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Semiconductor Startup Expands in Lehigh Valley As It Nears Full Production of New Technology

By Nicole Radzievich Mertz on August 26, 2022

iDEAL Semiconductor  Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer David Jauregui explains the company’s breakthrough technology developed at Ben Franklin TechVentures in the Lehigh Valley (Photo/Ben Franklin Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania)

 

iDEAL Semiconductor, which is pioneering technology critical to the nation’s economic security, is adding 63 new jobs in the Lehigh Valley and undertaking a $3.4 million expansion project as it goes into full production later this year.

The five-year-old startup is acquiring an additional 15,000 square feet of office and lab space at Ben Franklin TechVentures in Bethlehem where it currently operates. With support of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth, iDEAL will use the new space for additional engineering and research and development for the product they say will be a game-changer in the global semiconductor market.

The company is developing a new proprietary, patented technology that provides breakthrough levels of power efficiency.  The technology enables longer life, greater efficiency and cooler operating temperature for electronic systems spanning many critical applications including electric vehicles, renewable energy, data center servers and more.

By creating more efficiency, the technology holds the promise of decreasing the demand for fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions.

Noting that the Lehigh Valley was home to the world’s first semiconductor production line at Western Electric, iDEAL Co-founder and CEO Mark Granahan said iDEAL’s expansion will mean region will once again play “an important role in showcasing the scientific and technological innovation possibilities for the state and country.”

Granahan said he looks forward to working with state officials to “aggressively pursue” funding from the newly CHIPS and Science Act, which provides billions of dollars for research and manufacturing of semiconductor chips in light of supply chain challenges brought to light during the pandemic. East Asia produces nearly 75% of the world’s supply of semi-conductor chips, and the CHIPS Act is designed to bringing production home, according to the White House.

Photo Courtesy of iDEAL Semiconductor

iDEAL is a fabless company, meaning it contracts foundries to make the technology it develops. The semiconductor wafers it designs are produced at U.S. foundries in California, Minnesota and New York. But the cutting and packaging of its wafers into parts that are shipped for use by electronics companies are done in Taiwan. Granahan’s hope is that the investment of the CHIPS Act will lure that part of the supply chain back to the United States.

“We’re so pleased to have iDEAL Semiconductor thriving and expanding here in the Lehigh Valley with the support of Ben Franklin and the Commonwealth,” said Don Cunningham, President and CEO of Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “Our region is home to a growing science and technology sector that is a central part of a diverse Lehigh Valley economy anchored by our more than 700 manufacturers developing everything from high-tech medical instruments to at-home COVID-tests to sophisticated semiconductors.”

iDEAL builds core components focused on power conversion – efficiently converting the raw electricity that comes out of the wall outlet into a form of electricity that processors and other electronic gadgets can use to operate. That conversion leads to energy loss – typically leading to efficiency levels of 60 to 70%. iDEAL’s technology aims to get efficiency levels of 80 to 90%.

“If this technology were adopted 100% around the globe, it would eliminate the need for 155 coal-fired power plants,” Granahan said. “It’s a pretty significant reduction in electrical requirements.”

iDEAL will be hiring people across various disciplines of engineering, physics, material sciences, marketing and business development. There is a need from wide-ranging skills from technicians to those with a bachelors and more. A dozen of the company’s current employees hold PhDs.

“iDEAL Semiconductor is addressing a crucial need in national technology independence while creating and retaining highly paid, sustainable technology jobs,” said Angelo J. Valletta, President and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. “We are delighted to have supported the firm from very early on with a financial investment and space in our TechVenture technology business incubator.”

In addition to the support from the Commonwealth and Ben Franklin, Granahan noted the resources of respected research schools nearby, specifically Lehigh University and Pennsylvania State University, helped in the development of the technology.

“Companies like iDEAL Semiconductor benefit from Pennsylvania’s strong workforce and ideal northeast location, while Pennsylvania benefits from the good-paying and stable jobs these companies provide,” said Neil Weaver, Acting Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development. “I look forward to seeing iDEAL Semiconductor’s continued growth.”

iDEAL received a funding proposal from DCED for a $1.4 million Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loan, a $338,000 Pennsylvania First grant. IDEAL is also encouraged to apply for the department’s Manufacturing Tax Credit and Research and Development Tax Credit programs.

This project was coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, an experienced group of economic development professionals who report directly to the governor and work with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania.

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