Start-up raises €1m to help cut down server energy usage

26 Aug 2008

A Limerick-based technology company has raised €1m in venture capital to help it target the global server energy monitoring market using a technology it describes as “an internet of things”.

The funding raised by EpiSensor includes €500,000 from the AIB Seed Capital Fund co-managed by Enterprise Equity, €250,000 from Enterprise Ireland and an additional €250,000 through founder Gary Carroll, his family and director Brendan O’Malley.

EpiSensor’s technology is built around a technology called ZigBee, which has been described as an “internet of things”.

Its latest product under its new SICA platform is designed to monitor energy usage in server centres.

“It is estimated that server farms use 1.5pc of total energy conservation in the US, so technology to manage this is a major and rapidly growing market,” commented Gary Carroll, founder and executive chairman, EpiSensor.

“It is estimated that global servers use more energy than the airline industry.”

EpiSensor develops ZigBee compatible components that wirelessly link devices at extremely low power requirements. EpiSensor is targeting the emerging green market and has developed a wide range of energy monitoring and control devices ranging from electricity power supply to street lamps and water quality.

 “We see major potential for EpiSensor to become a global leader in a market that will show very strong growth,” said Frank Walsh of Enterprise Equity.

“EpiSensor is one of the first companies in Europe to successfully demonstrate ZigBee compliance of its prototype products.”

Already EpiSensor products are being trialled in North America, China, India, Ireland, UK and continental Europe.

Gary Carroll sees the potential to grow EpiSensor into an international business with revenue in excess of €20m by 2012.

“The global potential for ZigBee-enabled devices is enormous. This is being driven by energy and environmental needs to more cost effectively monitor and control devices remotely.”

It is estimated that the number of ZigBee enabled devices will exceed the number of Internet devices such as PCs and phones by at least a factor of 10.

Carroll founded Blackbird Data Systems in 1986. This specialised in shop-floor management systems for industry using radio frequency communications. He grew Blackbird to a turnover of €9m and 55 people before selling it in a multimillion euro deal in 2000 to €100m Belgian company, Zetes.

EpiSensor’s management team includes Brendan O’Malley, who has recently been hired as CEO designate. O’Malley was the first managing director of MAC (National Microelectronics Applications Centre) and has experience in generating global sales.

A former senior executive at Digital and Dairygold, he ran the European diagnostics division for international company Snap-on where he generated €100m in automotive diagnostic sales through a network of international distributors across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. EpiSensor’s route to international markets will be to build a similar network of distributors and resellers.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years