17 Oct 2023
Developer of micro-LED technology boosts series A venture round following pivot away from 'smart' contact lenses.
Mojo Vision, the California startup working on high-performance micro-LEDs based on quantum-dot technology, says it has now raised $43.5 million in series A venture funding.
The figure is roughly double the $22.4 million that the Saratoga firm said it had raised back in April, since when it has brought a new investor on board in the form of Vanedge Capital Partners.
Mojo’s original business had been focused on so-called “smart” contact lenses, a form of augmented reality (AR) display, before a change of plan earlier this year after it had failed to attract significant capital.
Its latest funding was led by existing backers NEA and Khosla Ventures, with additional support from Shanda Grab Ventures, Dolby Family Ventures, Advantech Capital, Liberty Global Ventures, Drew Perkins, Fusion Fund, Open Field Capital and Knollwood Investment Fund.
Mojo CEO Nikhil Balram said in a company release: “The funding round drew remarkable interest from investors and exceeded our expectations, with our final figure almost doubling the amount of our initial raise in this round.
“Our next-generation display technology is state-of-the-art in brightness, efficiency and form factor, positioned to disrupt a global industry.”
In June, Mojo claimed to have produced the world’s highest density red micro-LED display, featuring 14,000 pixels per inch.
It is based around the firm’s gallium nitride (GaN) quantum dots, whose emission in the blue spectrum can be converted to green and red colors with a pixel pitch of just over one micron.
Mojo is also working with waveguide optics developer DigiLens to integrate its micro-LEDs with surface relief gratings to “raise the bar on display performance, and efficiency in the AR/XR industry”, as Balram puts it - and to move AR glasses closer to volume production for consumer applications.
The Mojo team quotes recent research by market analysts at Omdia suggesting that the market for micro-LEDs will grow from an almost negligible total today to just over 50 million units per year by 2030.
Omdia reported that, so far, only a handful of companies are capable of mass production, implying that there were still many hurdles to overcome before micro-LEDs emerge from a few high-end niche applications.
For example in July Samsung released an 89-inch, 4.5k micro-LED TV costing around $100,000 - more than twice the price of a similar-sized premium QLED TV from the same firm.
Manufacturing such a large display means that more than 33 million micro-LED chips must be produced on a glass substrate, explained Omdia, pointing out the difficulty of making such a display without any defects.
It means that over the next few years much smaller applications in extended reality (XR) and smart watches are likely to drive micro-LED uptake. Omdia suggests that micro-LED displays will have more than a 50 per cent share of the XR sector by 2030.
Commenting on the latest funding, new Mojo Vision board member Moe Kermani from Vanedge Capital said: “Micro-LED displays are vital for high-performance, energy-efficient screens required in the next generation of AR/VR headsets, smart wearables, and even automotive applications.
“Mojo Vision’s pioneering advancements in core micro-LED technology, display design, and manufacturing places them in a strong position to dominate the market.”