De Beers Group, the world’s largest diamond company has set up investment offices in Silicon Valley to find and fund startups that use synthetic diamonds in their business.
The investment group, Element Six Ventures Group, has already funded a number of startups that use synthetic diamonds in the semiconductor industry and other manufacturing processes. Its new office will be in a Santa Clara, Calif. location that will also house an Element Six production site.
Synthetic diamonds have been in production for some time, but diamond experts have been able to tell them apart from geologic diamonds, where pure carbon crystallizes into the hardest known material under extreme heat and pressure. De Beers Group has a vested interest in being able to both mine diamonds in the real world and create them in the labs. Synthetic diamonds have found a number of uses in manufacturing.
“Synthetic diamonds’ extreme properties enhance performance in new technology applications to levels not otherwise possible,” said Susie Wheeler, managing director of Element Six Ventures Group. “Locating the Ventures’ office in Silicon Valley allows us to connect with new partners who, like us, want to develop these emerging technology investments.”
Element Six Ventures has been actively investing since 2006; it is a part of Element Six, the synthetic diamond group within De Beers Group. It specializes in seed to late-stage tech ventures that use synthetic diamonds and other “supermaterials” with commercial potential. The company has invested in seven companies within the cleantech, semiconductor and electronics sectors.
Portfolio companies include: California-based Group4 Labs, which develops gallium nitride-on-diamond semiconductor wafers for communications; Massachusetts-based EOI, which harnesses synthetic diamond-enabled electrodes to generate ozone for chemical-free sterilization and sanitization of water; and United Kingdom-based Diamond Detectors, which makes synthetic diamond radiation detectors that are used high-energy research at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research).