26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Faran Nouri, Lam Research Capital

Faran Nouri is a founding member of Lam Research Capital, the corporate venturing arm of US-based wafer fabrication equipment and services provider Lam Research. She joined Lam Research in 2014 when the firm was looking to set up a corporate venturing unit.

Coming from an engineering background with a bachelor’s and a master’s degrees in electrical and electronics engineering from University of Colorado Boulder, Nouri had begun her career as an engineer, first at Hewlett-Packard and TMA, before being appointed as a technology developer at NXP Semiconductors, then known as VLSI Technology and later as Philips Semiconductors.

She explained: “I was a long-time semiconductor industry technologist when I dropped out of the industry to attend Stanford’s graduate school of business.” She was a director at industrial manufacturing equipment provider Applied Materials for 11 years before returning to university to earn her second master’s degree, this time in management.

“Following graduation, I tried my hand at a startup, learned a lot about the startup world and its challenges,” she said, having been a co-founder and adviser at crowdfunded solar energy startup 98lumens. She said she “ultimately decided that I would make a better investor than a startup founder”.

On why she decided to join a corporate venture capital unit, she said: “There is never a boring day, I find the job extremely stimulating and interesting. I love meeting creative thinkers to learn about new technologies. As a CVC, I get to leverage my technical skills in an industry I know.”

Nouri’s initial responsibilities included drawing up Lam Research Capital’s vision and mission and specifying the areas of investment of strategic relevance to the parent company. She set up an evergreen fund with a run rate of $50m a year and hired investors with domain expertise.

Today, the unit invests in early-stage companies developing technologies in four areas – life sciences, industrial automation, semiconductor and technology extensions – focusing on series A and B investments of $1m to $3m per round.

Being a relatively young fund, Nouri said the unit had yet to establish a strong track record, but it had “several exciting companies in its portfolio”. It participated in a $30m series B round for Mission Bio, a US-based DNA analysis spinout of University of California, San Francisco in December 2018.

Other portfolio companies include US-based plant-based medicines provider Antheia, US-based 3D medical visualisation software developer Echopixel, US-based nanoglass coating supplier KaiaTech, proprietary DNA sequencing platform developer Omniome, Canada-based semiconductor wafer processing applications’ peak process control technology developer Reno Subsystems and US-based 3D and optics solutions provider TetraVue.

Nouri’s ambition is to invest in still more “companies that make a difference”. Her greatest accomplishment to date in the unit, she added, was “establishing the group, developing best practices and forming a network of partners to build a healthy pipeline”.

Seeing corporate venturing as a long-term commitment, she said: “It requires faith on the part of the company in the early years until we demonstrate our strategic value to Lam Research.” Thanks to her team’s perseverance and dedication, she said, she was now able to pinpoint the value Lam Research Capital delivers to its parent.