Antwerp, Belgium – Aloxy, a spin-off of imec and the University of Antwerp, that develops plug-and-play Internet of Things technology for the process and chemical industry, closes its Series A funding. A consortium of local Belgian investors, QBIC II, Innovation Fund, Engie Fabricom, The CoFoundry, Fidimec and the University of Antwerp have joined forces to invest € 2 Million in the early growth of Aloxy. In the coming year, the company will focus on getting its IoT solution ATEX-certified and start-up production for large-scale volumes.
“Qbic was happy to take the lead in bringing together the investment syndicate for this promising spin-off from two of our partners. The quality of the consortium highlights once again the excellence of the academic research conducted at our Belgian universities.” Sofie Baeten, managing partner Qbic II
The chemical – and the process industry in general – are facing an exciting challenge in the transition to the “Industry 4.0”, a new industrial era in which automation, big data and collaboration throughout the whole value chain are encouraging further optimization. To build specific solutions for the industry and facilitate this transition, imec and the University of Antwerp leveraged their low-power wireless IoT competences to create Aloxy in 2017 with the support of the imec.istart program. Maarten Weyn, Aloxy CTO and Professor at the University of Antwerp explains: “By closely collaborating with our customers at an early stage, we are able to create the best fit between their needs and our technology. Using IoT forces us to make decisions on the level of hardware, software, communication, integration and applications where we focus on adding value for our customers.”.
At the time of writing, Aloxy focusses on two specific solutions: remote monitoring of manual valves and tracking the status of individual parts and assets when a production process is halted for maintenance. “When the Aloxy team first pitched these ideas to the imec executive board, we immediately recognized the market potential of the technology and engaged in a research collaboration needed to develop the early prototypes,” stated Jo De Boeck, CTO at imec. “It’s great to see that innovative research results in practical market applications for Flanders and abroad.”
In November 2017, Aloxy was selected to take part in the Plant 4.0 incubator, an initiative from several major industrial players in the process industry. This led to the opportunity to test their first proof-of-concept in real operating environments. Currently, Aloxy is testing its solution to monitor manual valves with several partners in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain. These pilot projects are important for validating and further developing the solution.
The second application for the Aloxy technology is to monitor the status of individual parts and assets during shutdowns and regular maintenance. Aloxy’s solution enables to pinpoint the location of the parts, whether they are in the workshop for repair or in transit and allows local interaction with operators and inspectors. This kind of information is vital for assessing whether production can resume on time and maintenance is still on schedule. Bruno Depré, business developer and innovation & strategy manager at Engie Fabricom comments: “We invest in Aloxy because digital technologies will drive innovation in various maintenance activities in the process industry. Using the Aloxy technology, Engie Fabricom could further improve its service delivery to be even more efficient and customer-focused”.
During the Maintenance 2018 conference in March of this year, Aloxy received the Digital Innovation Award from the Belgian Maintenance Association (BEMAS). This award generated a great deal of visibility for Aloxy and boosted their credibility with investors.
“The next step for Aloxy is to develop our solution further and make it into a product that we can manufacture and roll out in volume. I’m very excited with the new investors that we have on board. They bring expertise both in hardware and software development and have a great understanding of the industry.” Jan Coppens, CEO Aloxy
Qbic is a seed and early-stage and sector agnostic inter-university fund investing in spin-offs and young innovating companies that have a technology link with Qbic’s partner universities and research institutions. Qbic is managed by an independent team of seasoned investment and business professionals. The first Qbic fund – Qbic I – has been incorporated in 2012 with a capital of € 40,7 million and invested in 18 companies. Qbic I is currently focusing on follow on investments and exits. The second Qbic fund – Qbic II – started in December 2016 and has a capital € of 58,9 million. With close to € 100 million under management, Qbic is one of the largest inter-university spin-off funds in Europe (www.qbic.be).
About Innovation Fund
Created in February 2015, Innovation Fund invests in innovative startups and companies active in the field of chemistry and life sciences. The fund has a capital of EUR 28 million, financed for more than 60% by major companies in the sector, bringing unique industrial support value to the investment projects. The remaining 40% is held by national and regional investment funds, universities and banks. To date, the Innovation Fund has already invested in 16 companies. (http://www.innovationfund.eu)
About Engie Fabricom
ENGIE Fabricom boasts over 60 years of experience and specialized installations know-how in Electrical & Instrumentation, Piping & Mechanical and Automation & Process Control. Our staff of over 5000 employees offers expert solutions in a variety of technical fields covering five major markets: Infrastructure, Tertiary, Industry, Energy, and Oil & Gas. As part of ENGIE Energy Services we offer you the strength of Europe’s leading energy services company. Quality, safety and a sustainable approach rank among our top priorities in all your projects. (http://www.engie-fabricom.com/)
About The CoFoundry
With a passion for innovation we help entrepreneurs transform their ideas into sustainable companies by funding them in a seed stage and by coaching them in the growth process. We aim for the long run rather than a fast monetary return. Some say we cut through the funding hype and work hard to give your business a sustainable future. (http://www.thecofoundry.co/)
Imec is the world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, energy and education. (www.imec-int.com)
The imec.istart program helps researchers, young entrepreneurs and start-ups to launch their business idea successfully: the program offers financial support, professional coaching and numerous working facilities to support start-ups. Depending on the maturity of the technology, the team’s experience and specific market characteristics, an imec.istart track typically takes 12 to 18 months. (www.imec-int.com/istart)
About University of Antwerp
The University of Antwerp is a young, dynamic and forward-thinking university. It integrates the assets of its historical roots with its ambition to contribute positively to society. The University of Antwerp develops, provides access to and disseminates scientific knowledge through research, teaching and academic service to the community and accomplishes these tasks in a spirit of academic freedom and responsibility. The University of Antwerp espouses active pluralism. In that spirit, it stimulates critical research and teaching, reflection and debate on scientific, social, philosophical and ethical questions. (www.uantwerpen.be)