Crystal Sonic Wins $250k Investment at the 2024 Lam Capital Venture Competition
Jun 7, 2024
  • The event is the only startup competition with a monetary award for semiconductor startups 
  • Lam Capital invests in companies that address high-impact industry challenges 

CEO Tim Archer and Audrey Charles, SVP Corporate Strategy, with Arno Merkle, CEO of Crystal Sonic
Lam's CEO Tim Archer and Audrey Charles, SVP Corporate Strategy, with Arno Merkle, CEO of Crystal Sonic

Driving the news: Lam Capital hosted its third venture competition, themed “Enabling Future Semiconductors,” this week at Lam Research’s Fremont headquarters. The one-of-a-kind event brought together a community of seasoned investors and startups from around the world to support and celebrate semiconductor innovations.  

Crystal Sonic, a Phoenix-based startup, emerged as the victor, securing a $250,000 investment from Lam Capital. Their winning pitch showcased an innovative acoustic technology that helps semiconductor manufacturers reduce waste and cost by enabling thin device lift-off and substrate reuse, a breakthrough in the industry. 

“The Lam Capital Venture Competition was a truly unique and rewarding experience for us as a semiconductor hardware startup,” says Arno Merkle, CEO of Crystal Sonic. “We were deeply impressed by the spirit of engagements and the caliber of all participants, including fellow startups, panelists, judges, investors, and Lam Research attendees, all with a laser focus on semiconductors. The exposure it afforded us is priceless, and we are confident this will give us the necessary boost to make our vision at Crystal Sonic a reality.” 

  • The runner-up was Lidrotec, a German startup that makes low-damage laser wafer dicing equipment for cutting semiconductor chips.
  • All told, nine startup finalists from a pool of 67 applicants showcased their novel semiconductor and manufacturing technologies. 
  • Catch up quick: The Lam Capital Venture Competition is the only pitch competition with a monetary reward that focuses on the semiconductor industry

Why it matters: Lam Capital, a champion of innovation, invests in companies that tackle some of the semiconductor industry’s most challenging, high-impact problems. The competition is a unique platform to unearth companies that are revolutionizing the semiconductor ecosystem through next-generation industrial automation, technology, and product innovation.   

Thought Leadership 

The event also featured two panel discussions with some of the industry’s top investors and leaders.  

  • The investor panel “Future Focus: Venture Investing in Semiconductor” offered illuminating perspectives on investment interests, emerging trends, and the pivotal role corporate venture capital plays in the semiconductor startup ecosystem, which helps inform Lam’s strategic investment approach to fostering innovation.  
  • The industry panel “Opportunities in High Performance Compute & AI” highlighted the vast opportunities for high-performance computing/AI from hardware and software perspective, as discussed by startup founders and a cloud service provider, shedding light on Lam’s potential for delivering innovative products and services that solve real problems in the AI era.  

What they’re saying:  

  • “It was heartening to see so many of the participants take on the challenges of the age of AI,” says Audrey Charles, SVP, Corporate Strategy. “Minimizing costs, managing increasing complexity, and addressing sustainability concerns are some of the biggest challenges the industry faces in driving semiconductor breakthroughs.”  
  • “Our platform offers a valuable opportunity to showcase innovative technologies in the semiconductor space by bringing together Lam and startups to enhance their competitive edge,” says Kevin Chen, managing director, Lam Capital. “We are excited this event drew investors who have deep knowledge of the semi world and are ready to invest in early-stage semi companies to push our industry forward.” 
  • “We heard from some of the startups that this was the largest concentration of semiconductor investors they’ve seen in one place,” says Ben Haskell, investment director, Lam Capital. “They were thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase their innovations to the semiconductor community.”  

With a track record of over 20 investments to date, Lam Capital is committed to driving the industry forward, with each selected startup receiving between $1 million to $10 million. Learn more at