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On Tuesday, electronics multinational TDK announced that its “hard-tech” venture capital arm, TDK Ventures, has invested in Massachusetts-headquartered 5G infrastructure innovator Verana Networks. The investment aims to accelerate the commercialization of Verana’s 5G radio access network (RAN) technology, an offering that TDK says promises reduction in cost, improved performance, and more effective installation, the potential of which is gaining traction with customers and investors.

As the demand for 5G data increases, TDK notes that service providers will have to put their high-capacity millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum into play. But current 5G RAN products are designed for traditional cellular spectrum, and building a 5G network in mmWave spectrum with derivatives of these products has proven to be cost prohibitive. Verana is building a new 5G technology platform from scratch, with purpose-built software-defined hardware that it says delivers superior economics for dense outdoor small cell deployments in mmWave spectrum.

TDK’s investment follows a 2020 Series A venture capital round for Verana of $11 million, led by Spark Capital, and with participation from Aspiro Capital, DC Investment Partners and Bold Capital.

“We believe that our vision to dramatically improve the economics of millimeter wave deployments, and our decades of experience building innovative radio-access network products for major mobile network operators, gives us an edge in the fast-growing multi-billion-dollar market for 5G network infrastructure,” Verana Co-founder and CEO Dr. Vedat Eyuboglu said. “We are excited to have the support and backing of a sophisticated and experienced set of investors.”

Verana’s 5G RAN technology innovations continue a long tradition of excellence by company founders Dr. Eyuboglu and Amit Jain. This team of serial entrepreneurs enabled the first all-IP 3G-based stations, first dual-mode 2G/3G small cells, and the first scalable 4G small-cell systems. With similar RAN approaches, they say they are already revolutionizing 5G.

“Verana has an experienced team, with a clear vision to accelerate digital transformation through the incoming megatrend that is 5G mmWave technology. Their innovative approach is accepted by experts as a game-changing way to reduce cost, and they’ve already established solid traction with important partners,” said TDK Ventures President Nicolas Sauvage. “The TDK Ventures team is excited to partner and further enable Verana’s development. Our shared vision of a more connected world is a perfect opportunity for us to spread valued TDK Goodness and support Verana’s vision to improve communication, AR/VR, and even IoT technology.”

In addition to financial backing, TDK Ventures will make available their extensive network connections, including industry partners and exposure to other TDK business units. Their platform team will also provide support to include early product validation, pilots, customer/channel/ecosystem access, market knowledge, operating expertise (e.g., materials, manufacturing, fabless, supply chain) and go-to-market/branding mentorship.

The news comes days after TDK Ventures announced an investment microLED developer VueReal Inc. to on-ramp its microprinting manufacturing process for display industries – including smart phones, watches, automotive display, and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR).

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