As part of our Europe Start-up 100 listings of companies to watch in 2017, here are 25 of the most intriguing IoT-oriented start-ups.
The internet of things (IoT) revolution is underway, heralding what some say is the fourth industrial revolution.
Across Europe, there are many exciting new companies that are leading the charge in smartening up pretty much everything, from factories and cars to the devices in your home.
Our 25 IoT start-ups to watch in 2017 form part of our Europe Start-up 100 list, which also counts the 25 top start-ups in fintech (28 November 2016), the 25 top start-ups in SaaS and data (7 December) and the 25 top start-ups in e-commerce and mobile (8 December).
The selection of this year’s top 25 to watch was based on each company’s technological relevance as well as funding activity in the past year.
We included a few Israel-based start-ups because they are usually included in the territorial remit of Europe’s savviest tech investors, and as such, are part of the start-up zone of influence in Europe.
Stay posted for Friday (9 December) when we produce the Europe Start-up 100 listing in its entirety.
— Sigfox (@sigfox) December 1, 2016
France-based start-up Sigfox is a six-year-old company that is effectively laying down the wireless tapestry for IoT. Founded by Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet, the company is building a network to connect billions of devices to the internet while consuming as little energy as possible.
Currently operating in 26 countries and registering more than 10m devices in its network, Sigfox recently raised €150m in a Series E round.
Sigfox owes its speed of deployment to the fact that its network requires lighter infrastructure than traditional wireless networks, and only needs a limited number of sites in order for it to increase its network footprint.
Dublin and Berlin-based Smartfrog is an IoT security camera player with users in 130 countries worldwide, and recently raised €20m in a new funding round.
Smartfrog is just one year old, and the latest funding round brings the figure raised by the company so far to €28m. This was achieved with the help of existing investors E.ventures, Target Global and a number of unnamed family offices.
Smartfrog has developed a universal IoT platform designed to build dedicated solutions across product areas. With 60 staff, the company has established several partnerships with leading e-tailers and retailers such as Amazon, Otto, Media Markt and Saturn, as well as leading utilities and consumer electronics distributors in Europe.
Ireland is fast becoming the city to watch for start-ups using IoT to make cycling safer and easier across Ireland.
One such start-up is Cyc-Lok, which has begun rolling out its secure smart lockers for bicycles and bicycle equipment that can be accessed via a smartphone app.
Founded by Stephen and Louise Murphy, the company’s first unit was installed at Pearse Station in Dublin.
The Carlow-based company made it to the final two of the pitch battle at the recent Uprise Festival, but just missed out on the top prize.
Co-founded in 2015 by Charles Seadon (CTO) and Fiona Levie (CEO), Gigliotti serves the hospitality sector with its current in-room Smartdrinx System minibar.
The system is an IoT automated dispenser which offers up to 60 products that the company believes will put it in a prominent position, in a market worth €10bn globally.
With operations in Clare and Frankfurt, the company has already agreed a sales and distribution deal in Dubai worth an estimated $1bn over the next five years, as well as a $3.5bn deal over the next five with its associates, Hospitality Future Labs in San Francisco.
Founded in 2009, H&D Wireless is a Swedish IoT cloud and platform system that sustains wireless modules, cloud services and smartphone applications for smart homes and enterprises.
Its latest venture is in the field of cashless payments with its Griffin Enterprise Positioning and Payments System. H&D Wireless was recently the recipient of a $3m investment to expand this latest venture.
Considered one of Sweden’s fastest growing and most decorated high-tech start-ups, the company has said that it plans to list its shares at Nasdaq First North in Stockholm during the first half of 2017.
Founded in 2009 in the UK, Freespee has transitioned from an adtech company to one delving into the growing field of ‘conversational commerce’, which uses chatbots to make purchases through messaging apps.
The company’s platform is designed to let clients track how much returns they are getting from a conversational commerce service through their web or mobile app, but most importantly, across multiple channels, including email and phone.
This November, the company closed €9.25m in Series B funding, following its work with such clients as Allianz, Lloyds, eBay, Bupa, Marriott Hotels and Peugeot.
Based in Romania, DeviceHub.net offers a platform through which developers can connect and remotely manage multiple devices.
Founded in 2013 by Ionut Cotoi, Constantin Craciun and Cristiana Bogateanu, the idea was to create the first Romanian ‘hackerspace’. It received €80,000 in finance from Deutsche Telekom Group.
DeviceHub.net can be integrated with any kind of hardware and is specially designed for smart metering, fleet management, home automation, IoT makers and wearables.
The company now has a community of over 2,000 active developers that have contributed to the platform with integration of both hardware and web technologies.
— Silvair (@meetsilvair) October 25, 2016
Silvair is an end-to-end smart lighting platform enabling manufacturers to provide an enhanced lighting experience to their customers. The most important aspect is that the Bluetooth device is quite literally ‘plug in and play’.
