Menlo Microsystems (Menlo Micro), a start-up focused on commercializing MEMS switch technology developed by General Electric, has raised $44 million in series B funding.

“This round of financing will enable us to significantly accelerate our product development and the scaling of our production lines," said Russ Garcia, CEO.

40 North Ventures led the series B round, joined by San Francisco-based Piva, Paladin Capital Group, Vertical Venture Partners and Tony Fadell’s Future Shape. Including this round, Menlo Micro has raised $78 million and is backed by Corning and Microsemi.

Following some 12 years of MEMS research at General Electric (GE), Chris Keimel and Chris Giovanniello co-founded Menlo Micro, aiming to bring a reliable, “ideal switch” to production.

“The concept of an ‘ideal switch’ was theoretical — something companies have been working to achieve for decades — until Menlo Micro,” said Marianne Wu, managing director of 40 North Ventures.

“For 40+ years, the industry has been searching for a switch that has the perfect combination of the electromechanical relay and the silicon transistor. Menlo Micro’s Ideal Switch™ is a tiny, efficient, reliable micro-mechanical switch with unmatched RF performance and, counterintuitively, high-power handling of thousands of watts," said Tony Fadell, founder of Nest and principal at Future Shape.

MEMS RF switches have performance advantages compared to electromechanical relays and solid-state switches, yet their widespread adoption has been hampered by reliability issues, which the research at GE solved, according to Menlo.

During the past 30 months, Menlo Micro has completed the transfer and qualification of its Ideal Switch manufacturing process, moving from a 4-inch research fab to a new 8-inch high-volume manufacturing line. Menlo says the qualification of the production manufacturing line will enable cost-effective production of more than 100,000 units per month by the end of the year, ramping to millions per month in 2021.

Menlo Micro has sampled products from its new production line to over 30 lead customers in its core target market groups: 5G mobile networks, aerospace and defense and test and measurement.

The series B round will fund Menlo’s expansion into new markets, including industrial IoT, home automation, electric vehicles, medical instrumentation and quantum computing.