Irish VC leads $28m DAB funding round

ACT Venture Capital, Apax Partners, Alta Berkeley, BlueRun Ventures and Quilvest have teamed up to provide further funding to UK semiconductor manufacturer Frontier Silicon.

Dublin-based ACT Venture Capital has led a $28 million (€21 million) venture funding round in Frontier Silicon, a UK-based manufacturer of semiconductors for mobile digital television and DAB digital radio products.

ACT is a new investor in the company and put up half the total investment according to a report in The Irish Times. ACT was joined by another new investor, Luxembourg-based Quilvest and existing investors Apax Partners, London-based AltaBerkeley Venture Partners and BlueRun Ventures (formerly known as Nokia Venture Partners).

Frontier Silicon was established in 2001 and has been a key player in the DAB digital radio market. The company said that the new funding would enable it establish its position in the mobile digital television market and further develop its DAB digital radio products.

Kieron Branagan, general partner at ACT, said in a statement: “The management team at Frontier Silicon is uniquely positioned to leverage the significant opportunities afforded by DAB and emerging mobile digital television standards such as T-DMB and DVB-H.”

This month Frontier Silicon launched two new chips to allow the reception of terrestrial digital multimedia broadcasting services on mobile phone handsets – the Apollo chip to receive broadcast signals and the Kino chip to provide digital baseband processing.

Set up in 1994, ACT has funds under management of €350 million, including its most recent fund, which received €171 million worth of commitments in 2002 – the largest venture capital fundraising in Europe that year.

Co-investor Apax Partners continues to invest in early stage venture despite the news last week that the firm will merge with US mid-market buyout firm Saunder Karps & Megrue to expand its global buyout operation.

Yesterday the firm acquired global foreign exchange group Travelex for just over £1 billion from 3i and owner Lloyd Dorfman.