French network management firm eyes vast Internet of Things grids

By Eric Auchard

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Actility, a supplier of software used to manage far-flung sensor networks dubbed the Internet of Things, said on Tuesday it has taken $25 million in new funding from top European telecom operators and the world's largest contract electronics maker.

The financing round is led by Ginko Ventures, which is in turn backed by Taiwan's Foxconn Technology, the world's largest electronics manufacturer, along with telecom operators KPN, Orange and Swisscom.

Paris-based Actility said the investment would allow it to accelerate marketing of its network management platform for running massive, citywide or even national networks of connected objects, known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

The five-year-old company's IoT platform, called ThingPark, enables a wide range of objects - from electric meters to farm machinery to transportation fleets - to be hooked up to operator-run networks and managed as one grid.

ThingPark allows millions of networked devices connected to city or nationwide communications grids to operate over long distances, use low-power batteries, keep network operating costs low and maintenance requirements down, it said.

It works according to a recent standard for Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) radio networks set by the LoRa Alliance, which was set up in March and has attracted 300 corporate members. ThingPark is open to a wide variety of vendors who are looking to build and plug-in IoT applications to operator-run networks.

The new corporate funders join existing French and Swiss-based investors BPI France Investissement, Idinvest Partners, and Truffle Capital.

(Reporting by Eric Auchard; editing by Susan Thomas)