DOMESTIC AND NATIONAL MICROCHIP DESIGN
ElectraIC engages in design and verification of digital chips used in air, land and sea defense vehicles. It is the only company to provide certified training services to defense contractors. Collaborating with giants such as TÜBİTAK (Scientific and Technological Research Council), Aselsan (Military Electronic Industry), Havelsan (Aviation Electronics Industry), Roketsan (Rocket Industry), STM (Defense Industries Engineering) and TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries), the company is an active player in embedded systems, consumer electronics, automotive, and mobile communication.
Steps taken by two young engineers, who left Ericsson in 2014 and decided to stay in the country and produce domestic technology rather than becoming a part of the brain drain, has given Turkey the capability to produce digital chip designs and solutions employing domestic engineering. Starting up in Teknopark Istanbul Incubation Center, ElectraIC is now one of few companies that offer chip designs and solutions, which are used in avionic (aerial vehicle) systems and land and sea vehicles, employing domestic engineering. It is also the only firm offering training to defense industry in this field with an extensive training portfolio covering over 150 training topics.
ElectraIC is preparing various projects in collaboration with the giants of the defense industry. The company is working on wireless network projects such as consumer electronics, automotive and GPS.
GLOBAL CORPORATE EXPERIENCE
Ateş Berna, one of the founders of ElectraIC, answered questions of Istanbul Commerce. Berna received his bachelor and master degrees in Istanbul Technical University (ITU), Electronics and Communication Engineering Department. He completed the Executive MBA (Business Administration) program in Boğaziçi University. He worked in the semi-conductor sector in global companies like Alcatel, STMicroelectronics, ST-Ericsson, and Ericsson.
ENCOURAGED BY CLIENTS
How did you decide to build your own company as two young engineers?
We founded ElectraIC with İsmail Hakkı Topcu, my Electronics and Communication Engineer colleague from Ericsson. In 2014, Ericsson decided to shut down its microelectronic division, where we designed digital chips. There were some offers for overseas jobs. However, valued managers of the clients, with whom we used to work together back when we were in Ericsson, particularly Aselsan, suggested that we build our own company rather than move overseas. We took their valued advice and founded ElectraIC enthusiastically as a bold move. We stayed in Turkey rather than moving abroad and got the chance to serve our country. We also became the first R&D Company to graduate from Teknopark Istanbul Incubation Center.
DIGITAL CHIP DESIGN
What does ElectraIC do?
Our first job was the two projects, on which we worked jointly with Aselsan. We evolved into a company focused on aviation and defense while working on Aselsan’s projects on avionic systems. We are also actively involved in wireless network projects such as consumer electronics, automotive, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. We produce digital chip designs and solutions. In other words, we design blank slate chips (FPGA).
HARDWARE NOT SOFTWARE
Is chip design software?
Contrary to common misconception, it is not software. I can cite designs of chips performing certain functions such as Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi as examples. We build the design of what the chip will do, in other words, we develop hardware.
BOUTIQUE CHIP DESIGN
Do you custom design chips for a particular need?
Yes... We offer boutique manufacture for a particular need. That is why we are strong in the defense industry. It is very important for the national companies to be able to perform critical, special production themselves. This puts our country into a much stronger position and new products further develop our defense industry. Defense industry needs are exclusive and unique to the country. We cannot be independent with products produced by another country. This is why it is very important and worthy to perform our own manufacture. This is how we can show how strong we are at the bargaining table.
CHIP PRODUCTION IN MALESIA
Will Turkey able to manufacture chips?
We are pushing the national chip manufacturing channels. We have a joint project with a company from Malaysia. We will start manufacturing chips together. Chip design is the core of this job. When hardware and software are combined, we are technologically independent. Obviously, you will need the hardware to run your software on. We are working for the days, when we will no longer purchase that hardware from abroad.
WE WILL BE THE CHOICE OF THE WORLD
Do you have connections abroad?
We presented our first project to TÜBİTAK in 2016, which was our first experience in avionics. We gained the capability to develop Avionic Electronic Hardware according to DO-254 certification procedures. With this experience, we’ve succeeded in offering advisory services to a US company based in Germany on DO-254 certification. Chip design is a niche sector and you have to be very good at what you are doing. Even a company from Germany, a country known for producing technology, wants to work with us. Step by step, we are moving towards our goal of “being a global company.”
Special force training for engineers
Berna said, “As ElectraIC, we have a two month trial period for the new graduate engineers. Young engineers with a digital design background start this program and, as the program advances, we have a better glance of how well they will do. We assign them for our high technology projects. They actually apply what they have learned from the project. We call this ‘special force training on digital chip design’.”
Technopark companies are like our business partners
We opened the second ElectraIC office at Hacettepe Teknokent in Ankara, as we want to work more closely with defense and aviation sectors. Teknoparks allow us to be closer to other technology companies. We collaborate. For example, Teknokent companies support us when we have a client that wants a card design. This is a great advantage. You come to hire the company next door. This lays the foundation for mutual trust. Moreover, we are exempt from income and corporate income taxes at Teknopark.
Europe’s TÜBİTAK chose us
As a Turkish company, we are proud to offer digital chip designs and design solutions as a global payer. It is very important and valuable for us to be preferred by a US company in Germany or IMEC from Belgium. Because IMEC is known as TÜBİTAK of Europe. We are working with IMEC on our microchip design project.
We provide training to defense contractors
Berna continued, “When our clients requested training on digital chip design and embedded systems from ElectraIC in 2015, we collaborated with a German firm, from whom we had received training earlier. We have been so successful that a significant portion of our turnover now comes from training services. This success has entitled us to become one of 5 certified business partners worldwide of Doulos, a global English company. At this point, Doulos wants to work with ElectraIC for its trainings in the Middle East and Europe. We also work on training with all the defense industry companies as well. All of our trainings in Turkish and foreign languages are certified.”
ITO Gazette - Interview by Soysal Aksel Alpaslan