Officials at 12-year-old Durham semiconductor startup Nitronex say they finally see a light at the end of the tunnel and expect the company to post its first profit next year and increase staff size.
It would be a long-overdue turnaround for Nitronex, which moved its office from Raleigh to Durham in 2008 in exchange for $100,000 in city incentives and promises to hire 200 people.
Nitronex currently employs about 55 people, after laying off a dozen workers during the recession. The company, which makes semiconductors that transmit radio signals, expects to grow to 75-100 employees in the next several years.
CEO Charles Shalvoy, describing the technology company at his office Wednesday, said sales revenue from military products and research contracts has been solid for the past several years.
Expected expansions in cable television and 4G wireless communications for smart phones will put Nitronex in the black, he said.
"We're forecasting growth in the next three years at a rate of 50 percent a year," Shalvoy said.
Nitronex was spun off in 1999 from N.C. State University's Material Sciences Laboratory, the same lab that spun off Durham-based lighting maker Cree, which is now one of Nitronex's competitors in the semiconductor field.
Nitronex components are used in military field radios and in electronic warfare jammers to disable roadside bombs.
Nitronex has raised more than $50 million in three rounds of venture capital, led by Intersouth Parters in Durahm. The company has also received about $10 million in federal grants and about $10 million in research contracts.
"Companies like ours live or breathe on private investment," Shalvoy said. "It's high risk, high reward."