Tusk IC: the millimeter wave chips spin-off from KU Leuven

Tusk IC is the latest spin-off from KU Leuven and develops chips for millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies. These chips are essential for the new generation of radars for self-driving cars and for the new 5G standard and its ultra-fast data communication.

The company was founded by four electrical engineers, who obtained their PhD from KU Leuven in the ESAT-MICAS research group. Tusk IC received investments in the form of technology IP and capital from KU Leuven and the Gemma Frisius Fund. The company is located in Antwerp.

The miniaturization of silicon ICs (integrated circuits) has ensured that very high frequencies can be processed in very compact, affordable chips. This makes a whole range of new applications possible. The most important markets for Tusk IC are the automotive industry (radars for self-driving cars), telecom (5G, wireless HDMI and VR) and industrial quality control. During their PhD, the founders specialized in the design of millimeter wave and terahertz chips in silicon technologies such as CMOS and SiGe.

According to CEO Wouter Steyaert, the interest and reactions are very positive: “With Tusk IC we fill a void in the current electronics landscape. There is a lot of interest in the development of mmWave chips for 5G and autonomous vehicles, but few engineers have concrete experience with it. Our complementary team has pioneered these frequencies during the research at KU Leuven. With Tusk IC we can offer this knowledge and experience to both established multinationals and emerging companies in the mmWave market.

Professor Patrick Reynaert (ESAT-MICAS, Department of Electrical Engineering) explains: “About 10 years ago, my team at KU Leuven started researching mmWave silicon chips. We have developed the building blocks for 28 GHz to 600 GHz, used for 5G and radar. My research group has set up a reliable methodology, which offers an answer to the many challenges that come with these high frequencies. This has led to mmWave circuits whose measured results are closely related to the simulations. In my view, the time is now ripe to make this expertise available for the semiconductor industry. ”

With the advent of autonomous vehicles and 5G, the demand for mmWave chips will only increase. Tusk IC is determined to be the go-to company for mmWave IC design.


About Tusk IC

Tusk IC was founded as a spin-off of KU Leuven in 2018, from the ESAT-MICAS research group. The company has extensive research and industrial experience in the field of millimeter wave IC design in CMOS and SiGe BiCMOS. The focus is on design services and high-frequency measurements for silicon millimeter wave circuits from 10 to 600 GHz. Tusk IC has an office in Antwerp. More info at http://www.tusk-ic.com

About Gemma Frisius Fund

The Gemma Frisius Fund (GFF) is a seed capital fund that was set up in 1997 as a joint venture between KU Leuven, the KBC group and the BNP Paribas group. The fund aims to stimulate the establishment and growth of KU Leuven spin-off companies by providing them with seed capital at their earliest stages of life and combining the expertise of the university in the area of ​​transfer of research and technologies with the financial and investment expertise of the two banks.

“The Gemma Frisius Fund has already financed several ESAT-MICAS spin-offs with a focus on IC design in the past 20 years. Given the experience and technical skills of the founding team, we are convinced that Tusk IC also has all the hallmarks to become a success story, “says Raf Moons, director of Gemma Frisius-Fonds.

About KU Leuven, ESAT-MICAS

KU Leuven was founded in 1425 and is, in addition to the oldest, also the most innovative university in Europe (Reuters). With its 58,000 students and more than 20,000 employees, it is also the largest university in Belgium. ESAT-MICAS, a research group of the Department of Electrical Engineering, is world leader in micro and nanoelectronics. It consists of 8 professors and more than 75 PhD and post-doctoral researchers. Tusk IC is the 7th and most recent spin-off of ESAT-MICAS.

Rudi Cuyvers, head of Spin-off & Innovation at KU Leuven Research & Development: “KU Leuven Research & Development (LRD) supports enterprising researchers in incubating and setting up their spin-off company. With Tusk IC, LRD is at the cradle of the 126th spin-off. We are proud that Tusk IC will be at the heart of the next generation of integrated circuits that are located in the mm-wave area with important applications such as 5G and autonomous vehicles. “