Erik Josberger, senior lidar engineer at Lumotive, holds a wafer of the company’s Light Control Metasurface beam-steering chips. Lumotive is one of the initial holdings of MetaVC Partners, a venture capital fund that has raised US$62 million for investment in metamaterials-based startups. [Image: Lumotive]
MetaVC Partners, a venture capital organization focused on firms involved with metamaterials development, announced on 12 April that it had raised US$62 million to launch MetaVC Partners LLC, a fund that will invest in “early-stage, hard-tech metamaterials startup companies.”
The new fund taps financing from a number of partners, including Corning Inc., the Gates Frontier fund of Bill Gates, the diversified materials company JSR Corp., and a number of other “family wealth offices and institutional pension funds,” according to MetaVC Partners.
Four holdings—thus far
The original MetaVC Partners was founded in 2021 to invest in startups using metamaterials “for applications in renewable energy, high-performance computing, imaging, and next generation wireless communications and sensors.” At present, the fund has four holdings. Perhaps the most established of these is Lumotive, which is developing liquid-crystal metasurface beam steerers for lidar, Industry 4.0 and other applications. Founded in 2017, again with Bill Gates as one of its investors, Lumotive to date has amassed more than US$56 million in early-stage funding, including US$13 million this past January in a strategic-funding round led by Samsung Ventures.
MetaVC Partners has also invested in Mangata Networks, which is building a satellite-terrestrial data communication network; Imagia, focused on flat optics for AR/VR applications; and Neurophos, which seeks to develop high-speed optical processors for AI.
New funding for Imagia
One of these firms also announced follow-on financing in the wake of the recent fundraising round by MetaVC Partners. At the end of April, Imagia—which was founded by Greg Kress, a Stanford-educated “serial entrepreneur” whose previous ventures include the Y Combinator–accelerated “hardware-enabled office coffee service” Pearl Coffee—revealed that it had closed on a US$4.5 million seed-funding round “led by Gates Frontier and joined by MetaVC Partners and other strategic investors.”
The company expects to use the seed money to “accelerate development and initial commercial deployment of the company’s first generation of flat, silicon-based optical lenses.” These metalenses, according to Imagia, have the potential to replace bulk optics in AR/VR headsets and other devices, opening up the AR/VR design space. The firm also says its metalenses “can be built directly on top of CMOS devices like LEDs and image sensors in the same fabrication flow, which eliminates several critical steps of opto-mechanical alignment.”