In today’s fast-paced world, data is king. And one Tucson-based startup is working to ensure it stays error-free.

Codelucida, a spring 2017 Arizona Innovation Challenge awardee, commercializes error-correction technology for data storage and communications systems. The company uses proprietary algorithms to ensure data is reliably stored.

While Codelucida’s primary applications involve the semiconductor industry – one of Arizona’s most robust industries – the company’s core business enables any device that stores data, like smartphones, computers, data centers, and communications networks, to use its technology.

Codelucida CEO Dr. Shiva Planjery notes that trillions of bytes of data are created every day, driven largely by factors like the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning. That data is vulnerable to errors, which are inherently introduced through simple physics and the process of communicating. (Think of a dropped call, for example.)

Error correction technology is already widely used to ensure data is stored reliably, whether in the cloud or elsewhere – but Codelucida focuses specifically on flash memory, which is used in USB sticks, smartphones, and the solid-state drives (SSDs) that are increasingly replacing hard disk drives in data centers and cloud storage.

“The problem with flash is it’s very expensive,” Planjery said. “Trying to make it cheaper and denser gives rise to problems with reliability – but that’s where our technology comes in. What we’ve developed enables quality error correction while meeting required performance specifications.”

Planjery cofounded the company in 2012 with fellow Ph.Ds Dr. Bane Vasic and Dr. David Declercq, and the researchers developed Codelucida’s patented technology in the labs at The University of Arizona’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. They then partnered with Tech Launch Arizona, UA’s vehicle for moving inventions into the marketplace, to license the technology.

Ultimately, the technology has trickle-down potential for everyday consumers, according to Planjery.

“Cheaper flash that's still high-performance means cheaper storage costs for the end user,” he says. “Let’s say you have a smartphone with 32 gigabytes of memory, but you take a ton of photos and want local storage. Today, that higher-memory option costs $300 more. Indirectly, we hope to enable a future where you'll get a higher-memory phone that costs less.”

Planjery credits much of the company’s success to Arizona’s supportive startup community. Codelucida launched at the Arizona Center for Innovation in Tucson, and the founders were impressed by the city’s business-friendly climate.

“Early on, we got a lot of advice for us to move to Silicon Valley,” Planjery said. “But we stuck around because of the unique support system we have here. There’s a substantially lower cost of doing business here, and that enables us to get much more done with our core team; we can operate in a lean manner. And given that we are unique in Tucson, we get a lot more support and encouragement than we would elsewhere.”

Participating in the ACA’s Innovation Challenge forced Codelucida’s founders to carefully consider how to best frame the company’s story, he says.

“A big takeaway was that how you present a story matters,” he said. “We learned how to present our company well before we get to face-to-face meetings with investors and potential stakeholders, and it prompted us to think about big-picture questions that could influence our overall strategy. The feedback we received was excellent.”

In addition to the AIC grant, Codelucida has received funding from two National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and from angel investors.