Startup Profile: Actility Scores $75M for IoT network

I have long believed that telcos and communications providers should try to run their networks more like Amazon and Google run their clouds. The focus should be on connecting devices quickly, billing on-demand and customizing offerings for customers who can get what they need without having to call a person.

Technically, this is now possible. Some carriers, such as AT&T with its Domain 2.0 effort, are moving toward it. But for the internet of things, on-demand and cheap connectivity is essential. When there are billions of connected devices, you can’t expect carriers to have a one-to-one relationship with each device. There’s no way you can put a SIM card into a sensor, expect a local telco provider to provision it and then mail you a bill each month.

Actility is solving this problem with software called ThingPark that combines necessary ingredients such as device provisioning, billing and business rules in one place. The six-year-old company sells its software to telco equipment providers like Cisco, Nokia and others who then embed the software into their base stations.

Then service providers such as Orange, Comcast, NTT, Softbank and others use the software to create pools of connectivity that connected devices can tap into.

It’s a complicated business, but the net result is that if a logistics company calls Orange hoping to track its fleet around the world, Orange can ask what sensors the logistics provider wants to use, make sure drivers for those sensors are in the ThingPark system, and then offer an array of radio options around the world.

Mike Mulica, the CEO of Actility, says the software acts as a marketplace so companies that want to provide the pieces for the internet of things don’t have to spend time and money doing one-off integrations and deals. Instead, customers like CIOs of cities or manufacturing plants, can navigate the Actility-provided software from their service provider and connect things in real-time as they are needed.

Mulica believes that his flexible model will work well for IoT, where the cost of connecting a device has to be low. Mulica’s worldview is right on, and investors seem to agree. This week, Actility raised $ 75 million in a D round of funding from new investors Creadev, Bosch and Inmarsat which joined existing investors like Orange and Swisscom.

Inmarsat’s participation is a sign of Actility’s ambitions. Actility signed a deal earlier this year with the satellite company to provide connectivity backhaul for sensors in areas where internet access is tough to get. Ships or remote mining operations are examples.

Actility also supports cellular standards like LTE-M and NB-IoT. But it also deals in unlicensed spectrum with support for Wi-Fi and LoRA. In fact, Mulica believes that LoRa will become the Wi-Fi of the industrial internet because companies can deploy it themselves without worrying about a cellular carrier.

Since all sorts of devices will eventually get a connection, this heterogeneous approach to different connection options and the flexible nature of Actility’s software feel like a good bet. Others must agree as Actility has some competition. Cisco bought Jasper, which is a slightly less flexible way of solving this problem and there’s a company called Aeris in Santa Clara, California that has created a similar platform called Neo.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Actility Closes $75M Series D to Accelerate Industrial IoT Solutions Globally

Actility, a carrier-grade IoT platform and LPWAN (low power wide area network) solution provider raised $ 75M Series D on April 12. The latest round was led by Inmarsat, Bosch, and Creadev with 7 other investors including Foxconn Technology Group. Before this, Actility had raised $ 25M Series C in June 2015 led by Geneva-based Ginko Ventures.

The company announced to use the funding proceeds for expanding in key verticals: logistics and supply chain; smart buildings; and energy & utilities. The capital will also help Actility expand to the US market and build strength in China. Apart from market expansions, it plans to launch a global location and tracking service. The company plans to close another funding round later this month.

One of the major successes of Actility has been ThingPark, an integrated platform designed to enable IoT services for any market sector, enabling connectivity, and a full set of IoT applications.

The platform is an implementation of the LoRa protocol for long-range, low-power wireless networks capable of sending two-way signals over two to five kilometers in a city, and up to 15 kilometers in open countryside.

A key reason for investors lining up behind Actility is its rapid growth in the emerging LoRaWAN ecosystem for IoT applications. Actility’s platform is radio-agnostic and supports capabilities such as location and roaming.


Postscapes: Tracking the Internet of Things

Actility raises $75m from investors including Bosch

Actility raises $ 75m from investors including Bosch

Actility, the Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) specialist, has raised $ 75 million in its Series D funding round, with new investors including German industrial company Bosch.

The investment will help the company to expand its focus on industrial IoT solutions in the areas of logistics and supply chain, smart buildings, and energy and utilities.

In the first closing, Bosch is joined by investment company Creadev and British telecoms business Inmarsat as new investors, alongside existing investors including electronics company Foxconn, corporate fund Orange Digital Ventures, and telecoms companies Swisscom and KPN.

Actility provides IoT solutions based on LoRaWAN, and its CEO, Mike Mulica, says that the fundraising will enable the company to grow its IoT technology and ecosystem platform more swiftly, and roll out its global location and tracking service more quickly too.

