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UltraSoC: From Shenzhen to Tokyo to Acquisition

UltraSoC: From Shenzhen to Tokyo to Acquisition
Technology:On-chip debug and analytics IP
Targets:Semiconductor manufacturers & design houses
Result:Licensing deal with China's largest semiconductor firm, HiSilicon


When we first started in June 2015, UltraSoC - like many start-ups – had a great, unique technology but it needed that first handful of customers to gain further investment, grow and recruit.

With more than 700 fabless companies in China at the time, and over 1,700 today, it was naturally a key target market for semiconductor companies around the world. And UltraSoC was no exception.

Of course, start-ups generally have limited resources, so our strategy was to focus on the larger fabless companies in China, as well as any undertaking large, complex designs which were suitable for UltraSoC’s IP. This meant our first port of call included HiSilicon, Spreadtrum, and ZTE.

Our first face-to-face meeting with the HiSilicon team was on a hot, humid July day in the coastal tech hub of Shenzhen. We accompanied Rupert Baines, UltraSoC’s CEO, to a meeting we’d arranged with influential engineers and department heads.

The meeting went well. HiSilicon were interested. But this was just the initial step on the long road to that first big deal in China, which in turn would be crucial to UltraSoC’s prospects of securing more.

After meeting every month for a year, as well as completing a detailed evaluation process, UltraSoC’s first HiSilicon deal – its first contract in China –was signed– 17 months after that initial meeting.

HiSilicon is one of those rare Chinese companies that doesn’t want to be a follower. It wants to lead the market and will risk a new technology if it thinks it’s worth it. That’s one of the reasons it has become the most successful fabless company in China.

It also means that HiSilicon is often the key to unlocking further customers in China. This certainly proved the case with UltraSoC, as we helped sign further customers over the subsequent years on the back of the HiSilicon deal.

But this deal wasn’t just about cash in the bank from HiSilicon and extra traction in the China market. It also played a big role in helping UltraSoC gain its next round of funding.


With success under its belt in China, UltraSoC decided to appoint us in Japan as well.

We took a similar approach here, engaging the top 10 fabless companies, selecting a local tech partner and signing UltraSoC’s first customer in Japan – Denso’s NSITEXE.

This helped boost UltraSoC’s profile and credibility in Japan, which led to a new PoC with Hitachi, and commercial discussions with a range of new customers that included Sony, Renesas, Megachips, and Socionext.


The big news UltraSoC has more recently celebrated is its acquisition by Siemens. And there’s no doubt that the work we did together in China and Japan was a major factor in making UltraSoC an attractive acquisition target.

We’re delighted to have been part of UltraSoC’s journey from that first HiSilicon meeting in Shenzhen, to its acquisition by Siemens. It’s exciting times ahead for the company. We expect Siemens will help its technology reach even more customers globally.

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