Novarra, a fast-growing developer of software to run applications on mobile devices, is preparing to open an office in the Triangle and will hire as many as 50 developers and engineers.

The firm, which is based in a Chicago suburb, will host a job fair on June 11-12 and plans to launch its RTP operation by the end of the month, Novarra Chief Financial Officer Chuck Medhurst told WRAL Local Tech Wire.

“We are ready to sign a lease, and hopefully we will be starting in a couple of weeks,” Medhurst said. “We want to have 10 to 20 people ready to go,” he added.

The company is privately held and venture capital financed, having raised “north of $50 million,” Medhurst said. An eight-year-old firm, it employs some 140 people, most of whom are based in Illinois. Novarra also has offices in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy and Thailand.

Its slogan captures the company’s mission: “Powering the mobile generation.” Partners include Yahoo, Sprint, Palm, Alltel and Qualcomm.

Executives looked at several areas before picking the Triangle, according to Medhurst. Among the reasons is the virtual shutdown of Motricity’s operation in Durham and the laying off of some 250 people, Medhurst added. Motricity focuses on mobile content applications and is moving most of its operations to Bellevue, Wash.

The Motricity layoffs drew the attention of Novarra executives as they scouted potential office locations, Medhurst explained.

“We feel Motricity had the right type of people we wanted to hire, we knew the company was shrinking rapidly, so why look at this area,” he added. “We feel like we will be up to 50 by the end of the third quarter. We’d like to do it faster if we could.

Novarra put on a job fair two weeks ago, and the response was strong, Medhurst added.

“We met some real good prospective employees,” he said. “We feel there will be no shortage of people to staff the office based on what we have seen.”

Other factors behind the decision included quality of life and access to the talent pool of graduates from universities in the area, Medhurst added.

Novarra is growing rapidly, is break even in revenues, and looks to go public in 2009, according to Medhurst.

“Roughly, we are trying to double the size company over next year,” he said.

Navarro works with a wide variety of content providers, such as Yahoo, and service providers, such as Sprint and Alltel, on a global basis. In addition to working with enterprise users to support access to applications such as business intelligence, Navarro has developed software to help mobile users get access to full Web site offerings, including photos and graphics.

The firm has developed proprietary technology for data compression that “helps operators because data isn’t clogging their pipes and then transform content for users to have a desktop experience,” Medhurst explained.

Navarro also has developed its own Web browser written on open source to make its products usable on more devices, he added.

Perhaps most importantly, the company is working to develop ad insertion technology that will enable service providers to insert a targeted advertisement onto a mobile device’s screen that is sits outside a Web site.

“This is the next frontier in mobile phones,” Medhurst said. “Users will still get the same desktop experience. The operators reserve a small amount of space at the top or bottom of the screen to insert an ad, such as a Nike Tiger Woods golf ad if you go to a sports site.

“This will be a big revenue generator,” he added. “We’re not sure where this is going in the future, but there has been talk about how this new revenue stream could subsidize consumers’ bills. They could opt in to the program in exchange for a lower monthly fee.”

(For job fair information, contact Sherry Vanicek 224-622-1782.)