Micron highlights innovation in sustainable manufacturing

Andrew Byrnes | March 2022

Micron is deeply committed to global sustainability initiatives. The search for more efficient, cleaner ways of doing business runs throughout our company and is well documented in our “Fast Forward: 2021 Sustainability Report.”

Micron Ventures is doing our part, investing in earth-friendly and sustainability-oriented technologies such as Taranis, Aqua Membranes, and Multiscale Technologies. But there’s more to be done, and we’re doing new ways to speed up adoption of sustainable tech.

Startups for Sustainability kicked off in 2021

One of these ways is the first Startups for Sustainability pitch event. The idea for this unique program was simple: Bring together the world’s largest semiconductor companies to create a unified, large-market opportunity to drive startup innovators focused on our industry. We collaborated with the venture teams from Intel, ASML, Applied Materials, LAM, Samsung, Tokyo Electron, Merck KGaA and KLA, as well as with venture capital partner Breakthrough Energy Ventures, to identify shared needs and accelerate knowledge transfer across the industry.

The program considered the unique needs of each partner and set guiding parameters, such as the following, to shape the engagement:

  • From corporations to startups: What are the market needs? How can startups best enter and ramp in semiconductor operations?
  • From startups to corporations: How can our innovation work best in your operations? How can manufactures adapt to accommodate early-stage innovation in their facilities?
  • Among the manufactures: What is working in our startup engagements? Are there gaps we can address together?

Then we scoured the globe for startups that offered sustainability solutions that we could put to use in the near term. In addition to being the first-of-its-kind pitch event for startups and the semiconductor industry, it is also the first that we know of where industry advisors were paired with semifinalists specifically to accelerate and deepen startup understanding of semiconductor customer needs.

Finalists were then selected, representing the top teams out of hundreds who demonstrated that they are bold, aggressive, focused, early-stage teams taking on major industrial challenges in three areas:

  • Clean energy and energy efficiency
  • Water recapture and reuse
  • Sustainable materials innovation and process emissions reductions

Through our global search, we’ve seen some wonderful innovation and promising technologies. Given the sheer volume, it took a lot of work by many people to get to where we are now, but I’m excited to share the nine finalists for this first ever Startups for Semiconductor Sustainability pitch event:

Three tables showing Energy water and materials

Here’s our take on semiconductor sustainability

Semiconductor manufacturing is one of the more resource-intensive human processes on the planet, but it’s also one of the most valuable and one whose influence is growing daily. Processors, memory, storage and connectivity are the backbone of our modern and future digital lives, powering everything from computers and smartphones to NFTs, cryptocurrencies and the metaverse (whatever that is!)

Even as we scale to meet today’s needs, we know we must push every boundary to scale sustainably to preserve the needs of tomorrow.

Everyone needs to do their part to tackle the sustainability challenge, and Micron is all in. By acting collectively, collaboratively and rapidly, Micron is committed to operating our processes and factories with greater water and energy efficiency while eliminating material waste and direct emissions when and where possible.

We’ll get there. And we are proud to use our position in the industry and work with peers to stimulate the best and brightest startups to solve real, high-impact challenges. Climate change presents big challenges for all of us. But these nine finalists give us great hope; they confirm that startup innovation is an essential element in the sustainability transition we’re making.

I’m thrilled at the results of this inaugural event. Together with our friends across the semiconductor ecosystem, we intend to run this program annually until we accomplish and exceed our sustainability goals and rebuild semiconductor operations in a way that ensures future, sustainable growth for all.

Director, Venture Capital - Artificial Intelligence

Andrew Byrnes

Andy is with Micron’s AI fund investing in some of the world’s top startups. He’s a recovering startup founder, writer, and solar/battery materials geek, and when he’s not thinking about technology innovation and startups, he’s probably running or doing something weird with his young’uns. And he’s big on words like “young’uns.”