Q&A with Mark Dickinson, CEO, Intrinsic

Intrinsic, the memory innovators using Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM) technology, provide an insight about the company’s journey in our latest Q&A featuring CEO, Mark Dickinson.

How did Intrinsic’s journey begin, and where is it today? 

Intrinsic was born from many years of research by the academic founders in the area of ‘memristors’, a nanotechnology that exploits the ability to change the resistance state of certain materials through a carefully applied electric field.

The founders were focused on finding a way to apply this exciting technology to mainstream semiconductor devices (chips) providing them with a much sought-after memory capability that doesn’t exist today.

At the end of 2020, Intrinsic secured its first round of funding. This allowed the company to transfer the technology, which up to then had been fabricated using the research facilities of the London Centre for Nanotechnology, to a commercial fabrication process – proving it could be manufactured using the same processes and equipment as advanced chips. This development was done in collaboration with IMEC, a leading semiconductor research facility in Belgium. Following the very successful transfer of the technology to commercial facilities, we have now secured our second round of funding. We are entering a second phase of optimisation and validation of the technology, again in collaboration with IMEC. The funding also enables us to grow the Intrinsic team to develop and demonstrate the electronics surrounding this memory cell that will turn it into an easily accessible product available to all designers of semiconductor chips.

What brought you to working with UCLTF?

For me personally, it was actually UCLTF bringing me in to work with them. UCLTF had, together with UCLB, identified the technology that was being developed in the lab by Tony Kenyon and Adnan Mehonic as being valuable, and funded a project at the university to both develop the tech and conduct a search for a suitable CEO. They wanted to complement Tony and Adnan’s technical skillset with someone from industry with relevant domain experience. As the early proof-of-concept work looked to be delivering great results, they encouraged me to join as CEO with the promise of leading the funding of the plan that I developed. 

What would you describe as your strengths, and what are the areas that you are working on?

The main strength of the company is undoubtedly the nanotechnology it has developed and the deep understanding of the material science and process technologies that has allowed it to build this technology. Further strength comes from the company’s deep insight into the semiconductor industry and its very sharp focus on aligning the product development to the real opportunities that industry presents.

Mark Dickinson, CEO, Intrinsic

One of the important next steps for the company is to build the team which will develop the electronics to turn this technology into a RRAM memory product widely usable by the semiconductor industry as a whole. For example, using this RRAM will enable a new generation of IoT devices bringing high-performance, low-power AI to many applications where the power consumption and cost of AI are prohibitive today. Ultimately, we will also build the analogue electronics that allows this memristor technology to fill its anticipated role in the exciting new field of neuromorphic computing.

Is there anything that you would have changed or done differently along the journey?

Raising finance for a deep tech semiconductor/hardware startup is definitely not easy in the UK so, in retrospect, we did not properly anticipate how long it would take. So what would we do differently? Start earlier and not in the middle of a pandemic!

Visit Intrinsic’s website.

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