IDT acquires Longmont-based Synkera

LONGMONT — Silicon Valley semiconductor firm Integrated Device Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: IDTI) has acquired Longmont-based Synkera Technologies Inc., a maker of gas sensors used in a wide variety of markets and a client company of Fort Collins-based tech incubator Innosphere.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Former Synkera CEO Debra Deininger, who remains onboard as director of gas sensing for IDT, said her company is working on the integration process with IDT now, with Synkera’s technology and products soon to be under the IDT name.

Debra Deininger

Debra Deininger

Deininger said the fact that IDT was investing in growth of its own sensor business unit made for a logical match as Synkera tries to expand into new consumer markets with its technology.

Based in San Jose, Calif., IDT posted revenue of $192.1 million and net income of $20.9 million for its most recent fiscal quarter.

“We chose this route instead (of raising equity) because we also have access to ready-made” sales-and-distribution and supply-chain manufacturing infrastructure, Deininger said.

Founded in 2003 by Stephen Williams and Brian Sperry, Synkera has six employees in Longmont who remain with IDT. Deininger, who declined to disclose Synkera’s revenue, said the company’s chief financial officer and another employee left to pursue other opportunities. She said IDT will keep Synkera’s office in Longmont.

“I expect to actually grow the footprint here in Longmont,” Deininger said.

Synkera’s sensors detect chemicals in the air for measurement of indoor and outdoor air quality. Deininger said gas sensing has historically been done mainly at industrial levels, and much of Synkera’s own focus has been on the industrial safety market. But the firm made a pivot in January 2014 to shift toward what company officials saw as an emerging opportunity in gas sensing for consumer markets.

With people using their smartphones, wearables and other Internet of Things devices to track more and more aspects of their lives and health, Deininger said Synkera’s sensors could be used to help people do things such as make choices about ventilation in their homes or alter exercise habits to avoid poor air quality outdoors.

A Seattle startup is already using Synkera nanosensors for a device that measures acetone levels in users’ breath to monitor their bodies’ fat-burning state and aid in achieving weight-loss goals.

“It’s really just the beginning of being able to tell what’s going on with your body through a noninvasive measurement, which is breath,” said Deininger, noting that Synkera sensors will eventually be used to measure other gases in breath.

The pivot toward consumer markets led Synkera to join Innosphere in the middle of last year as it tried to gain traction in a whole new realm. Deininger said the company would have been graduating from Innosphere’s program about now had it not made an early exit due to the acquisition.

“That’s what led us to Innosphere, because we went from being a life-science company that was going after the industrial markets to … I think of us as a startup that is going after these new market opportunities,” Deininger said.

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