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Startup company Footprintku builds EDA cloud management platform

Jan 3,2019
Before the production of any electronic product, they must go through the Electronic Design Automation Process (EDA). In order to start designing new products, they must first go through a lengthy "pure manual" electronic component database. This results in excess time spent, wasted resources, and mistakes/errors. Founder and Chairman of the board, Yi-Chieng Huang, recalls this industry inconvenience, "This kind of thing can be done using a program. Why do you have to spend manpower and time to operate one by one?" At the time, Hwang faced a shortage of talents, and an abundance of doubts from CEO, and co-founder Yi-Ting Chen as he traveled to Kaohsiung, Taiwan from the United States in search of a group of talented engineers.
                
The challenge was to allow the group of young engineers to recognize the pain points of the industry. Determined to break the traditional EDA process, Hwang assembled a team of engineers to create the world's first global electronic data hub: Footprintku.
                

Core members of Footprintku (Resource: Footprintku)

The core team of Footprintku Inc. consisted of 12 people including a team of extensive knowledge on innovative technology research and development. Since Footprintku’s establishment in May 2015, it has made 120 million yuan in less than 4 years. On top of this amazing accomplishment,

the new team has become the first new team in the world to digitize electronic parts and materials with AI technology.
                    
Speaking of entrepreneurial roots, Chen proudly with a smile, "Everything is very coincidental!" If it wasn’t for the opportunity of Huang’s construction visit, this group would not have started a business together.
                

Paying attention to talent cultivation: Footprintku Inc. pushes for industry-university cooperation

Chen pointed out that since the inception of her business during her time in school, she has continued to communicate with her former professors even after graduation. To her, this served as another opportunity: providing a chance to nurture young talents while running a highly efficient and convenient service platform.

With the goal of giving back to the community, Footprintku strives to build a bridge between universities and the industry. Universities such as National Tsing Hua University, National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology, and Cheng Shiu University of Science and Technology have already delivered lectures, encouraged students to apply, and opened internship places so students can immediately connect with the professional industry. Chen pointed out that interns who are familiar with the process of the Footprintku during the internship period and have the opportunity to be promoted to supervisors after graduation.
                    
The saying, “talent is money” is suitable for the front-end work of the traditional EDA industry. Chen mentioned with a smile, “Hwang’s return to Taiwan to find talents was because the company's engineers were ridiculed.” Chen demonstrated the actual traditional construction process versus the comparison process of the FBK library artificial intelligence EDA cloud platform operation. In the traditional process of building parts, the engineer must first go through a lengthy electronic component database to complete the operation, and input all the specifications of the new product individually. After that process, it is necessary to check and verify again before the design work can be officially started. However, Chen later said, "Whether the artificially constructed materials are completely correct depends on whether or not the engineer responsible for the inspection is precise." Footprintku serves to completely revolutionize this painstaking EDA process, "An engineer with 2 years of experience will take approximately 40 minutes to build a simple electronic component." Chen said, "Even difficult parts will take only hours and not days!"
                    
In contrast, the automatic digitization technology using Footprintku library artificial intelligence only needs to select 7 basic data information such as package name, manufacturer name, product name, etc. In less than 1 minute, the system will automatically generate build files to improve the pain points of traditional complex, error-prone, and difficult management. Footprintku has observed this problem and come up with a solution to solve it. With the advantages of the
                    
undergraduate department and the development of technology, the company has developed a self-learning service robot, Robot Ku, to replace the work of manually building a part database.
                    
Footprintku is revolutionary in trying to break the EDA industry's unchanging electronic design workflow, pioneering the cloud-based SaaS platform, introducing AI technology to combine the three advantages of customization, intelligence and high efficiency, and developing a learning robot: Robot Ku.
Robot Ku, Footprintku’s self-learning service robot

Improving traditional pain points by managing files easily on the cloud

Chen explained, "Footprintku's current services mainly include FPK Studio and FPK Vault.” Like Google, it is a platform developed for engineers in the electronics field. In addition to putting various resources and solutions on the platform, Footprintku.com also provides expert insights in the electronics field as a platform for information exchange.

FPK Studio is a custom electronic parts design cloud database. It can automatically convert part specifications according to requirements and produce the required board parts footprint (PCB footprint), line symbol (Schematic Symbol) and 3D models within 24 hours. These three design file formats are directly compatible with the major EDA tool software.
                    
Chen also pointed out that the FPK Vault parts database cloud management service adopts a centralized/decentralized management mode to search files in a short time through target search; whether it is editing, version control, or design verification, it can be easily done on the cloud platform. In addition, after sharing permissions are enabled, project cooperation can be completed without re-transferring files.
                    
FPK Vault is designed to meet the needs of users to securely upload, preview, and edit databases anytime, anywhere. In addition to the above-mentioned advantages of easy management in cloud security, FPK Vault is managed by Microsoft Azure mechanism, and users can safely store, preview, edit, and search for files without additional download tools or authorization.
                    
Chen added, "Footprintku wants engineers to use this service whenever and wherever they want, so they choose to build this service on the cloud platform."
                    
In the business of the Footprintku service, a large number of AI technologies are used to assist in the conversion of product specifications. Since each company requires different formats, customization and understanding customer needs have become one of the company’s main priorities. For instant demand and convenience, Footprintku is also very focused on developing cloud and web platforms.
                    
From the technical management level, three major departments are extended. The AI and automation technology R&D departments are mainly responsible for the development of related technologies for parts construction, including image identification, part specification analysis and special parts construction requirements, etc., to assist EDA to build the footprint; CAE (computer aid engineer) application service department is responsible for directly facing customers at the front end, and initially understands customized content (such as parts construction rules); cloud technology research and development department is responsible for the development and maintenance of Footprintku.com.

Footprintku establishes a common standardized format

Chen pointed out that Footprintku is providing services in hopes of setting a standard format in the future. Because the current roadmap standards and electronic specifications are not common, there are many EDA tools and construction rules that are different according to the EDA software tools selected by the company. The EDA process can have a set of industry-standard electronic component standardization format ".FPK".

 Looking forward to the future, Chen said with great enthusiasm, "In the beginning of setting up the database in the cloud, it is to position the market globally! Currently, I hope to stand firm and the US market, and continue to promote it to other countries in the future.”

"The world's first …" is an opportunity and a test

From the roots of 12 people sharing 6 desks, the number of employees has exceeded 100. Chen could not help but sigh, "Because entrepreneurship is really hard, it’s really hard to get 12 people still, and none of them are running!" She then added that because this technology has never been done in the world, I don't know what will happen in the future.

Recalling the difficulties faced in entrepreneurship, Chen said, "When this team was founded, not everyone is very optimistic about it, and the systems that are often done must be reinstated," but fortunately the team is undergraduate. The system is born, so you can quickly master the technology.
                    
Chen also said frankly, "The biggest difficulty is to persuade the industry to change," but in recent years, companies have begun to believe that they can rely on technology to replace the previous manpower. Under the continuous promotion of the team, more and more customers agree with their ideas and are willing to adopt this platform.
                    
"Can we really change this industry?" The doubts in the initial period seem to have finally come to an end. Chen said modestly, "I still don't think we have succeeded yet. We still have a long way to go," but she said firmly, “I believe that Footprintku will never fail".



【CTIMES   LiYun Shih】 (完整文章請點此)
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