26 March 2010


Nitronex raises $16m to finance expansion

According to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nitronex of Durham, NC, USA, which makes gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) RF power transistors for the commercial wireless infrastructure, broadband and military markets, has raised $16.47m in a private stock offering from its four main existing venture capital backers: Alloy Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, Intersouth Partners, and Diamondhead Ventures.

It’s the third round of financing from those investors, who have invested more than of $50m, according to CEO Charlie Shalvoy in a report in the Triangle Business Journal. Nitronex has received almost $100m in total since being spun out of North Carolina State University in 1999, including $21.8m in funding in June 2006 (leading to commercially availability of its first chips in late 2006). In 2007, the firm moved from Raleigh, NC to its current 69,000ft2 facility after Durham County offered a $100,000 grant as an incentive (with Nitronex saying it would invest $24m in the facility and create 200 jobs in the first five years after the move). In January 2008, the firm closed on $7.5m in financing, and in April 2009 raised $4m through a debt offering.

In another report in The News & Observer, Katrin Burt of Durham-based Intersouth Partners says that the new funding will be used to expand its operations so that it can take advantage of new market opportunities. “Over the last year or so, we have seen the industry become much more accepting of gallium nitride as a material,” she adds. Shalvoy says Nitronex is raising funds now because customers that had been considering Nitronex’s chips are starting to ramp up their purchases as they incorporate the technology into the next generation of products.

Nitronex currently employs about 60 staff in Durham, but Shalvoy says the firm will be hiring engineers for R&D as well as sales & marketing staff (including a sales director for Europe) as the firm plans to boost sales of its chips into both military and commercial applications.

Already, in mid-March, Nitronex recruited a director of North American Sales and appointed three sales representative firms: TAI Corp (in Maryland and Virginia); Tri-Tech Electronics (in upstate New York); and Thom Luke Sales (in Arizona and New Mexico).

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