Commercializing IoT Business Opportunities

By Anne Servidad

The Internet of Things (IoT) companies have collected a total of $125 billion in funding. These products can range anywhere from indoor environment control to baby monitors and everything in between. But for new or growing IoT companies, the challenges of manufacturing, scaling, and receiving funding can be a daunting hurdle. We’re here to give you advice on each of these areas and how to overcome them.

1. Manufacturing
Sometimes, to bring ideas to life you need to find the right partner who will accelerate that process. In this case Thinfilm, a Norwegian printed electronics company, partnered with Xerox to create printed micro circuits on a thin film of adhesive plastic. These films are labels that are used to sense and store data, for a fraction of what conventional electronics cost. It can count and measure, and even tell you when a water filter needs to be changed or if a compliant part is being used in a medical device.

Thinfilm and Xerox forged this partnership that combined their own specialties—Xerox’s manufacturing expertise and global scale with Thinfilm’s ability to print circuits on thin, flexible substrates—to create the world’s only printed rewriteable non-volatile memory. This proves that strategic alliances are essential to the success of any company, especially in IoT.

2. Scaling
If you’re looking to scale your project and see if your ideas will translate to an entire city, then consider teaming up with centres that are part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). These centres have the resources to aid entrepreneurs with their solutions, either through workshops, grants, and mentorship programs to scale their offering.

For example, SMATS, a hardware and software provider that collects and analyzes traffic data, approached the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) to scale their project. The OCE have their own private network where they allow companies to come in and test on a bigger scale, and see if it produces viable results that brings entrepreneurs onto the next step. Through the OCE’s network, SMATS was able to capture information on city traffic lights that could sense traffic loads and patterns, and trigger signals accordingly. The project was deemed a success and their sensors were installed on traffic lights all over the city.

3. Venture Capital
IoT solutions are becoming a pivotal part of many venture capitalists’ and investment funds’ portfolios. As stated earlier, the United States alone has seen $125 billion invested in IoT technology and with the Canadian tech scene exploding, the market for IoT in Canada is expected to reach 6.5 billion by 2018. Funding for these companies are not only coming from venture capitalist firms in Canada and the government, but those from the US are also expressing their interest. It’s no secret that US tech giants are hiring heavily in Canada, but they’ve also started making strategic investments in Canadian start-ups too. Intel invested in Thalmic Labs and Microsoft funded Element AI, which both took place in late last year.
Funding doesn’t come easy but with the government’s support of investing into newer, cleaner, and innovative technologies it won’t be a problem for those with the potential to make a positive change here in the Canadian tech ecosystem. Tech companies are making a big splash, and those around the world are taking notice, especially from the US.

Great success comes with alliances and partnerships that thrust the company forward. In all these areas— manufacturing, scaling, and funding— it’s about finding the right piece of the puzzle that completes the picture. IoT is all about taking your expertise and combining it with the expertise of others, to bring forth a complete solution.

I hope these insights give you a better idea of what it takes to commercialize your solutions, what kind of technologies are out there, and who to partner with to ensure your success.

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