“It will also allow us to accelerate our strategy for the US, and build strength in China. And last but by no means least, it will enable us to look at strategic acquisitions to broaden our technology portfolio and cement our leadership in LPWA,” he said.

Read more: Actility and Inmarsat deliver global LoRaWAN network

A leader in LoRaWAN

According to Cyril Vancura, investment principal at Bosch, the reason the company invested in Actility is because it is the clear leader in the LoRaWAN ecosystem for IoT applications and has shown impressive growth in the past.

Bosch managing partner Ingo Ramesohl added: “IoT is a strategically important field to Bosch. Our company already has a wide offering in fields such as connected manufacturing, mobility, connected energy, smart building, and connected buildings. As such, we think that there will be substantial collaboration opportunities between Actility and Bosch in the future.”

Clive Longbottom, analyst at Quocirca, explained that for a company like Bosch, it doesn’t make sense for it to reinvent the wheel in a market where other companies are specialists – and this is why it is investing in Actility rather than acquiring a LoRaWAN company or building up the capabilities in-house.

Read more: Pinacl outlines LoRaWAN plans for Welsh city of Newport

In pursuit of longevity

By investing in the company, Bosch can ensure that Actility has more longevity too, said Longbottom.

“It gives more power over the direction of the company; a greater sense that the future of the company is secure and enables a deeper partnership to be built,” he said.

“Any need to replace the vendor with another further down the line could be highly damaging to Bosch’s – or any other IoT vendor’s – own brand,” he added.

Longbottom also suggested that the investment Actility had received showed a degree of maturity, as it wasn’t just from venture capitalists and angel investors.

“Bosch or one of the other companies could have opted for a direct acquisition of an early-stage company – it would have been cheap and given full control over the direction of the company,” he said.

“However, by not just acquiring the company, Bosch and the other vendors still enable Actility to bring in money from elsewhere, both through investment and sales. As any WAN solution needs to be as standardized as possible, this also makes sense as it’s better to piggyback off the back of a successful, agnostic vendor than to try and make an acquired company a success purely for Bosch or any other vendor itself,” he said.

Read more: Digital Catapult rolls out ‘UK’s largest IoT LoRaWAN network’

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Actility Energised by $75M of New Capital to Accelerate Industrial IoT Solutions Globally

Actility Energised by $ 75M of New Capital to Accelerate Industrial IoT Solutions Globally

Actility, the industry leader in Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) for the internet of Things (IoT), today announced that it has successfully completed its Series D funding round, raising $ 75M to enhance its portfolio of IoT solutions.

The company’s expansion will focus on enabling industrial IoT solutions in key verticals: logistics and supply chain; smart buildings; and energy & utilities. In the first closing, Creadev, Bosch and Inmarsat are among the new investors, alongside existing investors such as Idinvest, Bpifrance, Ginko Ventures, KPN, Orange Digital Ventures, Swisscom and Foxconn. A second closing later this month will see additional strategic investors joining the company in support of this over-subscribed capital raise, which was achieved by the company without involving banks.

Since the 2015 Series C financing, Actility has become the clear leader in global IoT solutions based on LoRaWAN, a dedicated radio network protocol for the IoT, co-invented by Actility. Today, the ThingPark platform is powering most national and large-scale LPWA rollouts worldwide. ThingPark has grown increasingly more industrial, supporting LoRaWAN, LTE-M and NB-IoT, becoming the most powerful IoT service orchestration platform available today. In addition, thanks to a cohesive software stack comprising the ThingPark OS service and business support manager, ThingPark X application integration enabler, and the ThingPark Market ecosystem-wide e-commerce platform, Actility stands alone as the sole turn-key IoT ecosystem enablement platform supporting sensor to cloud application solution on-ramping and monetisation through the entire life cycle of automated connected object management and monetisation. At the same time, the company has seen demand for IoT solutions growing rapidly around the world. The emergence of China as a vital market for IoT and rich source of ecosystem partners will accelerate the rapid adoption of LPWA technology globally.

Actility CEO Mike Mulica, explains:

“This fundraising will enable us to grow our IoT technology and ecosystem platform faster to meet the needs of service providers, solution providers and enterprises in large industry verticals, for example rolling out our disruptive global location and tracking service more quickly. It will also allow us to accelerate our strategy for the US, and build strength in China. And last but by no means least, it will enable us to look at strategic acquisitions to broaden our technology portfolio and cement our leadership in LPWA.”

