Sand 9 Gets $8M for Nano MEMs

Sand 9, a Boston University spinoff, has received $8 million in a Series A round from Flybridge Capital Partners and General Catalyst Partners. An early-stage investment in a fabless chip company is notable, simply because there are fewer of them than ever. While the firm isn’t making a true semiconductor, it is using the chip manufacturing process to make its nano-mechanical resonator, a component that can both filter and stabilize multiple frequencies on one piece of tiny machinery.

The Sand 9 resonator can replace several components used in making a wireless devices from a cell phone to a headset. Rather than requiring a separate device for each radio found in a communications device, each Sand 9 component can work with multiple frequencies and radios. That means fewer parts and a smaller potential form factor. It sounds like a smart bet, but the real test will be if it works.

Matt Crowley, VP of business development with Sand 9, was cagey about when the firm would have devices to sample, but did say the company should be able to get to product on the $8 million round and the $2 million seed round it raised when it formed in 2007. He added that the Series A round should last through the next two years, and will primarily be used to add engineering staff and get the product out the door.

That’s serious capital efficiency for a fabless company. Crowley said the key is using older semiconductor fabrication tools and plants to build the resonator. So while it’s hard to find a Series A for a processor startup these days, entrepreneurs turning to MEMs or older process technologies are still raking in investment dollars.