Irish tech firm Taoglas invests $2m in San Diego internet of things centre

22 Jan 2016

Wexford company Taoglas is investing $2m in an Internet of Things design centre in San Diego.

Taoglas, an Enniscorthy tech company specialising in the industrial internet of things (IoT) and radio frequency devices for machine-to-machine (M2M) platforms, has invested $2m in an IoT lab to support wireless device manufacturers.

Taoglas’ IoTx Centre in San Diego will be North America’s first antenna and radio frequency (RF) design centre dedicated to the IoT and M2M market.

The company, which has flown under the radar on these shores but works on RF systems for some of the world’s biggest consumer tech and B2B brands, was formed in Enniscorthy 12 years ago.

Taoglas was co-founded by local man Dermot O’Shea and Dubliner Ronan Quinlan in 2004 and already employs 37 people in Wexford and more than 130 worldwide.

‘This kind of open-door policy is rare in the antenna and wireless device testing business’

It already has facilities and labs in Taiwan and Germany, San Diego and Minneapolis, as well as Enniscorthy. Further investments and expansions are planned in Ireland and abroad, with Taoglas expecting to grow its workforce by a further 50pc.

Taoglas will also open facilities in France this year.

The new lab in San Diego includes two 3D anechoic test chambers, a team of antenna, RF and mechanical engineers and all the equipment and tools to design, test and debug issues for market-leading devices, many of which are on display in the facility itself.

Taoglas works with customers globally, from popular computing brands to major automotive brands, to ensure they get to market with successful wireless products.

The new test and design centre will support its North American customer base and offer support for customers at all stages of their product design cycle – from concept to certification readiness, O’Shea explained.

“Preparation, planning, experience and the tools to test and debug issues are critical in first-time success and Taoglas has founded the IoTx Centre to get that all done quickly and effectively.

“This kind of open-door policy is rare in the antenna and wireless device testing business,” according to O’Shea, who is the president of Taoglas USA and has headed up operations in San Diego since 2009.

“We have expanded our engineering team, added more test equipment and now have two chambers here to increase design and test capacity. As well as being able to prototype antennas and printed circuit boards (PCBs) etc we can test the antenna and devices in operation on site to ensure they work reliably in the real world.

“We have also now added an antenna and cable assembly operation so we can quickly produce antenna and custom radio frequency cable orders here in San Diego. Quite often, customers require products in a few days rather than weeks and we have now facilitated that demand with this new move.”

Ireland’s IoT hidden gem

It will be news to many that a firm poised to capitalise on the multi-billion-dollar IoT opportunity is working quietly and diligently from a headquarters in the Wexford town of Enniscorthy.

The company has a unique structure and ploughs all profits back into areas like R&D.

“From very early days, Taoglas has reinvested the majority of the profits back into the company, and it has paid off,” said Quinlan, joint CEO and co-founder of Taoglas

“Our enlarged San Diego facility reflects our growth rate last year of almost 100pc. We work hard to support our customers worldwide who not only need the off-the-shelf or custom antennas we offer, but also need design services and assistance.

“In Wexford, Taoglas’ headquarters houses R&D, finance, marketing and product management for Taoglas globally. It also has customer service, sales and engineering support for European customers,” Quinlan said.

In Ireland, we are mostly used to these kinds of investments coming from US multinationals, so it is nice to see Irish tech firms do the same in the US, says Ireland’s counsel general to the western US Philip Grant.

“The expansion of an Irish company in the North American market is a great example of how Irish technology and business ingenuity can contribute to local economies.

“Taoglas has been servicing this region from San Diego for only five years, so such growth is quite impressive,” said Grant.

San Diego skyline image via Shutterstock

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