29 July 2021 KBC Focus Fund and MICLEDI Microdisplays– Producing High-End microLED Displays for AR Glasses MICLEDI Microdisplays is a tech start-up that specialises in microLED displays for AR glasses. Mission, Beliefs, and Foundation of MICLEDI MICLEDI Microdisplays (Leuven, Belgium) is a leading fabless semiconductor design and technology company developing high-performance microLED displays in a 300mm CMOS manufacturing platform. The new microLED technology has been developed in partnership with imec, and is now made solely available to the company. MICLEDI’s solution is uniquely positioned to address the demanding technical needs of future augmented reality (AR) glasses, such as display size, resolution, brightness, image quality, power consumption and cost. "We’re building an enabling component for the new era of consumer products. With MICLEDI’s displays, AR companies can build glasses for everyday consumers – compact and lightweight, with a long battery life, and augmented images that look just like reality. These AR glasses will be so good that we won’t need TVs, desk monitors, and smartphones,” proudly explains Sean Lord, CEO of MICLEDI Microdisplays. The company was founded in 2019 and is currently in the technology development phase. Challenges and Motivation to Solve Them The Holy Grail of Augmented Reality is to create stylish, trim, and lightweight smart glasses that allow the wearer to see highly realistic digital information projected onto the real world. This new product paradigm may eventually replace our smartphones. "Today’s AR ‘headsets’ suffer from several shortcomings, and a radical display innovation is required to overcome those” says Sean Lord. From the comfort perspective, they are rather heavy and bulky. The realism of AR images is not yet here – the brightness, resolution, and field of view need further improvement. These early devices are pricy, costing at least 3x your latest smartphone. Today’s AR headsets are primarily in the niche applications of industrial and medical markets. But this will change soon because nearly every major digital company is investing heavily in AR glasses to drive the future of their consumer offerings. Displays creating AR images are one of the mission-critical technologies to enable the high-volume, consumer AR. This is where MICLEDI’s innovation is going to make an unmatched contribution. To enable optimum microdisplays for AR, MICLEDI has developed a world’s first solution for microLED manufacturing integrating both controller ASIC and emitter module on 300mm wafers in a highly efficient, high volume, and low cost manufacturing flow. Customized solutions can be tailored to the particular requirements of each AR glass application in the ASIC controller making the Company’s approach applicable to a wide variety of specialized AR glass solution configurations. How Did Both Parties Meet? KBC Focus Fund reached out to MICLEDI for a company introduction. “We knew the fund, the members, and the reputation, and we were thrilled to start the conversation,” explains Sean Lord. KBC Focus Fund is a prominent player in the Belgian nanotechnology, microelectronics, and IoT ecosystem. The Leuven start-up has been in regular contact since the launch of the company on a variety of topics. The trust put in MICLEDI by the new financing round and the top-level guidance by its investors mean a lot to the company. These are the values MICLEDI looks for when choosing its financing partners. "KBC Focus Fund saw a very strong complementary team with a unique IP and technology for an interesting growth market," says Koen Schrever, CEO of KBC Focus Fund. By today, MICLEDI has already raised more than 10 million euros in funding. Making a Difference in the Future According to Yole’s Aug 2021 Optics and Display market report, the total demand for microdisplays for AR headsets is projected to grow to more than $1.8 billion by 2025 and more than $4.9 billion in 2027. Display solutions, which can overcome the technical limitations mentioned above, will command a large share of the overall AR module market. MICLEDI’S technology is acclaimed by technology leaders as having the potential to meet the best-in-class specifications opening the door to a commanding market share. In unit volume, MICLEDI projects demand in the market to start increasing rapidly – from 10M units in 2024 to more than 70M units by 2027. The Company also projects capturing > 25% of the overall market size, creating a pathway to $500 million in sales. Benefits from Tech Tour’s Events and Activities "Tech Tour runs one of the best online conferences since the time of COVID. The audience, the programme, and the networking opportunities are top-notch, despite all the challenges of ‘online’ interactions,” concludes Sean Lord.