The semiconductor industry is reinventing itself, according to longtime Ottawa entrepreneur Adam Chowaniec.
© File photo
Ottawa serial entrepreneur Adam Chowaniec.
By Jacob Serebrin
With large firms acquiring many of the smaller companies in the sector, small firms have to become specialized and innovative, he said.
“The challenge we’ve got is that the semiconductor industry is relatively mature, so you have to find application niches,” said Mr. Chowaniec. “Because you can’t compete with the big guys.”
Mr. Chowaniec has a long history in the high tech industry. He’s been a university professor, worked in engineering management at Nortel and was the founding CEO of Tundra Semiconductor Corporation. He’s also the founding chairman of Startup Canada, a nationwide nonprofit that supports entrepreneurship.
On Oct. 16, Mr. Chowaniec will be participating in the CMC Microsystems annual symposium in Ottawa, where he’ll be moderating a panel discussion on startups and growth.
He said it’s a chance to see where companies have found niches.
“That’s what’s really interesting for me, to see where people are innovating,” Mr. Chowaniec said. “It’s good to compare notes to see where they’re finding opportunities.”
Mr. Chowaniec currently sits on the board of Solantro Semiconductor and POET Technologies, a company that is developing computer chips that are made from gallium arsenide, rather than silicon. This allows for faster components, he said.
“It’s used for niche applications,” he said, including microwaves and powered amplifiers. “No one’s trying to explore it for mainstream digital design and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The CMC Microsystems event is scheduled for Oct. 15 and 16 and is taking place in conjunction with the Information Technology Association of Canada’s National Executive Forum.
“It’s really a big networking event. There’s an opportunity to share best practices and share information,” said Mr. Chowaniec. “In Canada the industry is so small we’re not really in competition with each other.”