Clean Energy Finance Corporation invests AU$10m in IoT network vendor Thinxtra

The government has acquired 15 percent of the Sydney-based IoT company.

The Australian government's Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has announced a AU$10 million investment in Sydney-based IoT network builder Thinxtra, in exchange for 15 percent equity.

CEFC's investment, through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, is part of Thinxtra's AU$20 million Series B round, valuing the company at about AU$66 million.

In April last year, Thinxtra obtained the licence to roll out French vendor Sigfox's low-powered, wide area network (LPWAN) technology in Australia and New Zealand, with the aim of covering 95 percent of the ANZ population by the end of 2017.

Sigfox's LPWAN, which currently covers more than 70 percent of the Australian population, operates independently of telecommunications vendors' IoT networks such as Telstra's LTE-based network, but connects to them for data backhaul.

CEFC said it invested in Thinxtra to help scale the rollout of its IoT network, which the government-backed green bank believes will help cut energy use.

"Australia is a vast country with a scattered population. A large amount of energy is expended in physically monitoring millions of pallets, waste containers, gas canisters, farm gates, livestock and more. By providing a low-cost solution for tracking and monitoring these assets, we can save a huge amount of emissions," CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said in a statement.

"Our finance for Thinxtra will help build essential support technology which is set to play a key role in transitioning the Australian economy to net zero emissions by the second half of the century.

"We're talking about the potential to operate smarter cities, more energy efficient and liveable buildings, better monitoring of environmental assets, better health monitoring, and more sustainable agricultural practices."

CEFC investment development director Blair Pritchard likened connecting devices such as GPS locators, temperature sensors, and water meters to existing internet services to "using a four-lane highway when a footpath would suffice, or hiring a whole bus to send one person to the shops."

"Thinxtra's LPWAN technology requires far less power and provides much longer battery life for devices that only require the transmission of small amounts of data and intermittent internet connectivity," Pritchard said.

"This low-cost technology will make it economically viable to connect a vast number of lower-value assets to a network over great distances. We see it as an important addition to the rapidly developing IoT ecosystem."

Backed by New Zealand technology company Rakon, Thinxtra's primary use cases include meter index readings, quality measurement, GPS, temperature, movement, access, vibration, and power status.

By 2022, Thinxtra aims to connect 17 million devices to its network. It claims more than 150 local businesses have partnered with the company.

In May, cloud services provider TasmaNet announced securing a partnership with Thinxtra to make the island-state of Tasmania "IoT-ready". Up to 55 communications towers will be rolled out across Tasmania by the third quarter of this year, with TasmaNet looking to provide access to its towers, its network for backhaul, and its engineers for ongoing maintenance and support of the sensory network.

The network is expected to enable the use of devices including smart meters, temperature probes for aquaculture, GPS trackers for agriculture assets, and development kits with free connectivity for most schools in the state.

ATF Services' wireless monitoring devices for construction sites is also being connected to Sigfox's LPWAN as part of the site safety company's partnership with Thinxtra.

Water conservation consultancy firm WaterGroup also signed a five-year partnership with Thinxtra that will see its smart water meters connected with Sigfox's LPWAN.

Thinxtra is headquartered in the Sydney suburb of Alexandria, with additional offices in Auckland and Hong Kong.

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