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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

De Beers Opens Ventures Capital Firm in Silicon Valley for its Man Made Diamonds

Element Six single crystal synthetic diamonds are used for cutting, optical, electronic and detector applications.

De Beer’s strategy of going outside the diamond industry to hire Philippe Mellier, who previously worked in the power generation and transport markets, may be paying off in ways that few of us anticipated.

What few people talk about, when discussing the De Beers Group is its full ownership of Element Six, the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of synthetic diamonds, which is used for industrial applications.

This low-profile division of De Beers opened an office in Santa Clara, Calif. For its established a venture group capital fund that will fund starts ups using its man-made diamonds for applications in a range of industries, including optics, power transmission, water treatment, semi-conductors and sensors.

Element Six Ventures Group will focus on broadening its portfolio of “early-stage emerging-technology investments” in the Silicon Valley region, the company said in a statement Monday.

“Synthetic diamond’s extreme properties enhance performance in new technology applications to levels not otherwise possible,” said Susie Wheeler, Element Six Ventures Group magaing director. “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 specializes in seed to late-stage technology operations that use synthetic diamond and other supermaterials demonstrating scalable and commercial potential. Since 2006, the firm has invested in seven companies operating within the clean-tech, semiconductor and electronics sectors. The companies include: California-based Group4 Labs, which develops Gallium Nitride-on-diamond semiconductor wafers for high frequency communication applications; Massachusetts-based EOI, which harnesses synthetic diamond-enabled electrodes to generate ozone for chemical free sterilization and sanitization of water; and UK-based Diamond Detectors, which manufactures synthetic diamond radiation detectors which are used on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).

Element Six’s main office is in Luxembourg and the company has manufacturing facilities in China, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa and the UK. The company’s name derives from carbon, the core ingredient in diamonds.

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