A Power Boost for Mobile Technologies

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Poised for launch

For Chaput, the road to a startup began before he came to Harvard. He had worked on power electronics projects at a semiconductor foundry in Bromont during his master’s studies. When he decided to pursue his doctorate in engineering, he found perfect synergy in Wei’s lab, which specializes in electronics and integrated circuits. Specifically, the lab’s work is aimed at implementing energy-efficient computer devices. Wei was leading a team looking at integrated circuit design and how to make devices more efficient across a wide range of applications.

In 2009, the lab embarked on its best-known project, the RoboBees. That brought together a variety of researchers in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science to develop micro-scale robots that would fly autonomously and cooperatively, like bees. When Chaput joined the group, Gu suggested he focus on creating circuitry that would generate 200- to 300-volt signals to drive piezoelectric actuators, powered by lithium polymer batteries that deliver only three to four volts.

Chaput designed a prototype and soon realized there was a commercial opportunity in his design. He connected with OTD, embraced resources from the Harvard Innovation Labs, and participated in the MassChallenge in 2016. He thought about launching Boréas in Boston, but after hitting obstacles in U.S. immigration, he returned to Canada instead. There, he was able to attract an experienced design team from his past contacts and secure low-cost space inside a state-of-the-art microelectronic R&D center.

“On average we have 20 years experience in the development of similar technologies,” Chaput said. “This is a good metric for our value proposition as well as our chance of success.”

“Technologically, it is rock solid,” said Wei, who also serves in a personal capacity on the Boréas advisory board. “He has assembled a good team and strong advisors on the business side. Other than me, everyone on the advisory board has experience on the entrepreneur side. All the chess pieces are in place.”


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