Brno success stories: Codasip –The Next Chip Power in Europe?

Vlastimil Veselý

Almost everybody has heard about the shortage of chips for car makers and other industries in Europe. 80-90% of chip components are produced in the US, another significant chip power is Asia while Europe is lagging behind. Brno based Codasip is the Nr. 1 producer of RISC based processors in Europe, having a turnover of USD 3 million and clients in 15+ countries. 

I spoke with Codasip’s founder, Karel Masařík, about the ups and downs of doing business from Brno and the key factors to their success. Theirs is the 17th in a series of interviews I am conducting with the personalities behind notable Brno companies that operate internationally.

Karel co-founded Codasip in 2014 after 10 years of research as a PhD in Germany. The company launching the world’s first commercial RISC-V core soon received USD 4.5 million from Credo Ventures investment fund for funding sales activities in Japan and Israel. Four years later Western Digital and other private equity firms invested another USD 10 million and became key partners.

Nowadays, Codasip is Europe’s leading RISC-V processor solutions company with a global presence. Billions of chips already use our technology. The company employs 200 people in total, and approximately half of them in Brno. 

The Codasip mission was democratizing processor design, microprocessor architects and software engineers and capture it in tools that made design simpler, faster, and less expensive.

Their main clients are global corporations like Samsung, Intel or Bosch. About a half of their revenues comes from universities and other research institutions. In general, their customers are organisations working with semiconductors or in the area of material processing or microbiology.

Becoming international

In 2019 Codasip succeeded to win research funding from the European Horizon2020 scheme and set up a strategic design centre in Nice, France. In 2020 it opened another one in Bristol, UK, and one year later in Greece and Spain. Codasip also acquired Cerberus, a UK company specialized in designing and building secure IoT products.

Their US reference list includes clients such as NASA, navy bases or Air Force research centres. Codasip became a member of the CHIPS Alliance and attracted a foreign CEO.

What next

The European Union is currently preparing the Chip Act aiming to support the chip industry with EUR 42 billion in order to make Europe self-sufficient and get more start-ups on the market. Codasip could become a more successful international player next to American and Asian companies.

The company has recently established Codasip Labs – an innovation hub creating an environment for cooperative research between Codasip and its partners, customers and academia. The aim is to support the technology development & commercialization and training of the next generation of engineers, within the ecosystem forming around the EU Chips Act.

Home in Brno

The city has the right size, the local talent pool is well mixed with foreign specialists and there is also the Technology park, so the potential for cooperation with Brno is high.

The key strength, Karel says, is the local technical talent. The Codasip cooperation with Brno universities, CEITEC (The Central European Institute of Technology) and the Cybersecurity hub results in recruiting over 5-10 graduates a year. Though they need to bring them up. The biggest con of doing business from Brno is the lack of flight connections. On the other hand the short distance to Vienna and Prague helps. ”According to our sales team Brno is a hidden treasure,” Karel says in closing.

Karel graduated the IT Faculty of the Brno University of Technology where he also received a PhD. He lives in a family house outside of Brno together with his wife and two little daughters. Karel likes gardening and relaxing in the sauna or on PlayStation. His worktable must have a quality green tea on it.

Codasip in numbers

Turnover (in mil CZK)314869
Employees worldwide7390102
Employees in Brno677480
Share of R&D costs (in %)486262