-to-market and saving costs in the long-run.

The Arm ecosystem is a key benefit valued by our startup customers. Yannick Thepaut, CEO, EASii IC, says; “We can rely on the Arm ecosystem to secure projects and give the necessary level of confidence to reduce development costs and accelerate the time-to-market.”

Meanwhile, Manu Nair, Founder and CEO of Synthara AG, notes the quick and responsive feedback from Arm’s Account team to the company’s requests and how it benefited the development of its prototype. He says: “The clear and actionable support enabled us to close our design quickly and efficiently.

Sparking fresh innovation with a new startup contest

We are making continuous efforts to provide the benefits of the program to more silicon startups globally. Silicon Catalyst, the world’s only startup incubator focused exclusively on accelerating semiconductor solutions, is running a “Silicon Startups Contest” in partnership with Arm for early-stage startups who are designing their next system-on-chip (SoC) with Arm processor IP.

This is a great opportunity for startups to access Arm’s leading IP and save costs during the design development process, with the most innovative system-on-chip (SoC) design winning $150,000 of Arm Technology credit towards an Arm Flexible Access tape-out. This could cover IP fees for a small embedded system, or significantly contribute to the cost of higher performance applications. The contest winner, alongside two runners-up, will also receive a free Arm design check-in, a ticket to Arm’s invite-only ecosystem event, and an investor pitch review and preparation support by Silicon Catalyst, with an opportunity to present to the Silicon Catalyst Angels group and its investment syndication network.  

Business guidance to help startups thrive

Silicon Catalyst is one of the expert organizations that Arm Flexible Access startups can lean on for wider business support. Arm’s partnership with Silicon Catalyst brings wide-ranging guidance to startups on how to reduce costs and complexity during the design development process. Another organization offering expert guidance is Sand Hill Angels, a group of 160 Silicon Valley angel investors and advisors offering business knowledge on how to scale startups effectively.

Like Arm, Silicon Catalyst and Sand Hill Angels are passionate about helping startups succeed and scale. They are part of a global Arm network of startup-specific support, including incubators, funders, advisors, research institutes and government agencies.

Create life-changing products on Arm

Through Arm Flexible Access for Startups, we are giving silicon startups the tools and support to create the very best products as efficiently and effectively as possible. Whether that’s through zero cost access to our industry-proven technology, access to millions of global innovators in Arm’s vast ecosystem or access to world-class technical support, we are committed to enabling the startup community to move fast, experiment with ease and design with confidence.

If you’re an early-stage silicon start-up, then take a look at what Arm Flexible Access for Startups can offer you on your first step towards changing the world with your products that are built on Arm.

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Editorial Contact

Brian Fuller & Jack Melling
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