Based in Poland, Silvair, formerly known as Seed Labs, was founded in 2013 by Rafal Han.
The company raised $12m in Series A funding with Trigon TFI, Digital Garage, CyberAgent Ventures, and New Europe Ventures, and is using the money to roll out further improvements to the platform and ramp up their customer support.
— Kim Mackenzie-Doyle (@KimMacDoy) November 17, 2016
Founded in 2014 by Oliver Hynes, Hub Controls brings customers The Hub Controller, which is a smart thermostat you can control from your smartphone.
The Hub Controller can also learn your heating habits and optimise itself to save you money.
Hynes has worked extensively in the heating industry throughout Europe for the past 20 years. He came up with the idea when a family member had difficulty paying an electricity bill and was offered a prepaid meter, which Hynes worked out would be more expensive than the standard bill-pay supply.
German company Senic provides software and hardware for people to connect with their modern homes. It recently launched its first product Nuimo, a smart home controller that enables users to change their music volume, turn down their lights etc.
Senic was founded in 2013 by Tobias Eichenwald, Philip Michaelides, and Felix Christmann: “We started Senic because we love technology – but we didn’t love how we were interacting with it.”
In August, the company successfully raised seed funding from venture capital firm Target Partners and it currently employs 10 people at its headquarters in Berlin.
Founded in 2012 by Stefan Grosjean and Hans Delabie, Smappee is a device that monitors your consumption of energy, gas, water and solar energy on a real-time basis. Similar to “a traffic controller at a busy intersection”, it also allows consumers to control their home appliances.
Based in Belgium, the company has already sold more than 100,000 Smappee meters.
A recent development is that owners with solar panels can now use them to earn a cryptocurrency called SolarCoin, incentivising them to bring the benefits of blockchain technology to their own homes.
Consumer electronics company Netatmo was founded in 2011 by Fred Potter and Jean-Pierre Dumolard, with the aim “to create a smarter home”.
Headquartered in France, Netatmo offers products such as security cameras with facial recognition, smart voice-controlled thermostats and indoor climate monitors. These products can be connected with other apps and services to create a fully interactive ecosystem within the home.
Last month, it launched its outdoor security camera Presence – with people, animal and car detection – in the UK and the US.
— PointGrab (@PointGrab) October 28, 2016
Founded by Haim Perski (CEO) and Saar Wilf (chair) in 2008, Israeli start-up PointGrab provides smart-sensor solutions for building automation.
The start-up deploys sensors to efficiently gather data in real time on how and where occupants use a building. This data is then used to optimise operations, save energy and plan the workplace intelligently.
PointGrab has raised €11.3m over two funding rounds. The more recent – which closed in October of this year – netted the start-up €6.6m, with investments coming from Philips Lighting, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital and ABB Technology Ventures.
— ecorobotix (@ecoRobotix) November 22, 2016
Swiss start-up EcoRobotix is a prime example of tech for good, utilising IoT technologies not only to combat environmental concerns, but to save money for those working in agriculture.
Founded by Steve Tanner and Aurélien G Demaurex in 2011, EcoRobotix aims to cut down on the expense – and the potential for chemical pollution – associated with weeding crop fields.
EcoRobotix’s solar-powered machine autonomously navigates fields, detects weeds and destroys them without compromising nearby crops or the wider ecosystem.
The start-up has recently closed its first funding round, nabbing €2.8m in a single investment from 4FO Ventures.
— Personal Drones (@Personal_Drones) November 22, 2016
The Antwerp-based UniFly, a spin-off of the Flemish Institute for Technological Research, has its eyes on the skies. Specialising in aviation software development, UniFly is striving to safely integrate drones into more traditional air traffic.
The start-up’s cloud-based platform manages drone traffic and drone operations, helping operators to find safe and legal airspace in which to fly.
Founded in 2015 by Andres Van Swalm and Jürgen Verstaen, UniFly closed its first funding round on 21 November, pulling in €5m in a Series A investment from Terra Drone.
Otonomo is one of the growing number of start-ups emerging in the autonomous car field, with the Israeli firm recently raising $12m in funding from Bessemer Venture Partners and StageOne Ventures, with participation from Maniv Mobility and LocalGlobe.
Founded in Tel Aviv in 2015 by Ben Volkow and Avner Cohen, the company’s cloud-based platform connects service providers and app developers with (potentially) millions of connected cars. The company’s software would essentially be a layer between car manufacturers and customers, a way of monetising the deluge of data created when in use.
Founded in 2015 by Conall Laverty, Wia is an IoT start-up that aims to fuel and transform the maker revolution with readily accessible tools.
“Wia provides developers with a cloud infrastructure for building real-time sensor and location applications,” explained Laverty to Siliconrepublic.com earlier this year.
