Using AI to streamline circuit board engineering, Munich-based deeptech startup CELUS has just secured €25 million – supercharging its mission to tap into a trillion-dollar market.
Within every electronic product – whether it be a toothbrush, coffee machine or a computer – there is a circuit board that can contain anywhere between hundreds and thousands of tiny hardware components. Each of these pieces has its own specifications, price and availability. Currently, these circuit boards are designed manually, reliant upon the expert knowledge of highly-skilled engineers. But CELUS is on a mission to change this – using AI to streamline and automate the process.
The German deeptech startup, founded in 2018, has just secured €25 million Series A funding in a round led by Earlybird Venture Capital, with participation from DI Capital and existing investors Speedinvest and Plug and Play.
Additionally participating in the oversubscribed round, and who will now join the expert advisory board, are Sir John Rose (former CEO of Rolls Royce); Sir Peter Bonfield (Chairman of TSMC and NXP); Carl-Peter Forster (CEO of Opel, GM Europe, and Tata Motors); Paul Gojenola (Electronic Engineering Lead at Google); Martina Koederitz (former CEO of IBM Germany and Global Industry Business); and Koenraad Crooijmans (former Investment Banker at Morgan Stanley).
Founded by Tobias Pohl (CEO), Alexander Pohl (CTO) and André Alcalde (CPO), CELUS’s vision is to open new levels of efficiency and quality assurance to electronic engineering professionals, distributors, and component manufacturers alike. Circuit board design traditionally has relied on manual design – making the process of getting to the final design and component selection complex and time-consuming.
CELUS CEO, Tobias, explained: “Engineers spend far too much time relying on their memories, or manually searching parts that might serve a certain function. CELUS changes the game, providing engineers with the digital tools to dramatically speed up this process and automate much of the hard work.”
CELUS has developed a cloud-based engineering platform that supports electronics engineers with rich component data from electronic manufacturers and adds automation to accelerate the design process. It’s reported that this leads to a design-time reduction of up to 90%.
With the industry facing severe chip shortages, new components are being introduced and old components are becoming obsolete. CELUS makes the design of electronics accessible to many more engineers, facilitating direct information flows between electronic component manufacturers and their customers. Given that every electronic product we use relies on such component design and selection, the startup is tapping into a massive market and has great potential to thrive.
Andre Retterath, Partner at Earlybird, who is joining the CELUS board, said: “The electronic supply shortages triggered by Covid have, more than ever before, revealed the faultiness of one of the largest and most important global industries. Having observed this market for several years, we strongly believe that CELUS, with its engineer-first approach, is best positioned to lead the horizontal integration of the broken and fragmented electronics supply chain – enabled by design automation.”
Sir John Rose commented: “CELUS’ entry into the electronics engineering market is extraordinarily well-timed and important for the industry. Acquiring components for circuit board design and creation became increasingly difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic, but CELUS’ technology sweeps away many of these obstacles from an engineer’s design path. I am delighted to be joining the company’s advisory board and can’t wait to help CELUS achieve its vast, global potential.”
More than 1,800 engineers are already using the CELUS tool – a 3,000% increase compared with December 2021. This investment will be used to further scale this rapid growth, with a strong focus on the US market. It’ll also go towards strengthening the commercial team and enlarging the tech leadership.
Speaking on these future plans, Tobias added: “This fresh round of funding, and the support from top-tier investors and our prestigious active advisory board, allows us to grow our user base globally and open a CELUS office in the US – positioning us in the heart of the electronics industry. We want to reach every electronics designer out there, enabling them to focus more time on innovation and creativity, while our software reduces the tedious and time-consuming tasks they were dealing with before.”