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RTLS Provider Ekahau Secures $16m to Fund Growth

RTLS Ekahau today announced $16 million in additional funding, $12 million of which represents a Series B round of venture capital, and $4 million of which is loans and government grants. Ekahau is one of the leading providers of WiFi-based RTLS solutions, which allow locationing functionality to be installed over existing WiFi networks.
Oct 31, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

October 31, 2006—Real-time location systems provider Ekahau today announced $16 million in additional funding, $12 million of which represents a Series B round of venture capital, and $4 million of which is loans and government grants. Ekahau is one of the leading providers of WiFi-based RTLS solutions, which allow locationing functionality to be installed over existing WiFi networks.

President and CEO Antti Korhonen said the funds would be put toward new product development, among other things. According to Korhonen, all three components of the Ekahau solution -- the tags, the server engine, and the application layer -- would see continued improvement and releases. The official funding announcement says new products are in the pipeline for this year and next. Korhonen also said the company would focus on building out its sales channel as a means of scaling their rapidly growing business.

This funding will probably be the last for Ekahau, which expects to be cash flow positive beginning in the second half of 2007.

RTLS technology has seen a significant increase in recognition over the last couple years. "RTLS is now a very interesting industry," commented Korhonen. "We saw that in the funding round. There was a lot of interest. At the end, we had to turn away some money because there was too much interest."

One of the industries most actively adopting RTLS is healthcare. Indeed, more than half of Ekahau's revenues next year are predicted to come from healthcare. Korhonen pointed to manufacturing as another sector that is accelerating adoption of the technology. Personal safety and security is a third area, for on-the-job tracking of employees that work in potentially dangerous situations, like miners and emergency room nurses.

Nexit Ventures led both this and the Series A round, which amounted to $6 million. Nexit focuses on wireless and information technologies and the geographic regions of Scandinavia and Silicon Valley. It has offices in Helsinki and Saratoga, California, locations in which Ekahau also has offices. Ekahau's management is primarily Finnish, and its core intellectual property was the product of research done at the Complex Systems Computation Group at the University of Helsinki.

Ekahau's solution uses standard WiFi access points to calculate the location of tagged objects. This means that a premises might not need to install additional infrastructure to realize locationing capabilities, a fact that is a key component of Ekahau's value proposition. (How many WiFi access points are necessary ultimately depends on a variety of factors, including the number of tagged objects, the desired coverage area, and the resolution requirements.) Two recognized WiFi-based RTLS providers that compete with Ekahau are AeroScout and PanGo Networks.

Active RFID is the leading alternative technology framework for RTLS. WhereNet, RF Code, and Radianse are the major players there.

For more on RTLS, see:

Read the funding announcement
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