In December 2014 Infineon Technologies held the Infineon Venture Forum in Munich. The company, a world leader in semiconductor solutions, was looking for tech ventures in all parts of the value chain with innovative semiconductor-based solutions that help meet challenges in three focus areas: Energy Efficiency, Mobility and Security. Therefore, Infineon collaborated with Munich Network, supporting Infineon by managing the startup scouting and organizing the event. “The Venture Forum format is an effective way of seeing a larger number of startups and their respective ideas/technologies in a short period of time. In this case it was of course the starting point for an intensive engagement”, says Infineon.
For two days 12 innovative young companies pitched their solutions to Infineon. In total there were 102 startups from 24 countries worldwide applying for presenting to and engaging with Infineon. One of these young companies was Merus Audio, developing fully integrated audio amplifier ICs for the home audio segment at this time. From their point of view the technology developed at Merus Audio aligned very well with Infineon’s focus on energy efficient power solutions. And this is how it was: “Merus Audio perfectly complements Infineon’s existing class D Audio IC portfolio. While Infineon has been focusing on components for professional audio equipment, Merus Audio has developed a promising technology for high performance audio amplifiers <70W – e.g. tapping into the market for smart home assistants.” First, Infineon and Merus Audio discussed a potential cooperation project. Later, when Infineon was in need of IPs that could have been provided by Merus Audio, further engagements started. However, instead of a licensing model the discussion evolved into a strategic discussion on how to expand Infineon’s Class-D Audio Amplifier IC portfolio. Talks soon turned towards a potential investment and then, in February 2018, to acquisition. The biggest driver behind this acquisition is the conviction shared by both Infineon and Merus Audio that both need one another in order to successfully address the low-power Class-D Audio segment: “Merus has the technology and the know-how, Infineon has the access to large volume customers and a more competitive cost position”, explains Infineon. The acquisition was also accompanied by typical stumbling blocks such as alignment of the transaction structure or the purchase price negotiation: “But this is what you typically expect to be in such deal situations. Neither Merus Audio nor Infineon ever truly gave up on the desire of wanting to work together”, says Infineon.
For Hans Hasselby-Andersen, former CEO of Merus Audio, the Infineon Venture Forum is where the first seeds were sown. The Venture Forum organized by Munich Network served as an efficient platform to present his company and technology to a large group of Infineon decision makers. Personal relations were established which were important for the following discussions. His learnings and recommendations for other startups: “Any negotiation should take place from a position of strength. The imbalance between a startup and a large corporation is huge, so for the startup it is important to always have alternatives at hand.” And from a corporate point of view? “It begins with having the right mindset going into such an engagement: be open about new ideas and new people, expect the unexpected, embrace the challenge and accept the risk.”
If you would like to know more about Munich Network’s Scouting & Sourcing offerings, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Sabrina Micklich: +49 89 630253-0.