Innovision raises $9 million to fund NFC growth in mobile

AIM-listed Innovision Research & Technology has announced that it has secured funding of nearly $9 million (£5.4 million) from existing and new institutional investors to take advantage of its strong position in the growing near field communication (NFC) market.

The funding will be used to further develop and capitalise on opportunities for the company’s NFC intellectual property (IP) and tags and help consolidate its position as the foremost NFC IP technology developer.

Three new NFC contracts, a major RFID contract in China and a joint licensing deal with NXP, all secured in the first half of 2009, have provided a strong start to the year. In addition, the company has joined the Board of the NFC Forum, where the likes of Sony, Mastercard, Nokia and other global players are shaping the future of the technology.

Innovision has licensed its NFC technology to some of the world’s largest global semiconductor companies, already leaders in the wireless market, and is now working with them to incorporate its NFC IP into chips aimed at the mobile handset market.

Once they reach production, Innovision expects that each deal could generate significant royalty revenue streams over several years, securing the company’s NFC IP into NFC handsets shipped from 2012 onwards, and providing a solid foundation on which to market its tags to service the applications.

Ultimately, the company sees its tag technology enabling a multitude of applications and smart objects. In March this year, Innovision announced it is supplying NFC tags for mobile operator mobilkom Austria; and it has also deployed tags in NFC-enabled electronic photo frames and speakers developed by Parrot.

Innovision is also making progress in its planned entry into the Chinese market, winning its first significant RFID contract for supplying analogue technology, which will see two chips launch in 2010 in China for a major smartcard company. The firm has also sub-contracted manufacturing of its chips and complete tags within China, an important step in enhancing its position in the growing tag market in the country.

“The NFC market is getting very positive headlines, with statements from payment processors, mobile network operators and handset manufacturers,” commented David Wollen, CEO at Innovision. “As far as Innovision is concerned, our business model for NFC will continue to focus on propagating our IP with major semiconductor vendors for use in combo and other chips designed for the mobile handset, laptop and consumer device markets. We believe combo chips are a major growth area in handsets, combining multiple wireless functions, such as Bluetooth, WiFi, FM and GPS on a single chip.

“We’re very encouraged by the support and confidence in us that this funding from major institutional investors demonstrates, especially in what is still a relatively depressed market environment. Raising these funds gives us the headroom to take advantage of our strong position in key high-growth markets for both NFC and RFID technology,” Wollen added.

He continued: “With the market for contactless applications such as limited use ticketing continuing to develop both in domestic and international markets, we want to make sure we maximise our opportunities in this important space by continuing to move up the value chain and delivering value added solutions for targeted RFID applications.”