University of Birmingham spinout, Smart Antenna Technologies secures extra funding
Birmingham, 19 February 2014. Smart Antenna Technologies (SAT) today announced the completion of a further investment lead by Mercia Fund Management, the investment syndicate included Angel investors, the company’s management team and family offices. The investment will fund product development and sales and marketing activities.
SAT provides an innovative single-antenna technology enabling mobile device manufacturers to replace all existing antennae with a single multi-band antenna, the performance of which will match that of the separate antennae at their specified frequencies.
SAT’s technology has emerged from research by Professor Peter Hall, Professor Peter Gardener and Dr Sampson Hu, leading experts in radio antenna technology at the University of Birmingham. The spinout, which launched in August 2013, was originally developed with the support of the University’s Enterprise Acceleration Team and its technology transfer company Alta Innovations Limited.
SAT has made significant progress since its launch. It completed a demonstrator of the technology and is working with leading consumer electronic suppliers in each of its key market sectors; mobile phone, laptops and tablets, in-car electronics and micro-base stations. SAT expects to convert these engagements into ‘design wins’ for inclusion in future products over the next 12 months.
Rick Hillum, CEO of SAT, comments: “As handset manufacturers are rolling out devices more frequently, they are looking to produce fewer variants. Consumers also want the ability to use their mobile device globally; our antenna provides seamless multi-continent coverage whilst supporting all other integrated functions that would normally require separate antenna¹s. We are rapidly ramping-up discussions with a number of the leading portable device manufacturers and chip-set suppliers and remain on course to produce our first antenna later this year.”
Everard Mascarenhas of Mercia Fund Management added: “We are extremely
pleased with the progress the company has made within such a short time. The performance of the demonstrator exceeded our expectations both in terms of its technical performance and the time-scale in which it has been produced. We were always very confident that the benefits SAT’s technology had to offer would attract mobile device manufacturers, the speed with which the tier 1 suppliers have engage with SAT has surprised and delighted us and validated the market opportunity. This only confirms our believe in the disruptive nature of the technology and the quality, commitment and focus of the management team”
About the technology
Currently mobile devices require a separate antenna to support each communication technology such as Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, GSM and 3G/4G. 4G phones are expected to have up to six narrow band antennae operating on individual band segments. This is highly inefficient in terms of cost and space occupied in the device. The patented solution uses a novel foil or printable antenna and control chip to produce a compact multi-frequency antenna.
SAT’s single antenna solution is expected to ultimately cost a few dollars per handset compared to several dollar per antenna for existing mobile devices. Additionally, SAT uses software re-configurable hardware enabling manufacturers to produce one device for all territories, reduce costs and streamline manufacturing & logistics. SAT’s technology has already generated interest from its target customers, including include cellular handset and chipset manufacturers.
This technology delivers major benefits on every critical constraint for handset manufacturers, including cost, design flexibility, space, single product for multiple territories and extended battery life. It is also fully complementary to existing RF solutions being used by the mobile phone industry and emerging products such as Qualcomm’s RF360 technology.
About Smart Antenna Technologies
Smart Antenna Technologies (SAT) is a spinout company from the University of Birmingham, based at Birmingham Research Park. The team have designed, developed and patented a pioneering smart antenna technology. The market for this highly scalable technology is the global cellular handset market. SAT's remarkable innovation has led to the creation of a significant number of patent applications, both filed and in process.
Today, handset manufacturers are seeking an effective antenna solution suitable for implementing the next generation of cellular handset technologies, known as Long Term Evolution (4G LTE). Currently, they are unable to achieve physically the desired antenna performance in a size that fits a cellular handset package at an acceptable volume cost. Current implementations from the leading handset manufacturers employ typically six antennas. The highly compact SAT technology replaces all existing antennas—DVB-H, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GSM, GPS, 3G multi-bands and 3.9/4G LTE—with just one. This single SAT device provides significantly lower costs, is smaller in size and offers much needed performance gains over existing designs and technology.
About Mercia Fund Management
Mercia Fund Management (MFM) is a venture capital fund manager with over £19 million under active management.
MFM provides investment growth capital for businesses ranging from early commercial traction through to those seeking expansion or working capital that are trading profitably. Furthermore, MFM can also provide cost-effective incubator accommodation at Forward House in Henley-in-Arden coupled with centralised support services in keeping with its model as a hands-on, supportive investor.
MFM is an FCA authorised and regulated fund manager under FSMA (FRN: 524856).
About The University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham is a truly vibrant, global community and an internationally-renowned institution. Ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 countries.
The University is home to nearly 30,000 students. With more than 7,500 postgraduate students from across the world, Birmingham is one of the most popular universities for postgraduate study in the UK.
The University plays an integral role in the economic, social and cultural growth of local and regional communities; working closely with businesses and organisations, employing approximately 6,000 staff and providing 10,000 graduates annually.
About Alta Innovations
Alta Innovations Ltd is the University of Birmingham’s technology transfer company and is responsible for the commercialisation of research undertaken at the University. Alta Innovations links academic research with business through licensing and spinout activity, collaborative research and consultancy projects to generate the new ideas, technologies and processes required to achieve competitive advantage.
The University of Birmingham is using its experience in both commercialising new technologies and in nurturing young companies, to help entrepreneurs and start-ups to transform innovation into enterprise through the new BizzInn incubator, run by the Enterprise Acceleration Team in association with Alta Innovations.
BizzInn is a key element of the new Birmingham Biomedical Innovation Hub being built on the Birmingham Research Park (due for completion in summer of 2014). The Birmingham Biomedical Innovation Hub is a £6.8m project (part-funded by the European Development Fund (ERDF)), aimed at increasing the engagement of companies in the biomedical and related sectors with the University and encouraging access to facilities both within the University and within new lab-space provided at the Innovation Hub.
For more information about the Enterprise Acceleration Team and BizzInn Incubator please see: http://bizzinn.org/index.php
Posted on Thursday 20th February 2014