The Big Read

As Alphawave seeks talent and investment in the U.K., some rue a missed opportunity for Canada

MONTREAL — Alphawave IP scaled quickly and quietly. Founded in Toronto in 2017, the chip company attracted relatively little press as it grew—until late last month, when it announced it was moving its headquarters to the U.K. and seeking a US$4.5-billion listing on the London Stock Exchange.

“In this industry, you can’t just scale in one site,” Alphawave CEO Tony Pialis said in an interview with The Logic last week. “It certainly doesn’t mean that we’ll be moving our people or not continuing to grow where we are today. That’s absolutely not the case. I need more engineers than I can practically find, so we plan to scale, and scale globally.”

The company hopes to tap into a pool of investors with a deep history in the semiconductor sector, and capitalize on the wealth of chip-design talent in the U.K.—which has produced industry giants Arm and Imagination Technologies—by opening a research and development centre with dozens of employees in Cambridge as part of the expansion.

If Alphawave is a success story for Canada’s tech sector, it’s a complicated one. While the company’s leadership says it remains committed to its Canadian operations—home to the majority of its more than 100 current engineers—the relocation of a multibillion-dollar tech firm to the U.K. adds some weight to critics’ arguments that the federal government could be doing more to ensure Canada’s economy is competitive on the world stage.

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