A new sales and marketing firm is set to put the little semiconductor guys in touch with the big semiconductor guys.

Voyageur Technical Sales set up shop in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal last month, with locations to come in Boston, San Jose and Austin. The company is billing itself as a “chipless distributor” — it supplies sales, marketing and legal expertise to intellectual property (IP) firms in the semiconductor business.

“IP vendors create semiconductor IP that perform specific functions that can be implemented in hardware in a chip. They write the code for that,” explains Voyageur vice-president of marketing Marcia Cunningham. Their aim is to market this IP to semiconductor OEMs, where it can then be incorporated into the manufactured chips. But to do this IP suppliers need contacts in the industry and marketing expertise.

Voyageur provides demand creation, market research, sales and IP and licensing legal council. The firm’s president, Rob Cook, has spent 15 years in the semiconductor business and has done sales and marketing for Insight Electronics and LSI Logic.

Voyageur estimates that there are 175 IP companies globally. The IP industry is still kind of a wild frontier, according to Cunningham. OEMs don’t always know how to reach these companies. There are legal complications and no assurances of quality when dealing with them, says Cunningham. Conversely, IP companies don’t necessarily possess the budgets to do their own sales and marketing. Many of them simply set up a Web site in the hopes they’ll be discovered, or sometimes try to find business on an IP B2B exchange, says Cunningham. Voyageur is currently in discussions with about half a dozen IP vendors to put them in touch with OEMs and has profiled 700 semiconductor companies.

According to Mercury Research analyst Dean McCarron, there hasn’t been this kind of dedicated IP service before. “Usually it’s been an outgrowth of an ASIC foundry, for example, where they will put a customer in contact with an IP supplier,” he said.

Both OEMs and IP vendors may benefit from the new arrangement, he added. IP vendors tend to be relatively small companies without the resources to tap into the large semiconductor market; OEMs will gain an easier way to reach IP vendors.

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