Business

Durham’s Phononic opens office in Taiwan as part of Asia push

Phononic Chief Executive Officer Tony Atti helped the Durham-based company raise more than $70 million last year, which the company plans to use to boost employment and its Asia presence.
Phononic Chief Executive Officer Tony Atti helped the Durham-based company raise more than $70 million last year, which the company plans to use to boost employment and its Asia presence. The Herald-Sun

Refrigeration technology company Phononic Inc. has expanded its Asia-Pacific presence with a new office in Taiwan and a partnership with a Chinese semiconductor distributor.

The Durham-headquartered company has long identified Asia as a key market for its technology moving forward, and the announced office and partnership represents another step toward that market.

“Taiwan and mainland China are two of the largest untapped markets for our innovative technology and products,” Phononic Chief Executive Officer Tony Atti said in an email. “As we revolutionize cooling and heating, having a local presence in Asia to support customers and manufacturing in the region is imperative to our business.”

Phononic was started in 2009 by a group of venture capitalists that licensed promising semiconductor technology from the University of Oklahoma and the California Institute of Technology. The company is based on the idea that it can disrupt the heating and cooling industry through semiconductor technology, similarly to the way the lighting industry was changed by the use of semiconductors.

The company raised the most money of any startup in North Carolina last year, bringing in $71 million across two separate rounds of funding. Atti has said the company has global ambitions for its capital and has long identified China as a critical market — several of its investors are based in China, as well.

One of the company’s major partners and customers in the refrigeration and electronics business is the Chinese firm Haier, which bought General Electric Appliances last year. The company has already put into a production a line of refrigerators using Phononic technology.

Atti said the company chose to place its office in Taiwan because of its role as a global electronics hub with a significant population of computer manufacturers and design companies. Phononic hired Gene Lin to serve as the country manager for Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific region.

Lin is one of a string of hires the company has made in customer-facing positions this year. The technology company has added 10 new staff members in sales, business development and technical application support roles. It added that it would be filling more positions in the first half of the year.

Phononic will also be partnering with the Shenzhen, China-based distributor Photonteck.

“Photonteck will be an extension of our sales and market team,” Atti wrote. “They have significant expertise in fiber-optical communication, industrial laser and optics and semiconductors. Photonteck has local employees in every major electronics market in China and gives us immediate access to strategic fiber optic customers that will allow us to continue the accelerated growth of our Electronics Cooling Business.”

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes

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