Tim Haynes, CEO and founder, Nujira
Backgrounder: Nujira is the leading supplier of ultra-high efficiency RF power amplifier technology. The company's High Accuracy Tracking (HAT) Modulators for 3G, evolved 3G, DVB and WiMAX power amplifiers enable wireless infrastructure manufacturers to design more power-efficient, smaller, and cheaper base stations to meet the increasingly demanding needs of operators and broadcasters worldwide.
The company was founded in 2002 by ex-Symbionics engineers with a history of high profile equipment designs for leading wireless infrastructure manufacturers. It recently secured $9.8m in Series B funding, and is actively expanding it's engineering and business development activities at it's headquarters at Cambourne Business Park, Cambridge.
Nujira founder and chief executive officer, Tim Haynes, brings more than 15 years of senior business and management experience to Nujira, prior to which he was UK operations director at Symbionics/Tality, where he had management and operations responsibility for engineering staff within the Wireless & Multimedia Division at the company's Cambridge, England, and Livingston, Scotland, Design Centres.
During his 10-year tenure at Symbionics, Tim successfully founded and grew the Cellular Business Group, securing major Blue-Chip clients and multiple multi-million dollar contracts. Tim holds a first class honours degree in electrical & electronic engineering. 1) Nujira is five years old. How has the company's progress matched initial targets? We started Nujira in 2002 with the intention of solving a growing problem in the telecommunications industry - increasing electricity costs caused by the poor energy efficiency of 3G base stations.
We had a lot of experience in the design of wireless base stations from our time at Symbionics, and had some good ideas on how to approach the problem, but I guess it's true to say that at that time we didn't have any fixed ideas on where those ideas would take us, apart from knowing this was a good business opportunity. 2) How have the extra demands placed on infrastructure through the huge advances made in wireless and mobile technology over the last few years affected Nujira's technology offering? The new broadband wireless systems such as 3G (WCDMA) and WiMAX achieve their performance through the use of complex multi-level modulation, which requires the use of very linear RF power amplifiers (PAs).
Although these are very efficient when transmitting peak powers, for the majority of the time the average power being transmitted is much lower than this, and the linear PAs are then very power-inefficient.
The end result of this is that cellular base stations consume a lot of power, and dissipate a lot of heat, often needing cooling fans and even air conditioning systems to keep equipment temperatures in check. The rising cost of energy is now making these problems increasingly unacceptable for network operators, so Nujira's solution is very timely. 3) What kind of effect has this had on company strategy? Are you finding an extra need to diversify into new markets for example? Although 3G/WCDMA and WiMAX base stations are our key focus at the moment, we are also tracking developments in the mobile TV space, since the networks that will be deployed to provide these services will also use transmitters that could benefit from Nujira's technology.
We know from our discussions with the broadcasters that power consumption is a big issue with them, as well. In addition to this, there are a number of other business areas that could benefit from the use of Nujira's technology, for example satellite communications, but our immediate focus is on delivering to customers in the cellular infrastructure market since this provides the best and most immediate return on our investment. 4) You've recently undertaken your largest funding round to date. Will there be a need for any more before you reach profitability; if so when and how much? It's possible we may need another funding round in due course but we are currently well funded, have active engagements with several major players in the infrastructure OEM space, and expect a significant increase in revenue this year - so this may not be necessary. 5) Is a trade sale or an AIM-listing the inevitable climax for a niche hi-tech company like Nujira? Nujira's technology has a broad application, and provides our customers with a significant performance advantage, and so we may be attractive to a major telecommunication industry player - but an AIM listing is also a possibility - we don't have any pre-conceived ideas in this respect. 6) What is left to be done before HAT hits the market and how important is Nujira's High Accuracy Tracking (HAT) to the future of the company? The HAT technology is absolutely central to Nujira's efforts. Our key advantage over our competitors is that we have spent five years developing and honing this (very complicated) technology - although the basic principles of the technique can be understood quite readily, a practical implementation requires considerable engineering effort.
The body of knowledge we have built up on how to make a practical (modulator) device, and integrate this into a production PA, is very difficult to replicate.
We are sampling pre-production devices now, and these are being trialled in the development labs of several major infrastructure manufacturers who are looking to integrate the HAT modulators into the next generation of 3G and WiMAX base stations. We expect to ship production modulators in volume in Q4 of this year. 7) You have said that Nujira's technology is being evaluated by major infrastructure manufacturers; what exactly are they looking at in terms of technology and potential uptake? Because of the problems caused by the high power consumption of 'today's technology' all the major infrastructure manufacturers are looking for ways to increase power consumption and reduce the size, weight and cost of their base stations, not only to remain competitive but also meet the needs of their customers - the network operators, who are becoming increasingly demanding. So Nujira's technology is available at just the right time, and we expect to see it deployed both in 3G and WiMAX networks from 2008 onwards. 8) With advances in HAT, commercial roll-out imminent, a new CFO and new money, Nujira appears to be entering a crucial moment in its development; it must be make or break time. What can we expect from Nujira over the next 18 months? You're right, this is certainly a busy time at the moment! - the technology and company are now ready for prime-time. 9) You've been at Nujira since the beginning. What have the been the most unexpected challenges? I guess it's true that there haven't been many unexpected challenges - just the same problems all start-ups face in getting funding, finding customers, finding the best people and commercialising the technology. 10) What are your medium and long-term goals for Nujira? The medium-term goal is clearly to support our current customers and enable them to get to market as quickly as possible with new base stations using our technology, and of course to move to profitability. Longer term we plan to expand the range of HAT modulators we produce to support both higher-power PAs (such as those used for terrestrial digital broadcasting), and also investigate more highly integrated, lower cost solutions for lower power PAs.