Transphorm, An Energy Groundbreaker Backed By Google Ventures, Gets $35M From Japan Powerhouses

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Transphorm, a company that has developed a power conversion technology to drive energy efficiency, emerging from stealth early last year, has today announced a Series E raise of $35 million led by a particularly strategic pair of investors. The round is led by the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) — a government/manufacturing partnership with a procurement budget of up to $25 billion annually — and Nihon Inter Electronics Company (NIEC), which will help Transphorm manufacture its power devices. Existing venture investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, Google Ventures, Quantum Strategic Partners, Lux Capital and Bright Capital also participating.

Today’s funding announcement in particular points to big manufacturing companies’ interest in Transphorm’s technology and a strategic turn towards Japan. The INJC is a public-private partnership between the Japanese government and 27 major corporations, including Sharp, Sumitomo Electric, Toshiba and General Electric Company, Japan. INCJ has the capacity to invest up to ¥2 trillion (approximately US$25 billion).

The total raised by Transphorm to date is now $104 million.

The company says that in addition to its financial investment, Nihon Inter Electronics is now in a business alliance with Transphorm to mass-produce Transphorm’s next-generation GaN (Gallium nitride) power devices. “The alliance will help bring the long-awaited practical realization, commercialization and mass production of state-of-the-art GaN power conversion solutions,” the company says.

In a world where people, businesses and governments are all trying to consume less energy, GaN power solutions are seen as one route to achieving that, with the devices usable both in consumer and manufacturing devices. What’s notable here is that Transphorm is the first company to commercialize high-voltage GaN for manufacturers and other enterprises.

“The investment from INCJ substantiates GaN as the next generation energy efficiency technology,” said Umesh Mishra, CEO of Transphorm, in a statement. “The need for energy efficiency remains paramount even as the sources of energy change. Today’s strategic financing, coupled with the earlier investments, enables scaling of this disruptive technology and helps eliminate energy waste in multiple markets from servers to solar panels, from HVACs to hybrids.”