Are industrial IoT projects now mainstream? Actility funding soars

14 Jun 2017

Image: Christian Lagerek/Shutterstock

The world of industrial internet of things has been rumbling behind the scenes, though some projects are booming with enthusiasm.

What does the term ‘industrial internet of things’ (IIoT) mean? For brevity, it is essentially a world of sensor-laden devices, immense analytics capabilities, and everything else that will one day make industrial manufacturing considerably more efficient under ‘Industry 4.0’.

Described as the ‘perfect storm’, IIoT will effectively turn every device in a manufacturing plant  – or in places as remote as oil rigs in the North Sea – into a data gatherer.


Safe and secure

And it’s far from niche, not when massive industrial events are emerging on a more regular basis.

Incidents such as the Dyn DDoS attack last year, or the Ukrainian example of an energy security nightmare, show how important it is to keep key areas of industry not just up to date, but so secure as to prove a deterrent to hackers.

Speaking as a panel member at a meeting of the Association for Computing Machinery earlier this year, Google’s ‘internet evangelist’ Vint Cerf described the fear he harbours over the security of IoT.

“The biggest worry I have is that people building [IoT] devices will grab a piece of open source software or operating system, and just jam it into the device and send it out into the wild without giving adequate thought and effort to securing the system and providing convenient user access to those devices,” Cerf said.

And companies are looking at this very issue, investigating ways to bring connectivity to more and more areas of industry, in clever ways, through low-powered structures.

For example, Actility, a company interested in low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) for IIoT, has added another funder to its $74m Series D round. Investors now include Cisco Investments, Orange, Inmarsat, Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Cready.

The funding will enable Actility to roll out IIoT solutions with its partners in areas such as logistics and supply chain, smart buildings, and energy and utilities.

Insuring the future

Away from IIoT, insurtech company Snapsheet raised $12m in its own Series D round. The company will use the investment to enhance its virtual claims platform with AI and machine learning.

Snapsheet helps auto insurance companies to simplify and improve the claims-processing experience, doing so by taking a virtual approach.

The company says that it can process 90pc of all claims by photograph and automate 70pc of all customer communications, leading to a 20pc reduction in loss payments.

Thriving medtech scene

In the UK, medtech start-up Thriva raised £1.5m this week in seed funding, with Alex Chesterman (CEO of Zoopla), Taavet Hinrikus, (CEO of TransferWise), Seedcamp, 500 Startups and the London Co-Investment Fund all involved.

Thriva will use the funding to expand its product range and will soon be able to analyse a variety of health markers, from gut health to heavy metals to hormones.

“In five years’ time, we’ll look back and think it’s ludicrous how little most people knew about what was really happening inside their bodies,” said Thriva CEO Hamish Grierson.

“We’re motivated by a simple view: that the world would be a better place if more people felt it was OK to know their bodies. Your blood can tell an amazing story about your health. Our mission is to ensure that understanding and tracking your biochemistry becomes as normal as counting your steps or jumping on the weighing scales.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic