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Ex-UST head Sajan Pillai launches Rs 100-crore chip design co

McLaren Strategic Ventures (MSV), a startup focused-investment firm founded by Sajan Pillai, has launched a semiconductor design vertical Atlas Silicon in the country with planned investment of around Rs 100 crore. It plans to start hiring 100 engineers by March.

The California-based McLaren Strategic Ventures is a business acceleration initiative launched in 2020 by Pillai, who was the founder-CEO of leading software firm UST. It has primarily four arms — business acceleration, business and domain consulting, internal IP and McLaren Capital.

Its publicly-traded arm McLaren Technology Acquisition Corporation is a USD 200 million India-focused SPAC (special purpose acquisition vehicle) which was listed on the Nasdaq last November after a USD 201 million IPO.

McLaren, through its investment arm Season Two Ventures, has pumped in over Rs 100 crore into eight startups including Warehouse Now, Aerchain, Ambee, 4BaseCare, Uvik and Twixor so far, and is also looking at a large acquisition.

On the chip design venture, Pillai, the founder-chairman and chief executive, told PTI on Tuesday that they are in discussions with various Southern states to finalise the location for Atlas Silicon. It will begin with hiring 100 artificial intelligence-focused software engineers by March.

He expects Atlas Silicon, which will be an AI-based chip design venture, to become a USD 300-million business by the turn of 2025. It seeks to revolutionise the global semiconductor industry, which has been facing a lot of challenges since the pandemic hit supply chains, leading to a crisis in a host of industries like automobiles and cellphones.

The global microchips industry is expected to be around USD 25 billion by 2025, clipping at over 8 per cent annually, Pillai said, adding he expects to tap consumer electronics, automotives, telecoms, medical instrumentation, aerospace subsystems and sensors and other applications like smart cards.

Pillai further said the recently announced national semiconductor policy and other favourable initiatives such as the production-linked incentive scheme will go a long way to deepen the local manufacturing base and create immense opportunities in the segment.

He said Atlas Silicon will be an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design maker and will develop the integrated circuit for a particular purpose or application. An ASIC will boost performance because the desired feature is specifically designed and is highly customised to deliver superior performance in specific applications.

On acquisitions, Pillai had told PTI in a recent interview that the market value that has been created in the fintech space in the last two-three years is close to USD 5 trillion. By far fintech is the largest category in the digital space to invest and it is looking for a fintech company which has an asset valuation of USD 500 million to USD 2 billion.

Pillai is a general partner at Season Two Ventures and chairman of SP Life Care, a company focused on senior care, medical tourism and lifecare.

Prior to launching McLaren Strategic Ventures, Sajan was the founder-CEO of UST, which he built into a global digital services firm employing over 25,000 now from just 20 employees, operating across the US, Britain, Spain, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Mexico, Australia, Poland and Israel with over USD 1 billion annual revenue. PTI

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