U-M startup SkyGig aims to take 5G to the next level

With new funding in the company, the hardtech startup is bringing revolutionary technologies to reshape mmWave wireless.

Jam and Kosari Enlarge
Dr. Armin Jam and Dr. Avish Kosari

Two University of Michigan researchers are steadily building their young company, SkyGig, to bring the next generation of high-speed wireless connectivity to the 5G ecosystem, satellite communications (Satcom), and beyond.

Since founding the company a year ago in 2019, they have attracted $1M in new funding from NSF, NASA, and Activate, and are now expanding their team to accelerate development and commercialization of their disruptive technology.

“Millimeter-wave (mmWave) technology is at the frontier of wireless communications, and as such, still provides significant challenges,” said Dr. Armin Jam, co-founder of the company. “At SkyGig, we are targeting the higher portion of the radio frequency spectrum, referred to as the millimeter-wave band, with key applications in 5G, SatCom, and automotive radar, among other emerging markets”

SkyGig co-founders Jam and Dr. Avish Kosari aim to lead in this area by bringing innovative holistic approaches to mmWave transceiver technologies through their combined expertise in electromagnetics and antennas, and RF integrated circuits, respectively.

“Through fundamental research and development, our technology enables a new class of mmWave RF front-end technologies needed to unlock the full potential of mmWave wireless communications and networks” said Kosari. “This technology solves the underlying limitations of the existing mmWave technologies and enables an array of new products that are pivotal to a variety of wireless industries and markets.”

SkyGig is promising performance that is an order of magnitude higher than the existing technologies to bring long-range, high data-rate communications to a wide variety of wireless applications, including 5G. With its combination of ultra-low latency, high speed, high reliability, high capacity, and potential for ubiquitous use, 5G will usher in a multitude of highly anticipated applications, while dramatically improving the functionality of existing wireless services.

SkyGig is a hard tech startup, with technology based on key scientific innovations. It often takes longer to develop hard tech, and is more resource intensive, so the risks are greater. That’s ok with this team, who understand the potential pitfalls of entrepreneurship.

Armed with deep knowledge in RF integrated circuits and millimeter-wave antennas, and an entrepreneurial mindset honed from programs in the Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE), Jam and Kosari were independently considering starting their own companies while doctoral researchers at the University of Michigan. But as they talked about their plans, they saw a future in combining their expertise to help reach the full potential of the new 5G, and entered the ECE Innovator Program to test out their ideas. The goal of that program was to inspire and facilitate the commercialization of research conducted in ECE by providing financial support to a team of entrepreneurs with both technical and product management skills.

After earning first place and $75K in the ECE Innovator Program as well as being awarded a Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) grant in 2018-19, they have been recognized by various awards and programs with more than $1M in funding sponsored by NSF, NASA, and Activate, among others. In addition, Jam and Kosari were both selected as Entrepreneurial Fellows in the Activate program at Cyclotron Road Berkeley-CA, which supports leading entrepreneurial scientists as they advance technology innovations with the potential for global impact.

With this new round of funding, SkyGig is expanding their team and business with several hires to further develop and commercialize their disruptive technology.