In a world that it demanding every-increasing battery life and thinner, lighter mobile devices, Durham startup Sarda Technologies believes it has an answer for both.

The result is a fast-growing company that is raising a $3 million round of venture capital just over a year after launch.

IDEA Fund Partners said Monday it was investing an undisclosed amount of money in Sarda. The investment follows a $36,000 non-dilutive cash grant awarded to Sarda by NC IDEA, the economic development and not-for-profit arm of IDEA Fund Partners.

Founded last year by Silicon Valley and Triangle semiconductor industry veterans Bob Conner and Jim Vorhaus, Sarda is seeking four patents to cover technology that enables semiconductors to be much more energy efficient and to make power components much thinner, smaller and lighter.

Sarda’s target is the rapidly growing power convertor market, which according to a research group’s report is expected to grow to $4.3 billion and 32 billion units by 2016. Some 20 billion units were produced in 2011.

Sarda also has secured support from TriQuint Semiconductor (Nasdaq: TQNT). By providing its foundry production services to Sarda, the Durham firm remains “fabless” – i.e. using another party for production rather than have to invest in chip and component manufacturing capability.

“I can’t go into details other than this is a $3 million round and this is the first close,” Conner, who is the firm’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “We’re still looking for other investors.”

Vorhaus, the chief technology officer, and Conner have worked for both large and startup semiconductor firms in Silicon Valley and RTP. Their California connections helped them secure a convertible note from a Silicon Valley angel investor last July. That note and the NC IDEA fund grant provided cash for the company until the first VC close.

Now Sarda – which Conner said is named after Vorhaus’ two children, Sarah and David – moves to the next stage: Having designed prototypes, the two men who as of today are the company’s only employees will move to design and beta testing in conjunction with customers.

The company plans to grow to as many as “a dozen” people and begin production within a year, Conner added.

Sarda’s “secret sauce” is the power and size savings enabled by its technology.

“There is absolutely a lot of interest in what we are doing,” Conner said. “Power management and voltage convertors and systems are inefficient with about 15 percent of the power just thrown away. These also consume a lot of work space and height.

“With all the applications that are being developed, people want extended battery life and smaller, thinner devices. About 40 percent of the [device] board area is covered with power components.

“With our technology, we can dramatically decrease the size and increase the efficiency.”

Triquint’s James Klein, who is general manager for defense products and foundry services, praised Sarda’s technology. “Sarda is developing an impressive family of power semiconductors for high-volume applications,” he said in a statement.

As part of the deal, John Cambier of IDEA Fund Partners joins the Sarda board. He has been serving as an advisor to the company.

“We have gotten to know Bob and Jim better throughout the NC IDEA grant process and have been very impressed by their technology and progress to date,” Cambier said. “We are happy to now have them in our venture portfolio and look forward to working alongside the team as they bring to market a truly disruptive technology.”

The Sarda investment is the fifth that IDEA Fund Partners has made in a recipient of an NC IDEA grant. Others were Oncoscope, NextRay, Automated Insights (formerly StatSheet) and Argyle Social.

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