Semiconductor industry trailblazer Ranovus lands $36M in federal funding

Hamid Arabzadeh is president and CEO of Kanata-based Ranovus. File photo

As a wave of layoffs roars through the embattled tech sector, a Kanata-based firm that helps make computer chips faster and more energy-efficient is poised to go on a hiring binge thanks to a multimillion-dollar cash infusion from the federal government.

Ranovus announced Monday it has received $36 million from the feds’ Strategic Innovation Fund to help ramp up domestic production of its patented fibre-optic technology, which aims to replace less efficient electrical circuits in high-performance computers that run data centre servers. 

The money will go towards a planned expansion of the firm’s manufacturing facilities in Canada that will see its headcount grow to more than 200 full-time employees and 150 co-op students.

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“We are investing $100 million to further scale our next-generation AI interconnect platform and are delighted by the continued support of the Strategic Innovation Fund to help keep Canada at the leading edge of the next generation of AI native infrastructure,” Ranovus president and CEO Hamid Arabzadeh said in a statement.

Founded in 2012, Ranovus specializes in interconnects, the infrastructure that connects transistors and other components of semiconductors. In addition to its Kanata-based R&D and production facility, the company has offices in California and Germany.

In 2018, Arabzadeh told Techopia he believes his firm’s fibre-optic data-transfer technology will eventually become the new industry standard. The company had raised more than $60 million in funding prior to Monday’s announcement, attracting investment from venture capital heavyweights such as OMERS Ventures.

Ranovus already works with some of the world’s biggest data centre service providers, a group that includes Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple. 

With artificial intelligence rapidly becoming the next big thing in computing, Arabzadeh says the need for faster chips has never been greater. That’s where Ranovus comes in.

“To support this unprecedented growth, thousands of computer chips must be interconnected with massive data pipes to create an artificial intelligence cluster,” he said.

Ranovus claims its newest interconnect chips for AI applications, dubbed ODIN, are 80 per cent smaller and consume 75 per cent less energy than their closest rival. The company says its technology will enable data centres to handle the growing demand for more complex artificial intelligence and machine learning applications while using about 14 per cent less power than today’s most efficient products.

Ranovus said the federal funding will help it “remain a leader in its field while contributing to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from data centres.”

The announcement comes just days after the federal government and U.S. tech giant IBM signed a deal to boost semiconductor research and development in Canada.

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