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Spark | Tens of millions to continue Bluetooth assault



Despite ongoing concerns about the economy and its effects on the availability of venture capital, a young Montreal semiconductor company seeking to compete with Bluetooth technology has just closed a financing valuing it at $120 million.

Spark, whose offices are located in the Griffintown district, is to announce on Monday the closing of a series B round allowing it to have access to nearly $50 million.

The operation is led by Idealist Capital, a Montreal investment firm focused on energy transition and clean technologies.

The funding comes less than three years after a Series A round that brought Spark $17.5 million.

Idealist Capital enters Spark’s share capital by injecting 24 million of the 34 million covered by the Series B financing transaction. Idealist Capital also offers a 10 million line of credit to Spark and is now the company’s largest shareholder. with a participation of approximately 20%.

This financing should allow Spark to return to profitability and help it generate its own cash flow.

Steeve Robitaille, co-managing partner at Idéaliste Capital

Existing shareholders are also participating in the financing, including Cycle Capital, Export Development Canada, Real Ventures, as well as the Californian venture capital firm ND Capital.

The money raised will be used to hire staff to develop the product and support sales.

fabless semiconductors

Founded seven years ago, Spark bills itself as a fabless semiconductor company pioneering ultra-low-power wireless communications for high-performance personal area networks and IoT-connected devices.

The company has 70 employees, mainly in Montreal and mostly engineers. Management aims to double its workforce within three years and achieve profitability in 2025.

Spark, whose revenues remain modest (barely 5 million so far), designs integrated circuits and chip software.

Simply put, Spark’s Chief Technology Officer, Frederic Nabki, argues that chips equipped with Spark’s technology can be called “Bluetooth on steroids”.

“Our goal is to go further than what Bluetooth allows in terms of communication speed and energy consumption,” he says.

Spark’s technology makes it possible to transmit data at very low energy, says Frédéric Nabki.

He specifies that it allows a data rate almost 10 times higher than Bluetooth, which allows access to hi-fi audio, video, etc.


Spark CEO Fares Mubarak and Co-Founder and CTO Frederic Nabki

Frédéric Nabki adds that the communication delay is brought to an imperceptible level. “More than 10 times shorter. It brings instant data communication. »

He argues that the product is not cost prohibitive compared to Bluetooth. “So we can be deployed in mass electronics without any problem,” he says.

“Given the current wireless communications around the planet, if you can reduce power consumption by a factor of 10 with your headphones, computer mouse, car key, etc., it can have an impact, and that’s not counting the reduction of lithium battery waste, which is a scourge,” says Frédéric Nabki.

Spark is currently trying to seduce the biggest manufacturers with its technology.

The objective is to deploy it in cell phones. “Our goal within a few years, if all goes well, is to be in smart phones. And there, of course, we would be omnipresent. We could then talk about the new generation of wireless technology that will perhaps outclass Bluetooth one day,” says Frédéric Nabki.

While Spark still has no products on the market, customers have started to use its technology for their production, says CEO Fares Mubarak, who prefers not to name these manufacturers until they have not showcase their products. “That will come later this year,” he says.


Fares Mubarak and Frédéric Nabki during the remote interview granted to The Press

Spark depends on Asia for the production of its chips. They are manufactured by TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), which is also the only manufacturer of the semiconductors used in Apple devices.

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