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Former Foxconn executive Alan Yeung has moved on to his newest entrepreneurial endeavor

BizTimes Milwaukee - Ashley Smart

Jun 24, 2024

Former Foxconn executive Alan Yeung has moved on to his newest entrepreneurial endeavor as the new chief executive officer of Wauwatosa-based Ingantec Corp., an electronics manufacturer that makes technology for microLED displays. In May, the startup closed a $2 million seed round to accelerate the commercialization of its nitride-based compound semiconductors for optoelectronics used in AR/VR, smartwatches, phones, computers, cars and TVs. The funding round, led by Milwaukee-based private equity firm Lubar & Co., drew interest and participation from prominent local business leaders including Jon Hammes, chairman and CEO of Hammes Healthcare, and Ted Kellner, former chairman and CEO of Fiduciary Management Inc. BizTimes reporter Ashley Smart spoke with Yeung about what attracted him to Ingantec and why he thinks the company’s microLED technology is being developed at the perfect time.

What have you been doing professionally since working for Foxconn?

“Soon after the pandemic, it became very clear that Foxconn and the state of Wisconsin was coming to a conclusion and that the project would be scaled down. Therefore, I thought my role would not be as big as before. I decided to pursue something else. UW-Madison’s dean for the College of Engineering, who I had served on the college’s industry advisory board with, wanted to strengthen the entrepreneurship at the university. They wanted to create more startups and more company successes, so I signed up for that (in April 2022).”

What problem is Ingantec trying to solve?

“For several years, thin film transistor liquid crystal displays (TFT LCDs), which was actually the technology Foxconn was going to bring to Wisconsin, had been the mainstream technology. About seven to 10 years ago, it was supplanted by what we call organic LED, and then by microLED, which is the next generation of liquid crystal displays. What you see now with TVs, iPhones, MacBooks, etc. is that organic LED is not that stable. It actually has very slow response times, and the contrast is not very good. The brightness is not very good. There are a lot of drawbacks. MicroLEDs solve a lot of the problems that organic LEDs and TFT LCDs cannot. They can offer high brightness and contrast as well as low energy consumption. You would probably see the first application of products using microLEDs in smartwatches or VR glasses.”

How did you first hear about Ingantec?

“The two founders (Shubhra Pasayat and Chirag Gupta) came to UW-Madison as assistant professors. They wanted to start a new company. They received their PhDs from UC Santa Barbara in California but left because they didn’t have any support. Later on, they invited me to join forces with them. Even though I was working at UW-Madison as an employee, I could still advise them on the board level. Later, when the company became more and more viable, I had to choose between working as an employee for UW-Madison or becoming a civilian again. It was late 2023 when I actually left UW as an employee.”

What intrigued you about the company’s vision?

“I could see the marketplace was looking for a solution that scholars and scientists might actually have the answer to. We started building up the business case and talking to supporters and advisors (in late 2022). I think we got a lot of validation, and the company was incorporated in October 2022.”

How far away is Ingantec from commercializing its innovation?

“There are certain milestones we want to reach in the next six to 12 months. One of them is to demonstrate viability and how compelling our technology would be in a prototype or a proof-of-concept situation. When that happens, I think we can create value for our shareholders and stakeholders. That is one milestone. Another one is building up our capabilities and our people. Being able to recruit engineers, scientists, maybe even members of an advisory board, contractors, consultants, advisors… On the other hand, we need to build up the physical infrastructure, starting with an office. We were at the UW Innovation Accelerator for a while but now we are moving on to the Innovation Park in Wauwatosa. They have resources, they have labs and they have other spaces that could be used in the future. We would not rule that out.”

What impact could Ingantec’s work have on our tech ecosystem?

“We may have an innovation that has been compelling enough to not only create a product but to create a company and maybe even launch an industry. That’s very exciting. If you think about big names like Google or Facebook, these names are not only large companies but large industries changing the world. At Ingantec, we’re working on a small piece of a component within a microLED, but this is the most compelling and needed piece within the microLED. You use it to solve this big, big problem that is challenging for everybody. You can really create a lot of value and create a lot of momentum for a tech hub ecosystem.”

What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s recent investments in the state? Could the company help create a tech hub?

“However happy or disappointed people were about the project, Foxconn invested over a billion dollars (in Mount Pleasant) and brought a lot of worldwide attention to the state of Wisconsin – so has the federal government with the widening of the I-94 corridor. There’s a lot of partnership and co-investment. Now, I think Governor Evers and his administration and (Microsoft) are collaborating very well. The best thing to happen is to have Foxconn and Microsoft in Wisconsin. I think many of us, including myself, take pride in that. There’s a great amount of excitement going on in Mount Pleasant and if there’s an opportunity down the road, we’d love to be able to find a way to get back down there and build our operations and scale up sites.”

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