SDTC invests $2.2 million in SPARK Microsystems’ energy-efficient microchip

Canadians could soon be using their smartphones for much longer without draining the battery thanks to a new ultra-low power microchip.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) has invested $2.2 million in SPARK Microsystems to develop its mobile device technology. The energy-efficient chip has the potential to reduce the power consumption of devices connected to the Internet of Things as well as the amount of waste created during battery production.

The investment was announced by Marc Miller, Member of Parliament for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Îles-des-Sœurs, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

“Our government’s investments in clean technology reflect our commitment to protecting the planet. But they also point to a clear and strategic direction for economic development through innovation. That’s because innovations in clean tech will lead to products and services that have an impact on all sectors of the economy. And clean tech has the potential to create thousands of well-paying jobs for Canadians. That’s how innovation leads to a better Canada,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“Anyone who has watched the battery life drain from their cellphone just when they need it most will want to keep their eyes on SPARK Microsystems’ innovation. This ultra-low-power transceiver chip will reduce power consumption, battery waste and inputs to the manufacturing process while improving battery life across a wide range of devices. SDTC is proud to support this game-changing clean technology,” said Leah Lawrence, President and CEO, Sustainable Development Technology Canada

“SPARK microsystems is a spinout from a university, and we started the co-creation in April last year,” Frederic Nabki, CEO of SPARK told MTLinTECH. “We were looking at potential ways to fund the company and we saw that SDTC has a tech fund, which funds technology that can make an environmental impact. So we started the process of applying in October. And our goal really was to get funding to bring the technology to market because it was already demonstrated as a prototype. When we pitched it to them, their interest was in just how many batteries could be saved in the world, because the less batteries you have to change and throw out, the better it is for the environment.”

The team at SPARK actually estimated how many batteries the technology could save globally over the span of the year. Their conclusion? Two Olympic swimming pools filled with AA batteries. That’s a pretty big environmental impact.

The funding will allow the team to design, build and test their ultra-low power microchip with the goal of bringing it to market within two years.

“It’s really expensive with regards to all the tools, the computer-aided design tools, all the actual fabrication work we have to do. This is all done in Taiwan, and the micro-fabrication facilities that we use are very expensive. So this is going to help us bring the prototype to a level of maturity where we feel comfortable that it can meet the specs of our customers and also have the right amount of robustness before we go and engage in these large expenditures to make it mass produced. We’re going to refine the design, we’re going to be able to hire more engineers to go faster so that we can release this within two years timeframe. So it’s really a maturation, to mature the prototype we have, and a preparation for mass production.”

Longer battery life and positive environmental impact? That’s something everybody can get behind.


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