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22 January 2008


Nitronex raises $7.5m more in VC funding

Nitronex Corp of Durham, NC, USA, which manufactures gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) RF power transistors for the commercial wireless infrastructure, broadband and military markets, has raised $7.5m in new venture capital. This brings total funding to more than $80m since the firm was spun off from North Carolina State University in 1999, including $39.1m in previous venture rounds.

The latest funding comes from the same investors (Alloy Ventures, Arch Venture Partners, Intersouth Partners and Diamondhead Ventures) that participated in Nitronex’s previous $21.8m ‘ Series A-1’ fundraising round in June 2006 (which allowed the firm to expand its headquarters and manufacturing last year from Raleigh to a 69,000-square-foot facility in Durham, NC on property that it leased in 2002).

According to director of finance Jim Devivo, the latest funds will be used for:

  • completion of Nitronex’s transition from an R&D company to a volume production, ISO-certified company;
  • internal systems needed to expand production capabilities;
  • new product roadmaps and new process capabilities;
  • recruitment of production, engineering, customer support and administrative staff.

*In March 2007, Nitronex received a $100,000 grant from the Durham County commissioners for employee training. In negotiating the grant, Nitronex said it would invest $24m in the Durham facility and create 200 jobs over five years. Since moving to Durham, the firm has so far raised its headcount from 55 to more than 60, spokesperson Ray Crampton told the web-based publication WRAL Local Tech Wire.

However, the Triangle Business Journal reports that, in December, the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law of Raleigh, NC (which campaigns against corporate tax incentives) filed a lawsuit claiming that the grant (for a private company moving from one county to another) violates a requirement of the North Carolina State Constitution that any spending of public funds must be for a public purpose. Also, it claims that the incentives were unnecessary because Nitronex had already signed a lease for the property (in 2002).

Devivo told Semicondcutor Today that Nitronex currently has no comment on the pending suit.

But, according to an interview with Nitronex’s president and CEO Charles Shalvoy in the Raleigh News & Observer at the time the grant was made, before choosing Durham, Nitronex had been considering incentives from local and state leaders in California to relocate to Silicon Valley.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of former North Carolina house representative Russell Capps and Sean Haugh (head of the North Carolina Libertarian Party).

See related items:

Nitronex qualifies Durham wafer fab for volume production

Nitronex expands Richardson distribution agreement to Americas and Asia

Nitronex moving HQ to Durham, NC as part of expansion

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