The Week in Review: IoT

Startup funding; Qualcomm commentary; UTC picks Microsoft Cloud.

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Finance
Farmobile has raised $18.1 million in a Series B round of funding, led by Anterra Capital and AmTrust Agricultural Insurance Services, bringing its total funding to more than $28 million. Existing investors also took part in the new round. The agricultural Internet of Things startup will use the money to expand its operations around the world. Farmobile provides agronomic and machine data to vetted third parties. It is based in Overland Park, Kansas.

San Jose, Calif.-based VitalConnect, a biosensor startup, had a fourth and final closing of its Series C funding, bringing the new round to $38 million, for total private backing of $72 million. MVM and Baxter Ventures led the latest round. The company will employ the new funds to provide its VitalConnect Platform and VitalPatch wearable biosensor to hospitals and outpatient facilities across the U.S. The VitalPatch biosensor from VitalConnect is a Class 2 medical device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Ayla Networks has raised $60 million in Series D financing led by Run Liang Tai Fund and Sunsea Telecommunications Co. Ltd. Ayla Networks is partnering with Sunsea Telecommunications to form a joint venture, Ayla Sunsea, with Sunsea IoT, a subsidiary of Sunsea Telecom. Ayla is involved in Industrial IoT, offering a secure IoT platform as a cloud-based platform-as-a-service, and also serves customers in health care, retail, and telecommunications. The company will use the funds to expand its capabilities to help large enterprises extract IoT data and turn it into business intelligence, and to expand its ecosystem of partners and application providers.

Qualcomm Ventures and M Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Merck KGaA, have invested in Wiliot, a fabless semiconductor company founded in January, bringing total investment in the IoT chip startup to $19 million. Grove Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, and 83North Venture Capital have also invested in Wiliot, which is developing “Battery Free Bluetooth” technology. The startup plans to have proofs of concept during the latter half of 2018 and delivery to market in early 2019. Wiliot has a business development headquarters in San Diego, Calif., and a research and development team in Israel.

Vector Limited has made “a significant investment” in mPrest and will act as a reselling partner in the Oceania region for mPrest’s “Internet of Energy” software. New Zealand-based Vector, which is a customer of mPrest, joins OurCrowd, GE Ventures, Angeleno Group, Israel Electric Corp., and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. as an investor in mPrest.

Commentary

Canaccord Genuity technology analyst Michael Walkley had this to say about Qualcomm’s fiscal fourth-quarter results. “Despite the licensing disputes with Apple and likely Samsung, we believe Qualcomm is an attractive investment opportunity for longer-term investors during this time of uncertainty, as we believe Qualcomm will eventually settle their disputes with these two leading smartphone OEMs. We also believe the NXP merger remains on track and will create a company with significant earnings power and cash flow, developing into a clear industry leader in the mobile, IoT, and automotive semiconductor markets.” Walkley has raised his stock price target from $70 to $76 per share.

Deals

United Technologies has selected Microsoft to help implement its IoT operations. UTC units will use the cloud-based Azure and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for field service, sales, marketing, and preventive maintenance.

Pitney Bowes will collaborate with Arrow Electronics to help municipalities gather and analyze data from IoT devices to improve efficiencies in public infrastructure.

TrafficCast completed an agreement with DENSO to pair TrafficCast’s BlueTOAD Spectra RSU with DENSO’s Dedicated Short Range Communications device to provide V2X communications for connected and autonomous vehicles. The TrafficCast product is a Bluetooth signal detection system.

Scanbuy will work with Kezzler to bring the “Internet of Packaging” to SmartLabel QR Codes. The partnership is aimed at the consumer packaged goods business.

Certification

Gemalto reports that its LTE Cat M1 wireless module is certified by Verizon Communications. The company’s Cinterion EMS31 module is compatible with Gemalto’s embedded SIM for machine-to-machine and IIoT applications.

Recognition
SecureRF received the “Best Contribution to IoT Security” award at Arm TechCon 2017, held last month in Santa Clara, Calif. The company offers a free IoT Embedded Security Development Kit.



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