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SPARK and the Canadian Semiconductor Opportunity: A Global Endeavor with Local Roots

  • March 14, 2024

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SPARK Microsystems is proudly headquartered in Montreal, and we celebrate our roots here! More importantly, we take care to help cultivate these roots. Today, our local technology ecosystem is blossoming.

The semiconductor business opportunity in Canada continues to flourish, thanks in large part to our talented and enthusiastic peers and partners in the Canadian tech, academic and investor communities. We share great aspirations to make Canada’s tech sector among the world’s great technology hubs.

To help achieve this, the team at SPARK Microsystems thinks in global terms, for important reasons. 

One, we believe UWB can be, should be and will be the short-range, mobile-optimized wireless platform of choice globally going forward – the next evolution beyond Bluetooth, and likewise a household name. 

Ambitious? We believe in our technology. And we think big! It’s genuinely invigorating to wake up each day with a passion to perfect technology that can improve connectivity for everyone and help sustain the environment. Our global customers embrace our passion, and likewise we embrace theirs. 

Second, experience shows us that technology and business acumen can derive from anywhere in the world, and SPARK endeavors to find it! SPARK is fortunate to draw talent and perspective from around the globe. Together we strategize for Canada’s success in semiconductor design and manufacturing, leveraging Canada’s strengths—a rich talent pool, clean energy, modern infrastructure and an expansive network of leadership and support throughout education and government. Working together we can catalyze the sector’s growth. 

CANADA’S INAUGURAL SEMICONDUCTOR SUMMIT

We’re also guided to think globally when it comes to the semiconductor technology and supply chain ecosystem. This was one of the major themes underlining the recent inaugural meeting of Canada’s Semiconductor Council (CSC), which SPARK  is proud to help lead. Our own Frederic Nabki serves as an advisory board member to help CSC with its mission to accelerate the growth and development of Canada’s semiconductor sector.

Gathering together key industry and government decision-makers from Canada and the US, Canada’s Semiconductor Summit helped establish priorities and define opportunities to enhance the competitiveness of Canada’s semiconductor sector in the context of tectonic shifts reshaping the global economy. The CSC acknowledges some important new realities. In their own words:

“As manufacturing reshores and semiconductors eclipse oil as the 21st century’s vital commodity, Canada is taking its place as a critical link in the North American semiconductor ecosystem. The US Chips and Science Act’s $53B US investment in American capacity is recalibrating market dynamics—and Canada’s Semiconductor sector is poised for growth.”

The anticipated influx of system design talent and fabrication capacity into Canada will be great for the tech ecosystem and local economy (and for SPARK, it expands opportunities for our successful fabless semi business model). This is important stuff with local and global ramifications. The CSC is out in front of it, and SPARK is proud to support its mission.

IoT & THE ‘AI BOOM’

One of the central themes at Canada’s Semiconductor Summit focused on the role AI advancements will play in transforming the technology ecosystem for the semiconductor market and beyond, with major implications for the IoT and smart infrastructure. IoT-optimized chips and devices are poised for tremendous growth, leveraging the combined strengths of efficient processing and low-latency connectivity to achieve real-time responsiveness. 

This synergy is essential for optimizing latency chains from end to end. In IoT applications, the integration of SPARK’s UWB technology can ensure seamless, instantaneous communication and monitoring critical for sensors, smart devices and autonomous systems.

SPARK UWB’s extreme low power profile is such that a SPARK-enabled IoT device can transmit sensor data and status updates wirelessly leveraging energy harvesting techniques only. No batteries or wires required.

For short-range wireless IoT apps, SPARK UWB provides a high-throughput data pipe with sub-millisecond latency and minimal power consumption. It’s easy to envision how advanced technologies like AI-caliber processing and real-time, UWB wireless transmission could be paired to benefit the IoT in the future. 

Canada’s unique AI opportunity was likewise highlighted in this recent, excellent, three-part article from EE Times focused on the need for cultivating Canada’s chip industry talent. The author’s perspective, and the industry perspective shared within, is in close alignment with CSC’s viewpoint: As the global semiconductor market evolves, Canada is uniquely poised to play a growing leadership role. 

With a wealth of talent percolating through our universities and incubators, and a growing emphasis on mentorship, specially adapted curriculums, and university/industry collaboration, Canada can be more responsive to rapidly evolving technology trends and market demands. 

Through SPARK’s participation in the CSC, we hope to inspire continued investment in Canada’s greatest resource: its people. Per SPARK’s Fred Nabki, likewise featured in the EE Times three-part series (part 3):

“We have all the raw matter and brainpower we need to do as good a job as any country on this planet at becoming a powerhouse of semiconductors,” he said. “We have everything we need, but we need to be energized.”

The Canadian semiconductor opportunity is growing fast and the time to act is now. In conjunction with Canada’s Semiconductor Council, SPARK is working hard to energize this effort. 

For news and information about the CSC, visit canadassemiconductorcouncil.com