IDTechEx provides independent market research and business intelligence on emerging technology to clients in over 80 countries. The company’s analysts, mostly PhD-educated subject matter experts, conduct primary research through interviews and site visits and deliver insights across a broad spectrum of emerging technologies, including energy storage, electric vehicles and wearables.
A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Alex Holland, an IDTechEx technology analyst focused on energy storage technology, conducted a webinar titled, “Li-ion Batteries: Where is the Technology Going?” The webinar shared information from the IDTechEx report, “Li-ion Batteries 2020–2030,” including anode development—specifically silicon anodes.
A chart that caught my eye is the one below illustrating funding for silicon start-ups. From 2010 to 2019, cumulative funding increased from under $50 million to about $700 million—an average annual grow rate over 30%. After the webinar, I sent Dr. Holland a message with a couple of questions. His reply included that the total funding had risen since the end of 2019 to about $900 million. He also stated that the funding information was collected from public announcements, and that although he was aware of additional funding, he didn’t know the exact amount. Therefore, the total amount of funding for silicon anode start-ups is likely higher than $900 million.
The funding graph for Enovix is similar to that for total funding. Between our founding in 2007 and 2011, we raised about $30 million from venture capitalists for proof of concept research. In 2012, when we confirmed that our 3D cell architecture would significantly increase energy density, we secured strategic funding of about $75 million from Intel, Qualcomm and Cypress Semiconductor to develop our patented technology. Between 2017 and 2018, we secured another $57 million in private funding for pilot-production of our 3D Silicon™ Lithium-ion Battery. Most recently, we secured $45 million, with over half from a new strategic investor, to complete our fully automated commercial production line by year-end.
The ability to secure sufficient funding is fundamental to achieving commercialization of an advanced battery. A 2016 article in MIT Technology Review, “Why We Still Don’t Have Better Batteries,” cites a study that advanced battery startups “averaged just $40 million in funding over eight years.” It lists several companies that failed “as their cash needs climbed” before they could find customers and reach market.
Adequate funding is an essential component of progressing from innovative startup to successful commercial enterprise. We have secured customers and reached the threshold of commercialization in large part because we have raised funds, demonstrated progress, raised more funds and demonstrated more progress again and again. The silicon anode is widely recognized as the next major lithium-ion battery advancement capable of achieving a step-change improvement in energy density. We are pleased that we’ve been able to combine innovative technology, continuous product and production development with the funding needed to reach market, make a difference and build sustainable enterprise value.