Motorola Inc., through Motorola Ventures, its strategic venture capital arm, announced on July 1 an investment in Apprion Inc., a Moffett Field, Calif.-based provider of open industrial wireless networks and applications. Motorola, based in Schaumburg, Ill., is a major supplier of consumer and commercial wireless communication technologies, including cellular phones and walkie-talkies. The amount of the Motorola investment in Apprion was not disclosed. But with the Motorola Ventures investment, Apprion said it has raised more than $23.5 million.
“Over the last decade, wireless technologies have radically changed how we live. Over the next decade, we expect to see wireless technologies transform manufacturing by the same magnitude,” said John O’Donohue, managing director of Motorola Ventures. “Apprion delivers the right combination of technology, products, and industrial experience to uniquely address the wireless challenges of industrial customers. Both their growth trajectory and excellent track record demonstrate that the company is a driving force in industrial wireless solutions.”
“We are delighted to be entering into a strategic relationship with Motorola,” said Mike Bradley Sr., chief executive officer and president of Apprion. “Motorola is the industry standard in providing wireless solutions to manufacturing. Together, Motorola and Apprion will be able to forge a path for the next generation of integrated wireless networks and applications that will unlock plant performance while delivering enhanced safety and security.”
Bradley told Automation World that in addition to the funding, Apprion will have access to some technology from Motorola. Add this to the existing investment from Chevron, and Apprion expects to be coming out with its next generation products.
Apprion marries diverse wireless networks into one overarching system. So, on the one hand, according to Bradley, it is very complementary to the work going on with the pending ISA100 wireless industrial standard from the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society, and with the WirelessHart standard promulgated by the Hart Communication Foundation. As these sensor-level systems proliferate, and then mobile asset management, mobile workers, wireless video transmission and more are added, the overall system must be managed. That, Bradley said, is where Apprion comes in.
Apprion’s current generation Ion System is designed to allow industrial facilities to cost-effectively deploy and manage multiple wireless applications as one unified, integrated system. The Ion System consists of the Apprion IONosphere and IONizers. The IONosphere is an on-site controller that manages data services, workflow, security, monitoring and maintenance, and third-party application integration across wireless plant networks. Apprion's IONizer is billed as the process industry's first industrial-grade, multi-radio frequency, wireless network appliance. IONizers are designed to cost-effectively integrate and secure previously stand-alone wireless-enabled applications, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and condition monitoring.
Motorola Ventures completes Apprion’s existing Series B round of financing, led by Anvil Investment Associates LP, Dallas. Strategic investor, CTTV Investments LLC, the venture capital arm of Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, and Series A investors Advanced Technology Ventures (ATV) and Allegis Capital, both with offices in Palo Alto, Calif., also participated in Series B.