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Archive for February 22nd, 2010

Fostering Innovation

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The news dominating the EDA communications channels of late is Synopsys’ recent acquisition spree of several small, well-regarded emerging companies with innovative technology.  I’m not ready to debate whether these moves signal the demise of the virtual platform market segment.  Instead, my guest blog is on fostering innovation.

Synopsys corporate strategy confirms my theory and one held by others as well:  Small companies are much better able to manage and promote innovation than the larger, more established players.

Most often, it’s a startup or emerging company that develops groundbreaking new technology and that’s due to any number of reasons.  Startups and small companies can offer an entrepreneurial environment conducive for innovative and creative thinking, and frequently encourage their employees to experiment.  These firms have a luxury not afforded by the large, more established companies –– they are not restricted by a hierarchy and a structure that can stifle creativity. 

Small and emerging companies are better able to focus an R&D team on a technical challenge, enabling them to take a fresh, even radical, approach.  They can be more aggressive in identifying and responding to market trends and industry needs, especially if the market capitalization is not large enough for an established player to justify an investment.

Two great examples of the entrepreneurial spirit of emerging verification companies are EVE and Real Intent.  With more than 70% of the development cycle of a system-on-chip (SoC) design being consumed by verification, these two companies are leading the way with innovative products.

I’m quite proud of EVE, an innovative emerging company formed in 2000 that’s turned the emulation market inside out.  Our goal, that we believe to be within reach, is to become the leader in hardware-assisted verification and embedded software validation for any-sized design, regardless of complexity and topology in any industry segment.  Over the years, EVE has unveiled several generations of emulation tools based on standard FPGAs that offer design teams a high return on investment. 

And, Real Intent, the formal verification leader that pioneered intent driven verification, underscores entrepreneurism at its best.  No one believed that formal verification could be commercialized after one company’s failure in the 1990s.  Instead, Real Intent, with its automatic formal verification software, has continued to defy expectations since 1999.

Of course, large companies have positive characteristics as well, just not entrepreneurial or especially innovative.  They often have vast resources for marketing programs and their sales channels are much better developed and coordinated then a startup’s.  These same large companies carefully track the progress of a startup and can be counted on to acquire them, when the timing’s right.  This is all part of the EDA ecosystem that’s worked for many years.

Startup, emerging company, large established players.  In an ecosystem such as EDA, we need both large suppliers and innovative small companies to keep driving and encouraging technological advances.

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