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Applied Materials says goodbye to its venture fund

Applied Materials Ventures has, since 2001, invested roughly $23 million in early-stage equipment companies.

Applied Materials, the world's largest manufacturer of semiconductor equipment, will dissolve Applied Materials Ventures, an investment fund it set up in August 2001, according to a spokesman. The company invested roughly $23 million in the fund, which sought to invest in early-stage equipment companies.

Applied specializes in machines that spray chemicals onto silicon wafers and scrape off the excess. The high expense of semiconductor equipment--some individual machines can sell for as much as $15 million or more--have forced many chipmakers to split costs on factories. Because of the challenges in improving chips, however, new equipment companies continue to get venture investments, according to Dave Epstein, a partner at venture firm Crosslink Capital.