Winner of the Best Start-up category at the Irish Internet Association awards ceremony held in the RDS in October, Laverty’s business also finished as a finalist in the ESB Spark of Genius competition at the 2016 Web Summit in Lisbon.
As an expert in connected health devices, Galway start-up Bluedrop Medical’s technology allows doctors to detect foot ulcers in diabetics, which if left untreated, could result in amputation requirements.
The US market for this type of technology is incredible, with up to 86,000 amputations annually as a result of diabetic foot ulcers – at an estimated cost of $17bn.
Graduates of Bank of Ireland’s six-month incubator StartLab, Bluedrop’s founders are Chris Murphy – who won the Irish leg of the James Dyson Award back in 2011 – and Simon Kiersey.
In August, the company landed €600,000 in funding from investors including Ian Quinn, founder of Creganna, and Paul Gilson, founder of MedNova, Novate and Veryan.
German start-up KIWI has developed a way of retrofitting building doors for IoT by putting RFID sensors in buzzer systems to unlock doors.
It has two components: KI is a piece of hardware that users can carry with them and which picks up a signal from the transponder in the door, and WI (or wireless) is a smartphone app that lets users open the lock.
The Berlin-based company’s technology has been installed in 1,500 buildings, or around 15,000 apartments.
KIWI has also partnered with Deutsche Post to give mail workers access to apartment buildings to drop off mail.
— Delta Partners VC (@DeltaVC) October 19, 2016
Winner of Dublin City University’s 2016 UStart Company of the Year Award, HydraSure’s automated drinking system – the Equameter – does more than simply deliver water to horses (and, no, it can’t make them drink).
Equameter stores historic data on horses’ water consumption, which can vary as seasons, diet and other factors change. This continuous monitoring provides insight into equine drinking behaviour and can highlight any abnormalities.
Founded by Emer Cooney, a biologist and horse riding instructor from Co Wicklow, HydraSure has been in development for more than two years and, in 2015, it secured €50,000 in equity funding from Enterprise Ireland.
Shipping update: everyone who ordered before Nov 14 will receive their tado° before Xmas. The others from end of January on pic.twitter.com/RXMwlZaOkf
— tado° (@tado) November 24, 2016
This year, in its third funding round, Munich’s Tado raised $23m, bringing its total sum of investment to roughly $56m.
Founded in 2011 by Christian Deilmann (CEO), Leopold von Bismarck (CMO) and Johannes Schwarz (CTO), Tado’s long list of backers have invested in what’s set to be the ‘Nest of Europe’.
To differentiate from the stiff competition, Tado’s smart thermostats and smart air conditioning controllers use location-based technology to track when users leave their home or are on their way back, and automatically adjusts the temperature accordingly. In September, the brand announced compatibility with Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon Echo and IFTTT.
— relayr (@relayr_iot) December 5, 2016
Founded in 2013, Relayr announced a $2.3m seed round the following year. In 2016, they pushed that decimal point further with a $23m Series B round.
As well as raising investment, founders Michael Bommer, Harald Zapp and Jackson Bond have been securing deals for their sensors and data-collection technology across various industries; from first-of-its-kind insurance solutions with specialty insurer Hartford Steam Boiler, to tracking data for Deutsche Bahn trains and Schindler lifts, and providing middleware for electronics distributor Avnet.
— graphcore (@graphcoreai) December 5, 2016
UK company Graphcore is a start-up that is developing a new technology to deliver major acceleration for machine learning and AI applications.
The company recently completed a $30m Series A funding round led by Robert Bosch Venture GmbH with Samsung Catalyst Fund, Amadeus Capital Partners, C4 Ventures, Draper Esprit plc, Foundation Capital and Pitango Venture Capital.
The Bristol-based company has built hardware and software to accelerate next-generation machine intelligence applications such as natural language dialogue, autonomous vehicles and personalised medicines.
Netherlands-based start-up Undagrid makes airports, harbours and logistics smarter by connecting assets in a single network.
Undagrid’s technology lets devices form their own self-expanding network without any configuration or the need for any type of controller.
Due to the fact that the Undagrid solution is extremely low on power, the devices can operate for years on one battery.
The Undagrid team includes Christiaan Willemsen, Marcus Breekweb, Rolf van de Velde and Lennart Schroer, and has over 40 years’ experience in IoT.
— Seebo (@Seebo) November 23, 2016
Seebo is a Tel Aviv start-up that was founded in 2012 by Liran Akavia and Lior Akavia. The company provides an end-to-end IoT platform to help various companies launch smart products faster.
Interest in Seebo is significant, with $14m raised to date – the most recent of which was $8.5m in January of this year, in a round led by Carmel Ventures. The company now has offices in Shenzhen and San Francisco. Its list of partners includes Autodesk, Intel and Tetro.