Ottawa: North America’s Leading Compound Semiconductor Centre

From the very start of every day, our modern lives are impacted by semiconductors.

By the time we start the car or hop on the train to work, we have already interacted with devices containing hundreds of these colloquially named Chips. From our cellphones to Starlink, to the Garmin devices we use to call for help and navigate the Canadian backcountry, our lives are dependent on this critical technology.

And because of this, the sector is booming like never before.

On January 9th of this year, The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced global semiconductor industry sales totalling $48.0 billion during the month of November 2023 – an increase of 5.3% compared to the November 2022 total sales ($45.6 billion) and 2.9% higher than the October 2023 sales ($46.6 billion). And according to Fortune Business Insights, the semiconductor industry is projected to grow to 1.38 trillion USD in 2029.

Ottawa, one of the world’s top technology hubs, has been capitalizing on this rapidly growing semiconductor industry for decades.

Here we explore the different strengths of the regional semiconductor ecosystem in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, one of the most important globally.  We’ll give you two words – compound semiconductor.


     Boasts the highest tech talent concentration (13.3%) among  North American Cities. Home to 65 federal research labs, including National Research Council
Research and Development headquarters of Ciena Home to 90% of Canada’s

industrial telecom R&D

Headquarters of Sanmina’s Advanced Microsystems Technologies Division Home to the CPFC – a pure play compound semiconductor foundry specializing III-IV semiconductors



Ottawa’s Semiconductor Landscape

For over 50 years Ottawa has been home to a robust semiconductor ecosystem.

The region’s rich history in the sector has provided it with an integrated III-IV supply chain, from chip design through to foundry, to prototyping, package design, and testing.  The Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre, our pure play compound semiconductor foundry, like many of our regional players, traces its lineage back to Nortel Networks.

The talent, infrastructure, federal, and university apparatus that was created around Nortel continues to exist to this day, supporting a host of players from around the world.

Industry leaders in III-IV’s and photonics, including Ciena, Nokia, Infinera, Lumentum, CISCO, RANOVUS, Marvell, Alphawave, and Infineon (GaN), are just a few of the world-class players doing research and development in semiconductor technology in Ottawa.

Not to be missed are Microchip Technologies, TSMC’s only Canadian design centre, and of course given Ottawa’s strength in 5G, Skyworks.


Semiconductor Research Labs & Organizations

A photo of the University of Ottawa's Centre for Extreme and Quantum Photonics

The Canadian Photonic Fabrication Centre (CPFC), operated by the National Research Council Canada (NRC), is a III-V fab producing semiconductor for optical applications. The facility has been a resounding success and is in the process of going through a 400% expansion.

The organization is also the only pure-play compound semiconductor foundry in North America and is also the lead organization in Canada’s quantum strategy. Over the last 10 years, NRC quantum researchers have outpublished every other research organization in Canada.

This expertise is complimented by impressive academic research, and talent development at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, and Algonquin College.

At the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Research in Photonics and the Max Plank uOttawa Centre for Extreme and Quantum Photonics, cutting-edge photonic and semiconductor research takes place in conjunction with key industry players, including Ciena, Nokia, Ranovus, Marvell, and many others.


Major Players in Ottawa’s Semiconductor Industry


NXP Semiconductor: Ottawa is proud to be home to the automotive semiconductor design group at NXP. The team here does world-leading research for the company and works with them to keep the company ahead of the curve, and its competitors just down the road.

TSMC: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited is one of the biggest and most advanced manufacturers of semiconductors on the planet, and they do their leading-edge research for their latest process and clients right here in Ottawa. Their highly specialized design centre is home to a team of world-class IP generating researchers who play a critical role in keeping TSMC and its clients ahead of the competition.

Infineon: Just down the road is the home of Infineon’s GaN systems. This group within the company was an acquisition, and they are the leaders in the development of GaN IP for power electronics. Ottawa was thrilled to welcome Infineon to our ecosystem and are excited for them to further leverage our strong compound semiconductor ecosystem to grow their business.

Synopsys: The company is at the forefront of Smart Everything with the world’s most advanced technologies for chip design, verification, IP integration, and software security and quality testing. We help our customers innovate from silicon to software so they can bring Smart Everything to life.

A team picture for Ciena taken in front of the company's Ottawa location.

Infinera: Infinera in Ottawa is focused on optical telecommunications, and they’re a leader in the space. The company has grown its talent pool by accessing our top-notch universities and developing an internship program to develop talent for their continued growth in the region.

Ciena: Ottawa is home to the research and development headquarters of Ciena, this shiny new campus located on Innovation Drive, has over 100,000 square feet of labs focused on keeping Ciena a leader in high end optical technology.

Sanmina: Ottawa is the headquarters of Sanmina’s Advanced Microsystems Technologies Group. The organization has developed a specialized expertise in the prototyping of and designing the manufacturing processes for complex optical packages for the majority of the key semiconductor players in the Ottawa region.

Jabil: One of the largest contract manufacturers in the world, Jabil has built a strong presence in Ottawa in the optical technology space.

Ranovus: Quantum lasers. If that doesn’t sound high tech, then we don’t know what does. Spun out of the National Research Council, and using InPh, the company has developed quantum dot lasers and is on a rapid scale receiving funding from the federal government to grow its stable of solutions.

Marvell: One of the leading fabless players in the semiconductor industry today, Marvell has invested heavily in Ottawa. Further they’ve invested in training new graduates and teaching them to work on big projects. The group in Ottawa has strengths in ASIC and Optics, and plays a key role in the region’s talent development ecosystem.


Why Ottawa?

Ottawa has a strong advantage as a location for starting or expanding a semiconductor company.

In the compound semiconductor domain, it is one of the most complete ecosystems in North America from a supply chain perspective. Not only does the city have a wide range of facilities and a supportive ecosystem to establish a semiconductor business, but it also boasts a significant talent base from the likes of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University that produce world-class talent in engineering, computer science, and other pertinent fields.

From a lifestyle point of view, Ottawa is a dynamic and innovative city surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty that offers an unparalleled quality of life.

Home to over 1 million residents, Ottawa is the 5th largest metro area in Canada. Ottawa is also a popular destination for immigrants because of the quality of living, affordable lifestyle, inclusiveness, and tons of fun experiences throughout the year.


An outdoor picture of the front of the Bayview Yards building.

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