Startup@IITD: High Performance Digital Imaging and Semiconductor Solutions

The main expertise of IIT Delhi startup Luminasic is in the field of design, testing, manufacture of semiconductors, ASIC, CMOS image sensors, analogue ICs, digital basics, hard or soft IPs and other semiconductor devices. The company also deals in different types of sensors, semiconductor IPs, doped and undoped wafers, wafer masks, test boards, test peripherals & test software and other ASIC test products or systems. The goal of the company is to develop the world's leading high-performance digital imaging and semiconductor solutions. The main focus is on R&D development and seeks to deliver products and technology that are innovative.

Prof Mukul Sarkar, director of the company spells out the challenges, the future roadmap in an interview with Dr Vanita Srivastava.

Edited excerpts from the interview

How did you get the idea for the startup?


The image sensor lab at IIT Delhi has been designing CMOS image sensors over 6 years now. We are the only academic lab in the country with the expertise to design custom made imaging solutions for a given application. The success of the lab in delivering working imagers was the first point of thinking about a startup.

The market for imaging solutions is rapidly increasing. We thought to leverage our expertise in designing imaging sensors and contribute to the developing markets in its need of imaging solution.


What were the main challenges?


Starting a startup for imaging solutions is a challenging affair indeed. The primary challenge is the availability of the funds. Lack of fabrication house in India compels us to depend on the fabrication houses outside the country. The cost of development of imaging sensors is very high which explains the existence of limited number of companies in the business. The existing business have over the years grown to a stature that challenging them has become difficult. The next challenge was thus to develop a niche area for us to be grow while preventing competition from the giants in the imaging field. Availability of trained manpower especially in the required domain of Analogue/Mixed signal for the design of the sensors was also a challenge. Fortunately the imaging sensor lab has over the years trained manpower in this domain which are now becoming resourceful.


What is the future roadmap?


Luminasic will be focused in four core markets: Security Systems, Defence Systems, Medical and Mobility. We will focus on designing solutions for Indian market which has a huge potential to grow. We have already started a close relationship with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) wherein we are discussing products which cater to the Indian applications. To strengthen the work relationship with ISRO, we have recently opened a branch office in Ahmedabad. We are also discussing projects for indigenous developments of imaging solutions in the field of Defence. We hope the technical known how and the zeal to grow will help Luminasic be one point solutions for the imaging problems of the country.


How do you tackle competition in the business?


Luminasic realizes that competing with players like Sony, Panasonic which are active in the field of commercial imaging solutions will be difficult. We have thus focused on developing custom design imaging solutions for needs of the country. India for example highly relies on foreign partners for its Defence and security imaging solutions. Luminasic is keen to develop products which will cater to these specific needs. These imaging sensors market is not volume based but custom based. Luminasic wants to create a niche in the custom based solutions.


How do you tackle the customer related issues?


We work closely with the customer in the development of new sensor solutions right from the start. The customer describes the application, and we contribute the technical standards with our expertise.


The Startup Team: B. K. Joshi, Atul Joshi, Tarun Batra, Vinod Sharma, Abhishek Shrivastava, Naresh, Ramesh and Neha Priyadarshini.