Florent Thomann, a member of Creadev’s management board, and in charge of new digital models, says:
“We have been looking for the best project in the business of connectivity for the IoT for a while. In Actility, we found a company that offers an ideal solution and has made the perfect technology choices in LPWA and LTE-M to meet that growing connectivity market. We are convinced by both the company and its management, which shows a real visionary insight into the technology and business models and the way that connectivity will evolve. Furthermore, Actility’s team is proving to be particularly agile at innovation, adapting to new technologies very efficiently. We are pleased to bring our culture of ambition, support and sharing best business practice to help nurture Actility’s long-term growth.”

Paul Gudonis, President, Inmarsat Enterprise, commented:
“Inmarsat sees a great deal of potential in Actility, and its expertise in global IoT networks, based on LoRaWAN, makes it a natural fit for our investment. There are clear synergies between us, namely the ability to deliver innovative connectivity services to customers in remote locations, creating the potential for a global IoT network. To this end, we recently developed our LoRaWAN-based network in partnership with Actility to enable IoT to reach every corner of the globe. We have many more projects planned with Actility and we are excited to support the company’s rapid growth as it continues to make great strides in the IoT arena. This market is rapidly maturing and Actility, with its growing ecosystem of partners, is ideally positioned to take advantage of this for the benefit of businesses across a variety of industries.”

Cyril Vancura, Investment Principal at Bosch, explains the company’s investment:
“Actility is the clear leader in the emerging LoRaWAN ecosystem for IoT applications and has exhibited impressive growth in the past. We are excited to support the company on the next phase of this journey.”

Bosch Managing Partner Ingo Ramesohl adds: “IoT is a strategically important field to Bosch. Our company already has a wide offering in fields such as connected manufacturing, mobility, connected energy, smart building, and connected buildings. As such, we think that there will be substantial collaboration opportunities between Actility and Bosch in the future.”

Anne-Sophie Carrese, Investment Director at Bpifrance, comments:
“We congratulate Actility on the considerable distance they have covered since their creation in 2010. The company has gone through major changes ever since and has established a solid international commercial portfolio to build on in the coming months and years. We are proud to being able to provide our financial support and our knowledge to Actility, which entirely fits with our funding strategy and philosophy. The Ecotechnologies fund of Bpifrance, who initiated their engagement with Actility in 2012, has the ambition to continue helping to transform the company from a start-up into the worldwide leader of IoT.”

“We believe that Actility continues to be a world leader in networking for the internet of things,” says Matthieu Baret, partner at Idinvest Partners, “and we’re excited to be able to support the company’s global growth. We’re also very pleased to see that Actility is maintaining that tradition of technology leadership, both in adopting other 3GPP network technologies such as LTE-M and NB-IoT, and developing business solution enablers like roaming and location and tracking. We believe the company is well-placed to be at the forefront of the internet of things revolution for the enterprise.”

Pierre Louette, Deputy CEO of Orange and President of Orange Digital Ventures comments:
“We are happy to be strengthening our support for Actility through this new fundraising round, which clearly demonstrates the ability of corporate venturing to help scale-up innovative new companies. Orange Digital Ventures was an early believer in Actility’s management team and in the potential of LoRaWAN technology; this confidence has now been confirmed as the company continues to expand internationally. Today, Orange is one of Actility’s main customers in France and we hope to extend this partnership in other countries across our footprint in Europe and Africa. We are convinced that a growing number of industries will imagine powerful industrial use-cases that are made possible through Actility’s market-leading platform. Orange will continue to lend its support in bringing such IoT solutions to its enterprise customers. We are not at dawn of the next industrial revolution — we are already in it!”

“Since our last investment, in July 2015, Actility has made tremendous progress,” observes Ginko Ventures’ Managing Partner Dominique Pitteloud, “both in terms of global deployment with many of the largest IoT networks, and has extended its product portfolio to become a general purpose IoT platform which is radio-agnostic and supports vital capabilities such as location and roaming. We are proud to be able to continue to support the company’s further development and growth.”

“We’re excited to be an investor as well as one of Actility’s first customers with a nation-wide deployment of LPWAN”, explains Stefan Kuentz, Investment Director Swisscom Ventures. “The management team has a compelling vision with a proven ability to execute globally within a short time span. We are looking forward to supporting the company into its next growth stage.”

Herman Kienhuis, Managing Director KPN Ventures, adds:
“Actility is the clear industry leader in LPWAN networking technology to connect devices to the internet. Through powerful partnerships, Actility is building a truly global IoT network. KPN has been working together closely with Actility in rolling out KPN’s nationwide internet of things network in The Netherlands. We see that the market for connected devices is developing rapidly and a wide range of valuable use cases is emerging, from gathering data for energy and waste management to equipment tracking, and from dike monitoring to parking sensors. KPN Ventures is happy to support Actility in its further growth as part of the strong investor syndicate as well.”

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