Soracom raises new funds from major customers and collaborators in Japan
KDDI-owned IoT connectivity provider Soracom has announced new investment from six technology firms, including from two major IoT customers, in the form Nippon Gas (NICIGAS) and Sourcenext Corporation in the Japanese utility industry, as well as from Japan-based trio Hitachi, Secom, and Sony Group, and World Innovation Lab, a US-Japan venture capital firm and a repeat investor.
Soracom called the funding arrangement a “new partnership” to fuel growing enterprise demand for IoT connectivity. It stated: “This partnership includes new capital investment that will help Soracom to promote global IoT expansion in collaboration with its new investors, as well as enhance its existing IoT solutions based on customer feedback.”
The deal was announced last month. Soracom claims to “power” three million IoT devices worldwide, via its Soracom Air platform, supporting a combination of cellular IoT and Sigfox. It has added a million devices, it claims, for three years running; the figure was two million a year ago, and a million in 2019.
Following a takeover by KDDI in 2017, early growth was driven by a contract for 850,000 Sigfox-based retrofitted gas meters for NICIGAS in Japan, signed in 2019, and developed with Singapore-based UnaBiz and connected on KYOCERA’s Sigfox network in the country.
The project remains one of the largest IoT deployments in the smart utilities space. In 2018, UnaBiz raised over $10 million in a Series A funding round led by KDDI, via its SORACOM IoT fund. Taiwan-based UnaBiz opened an office in Tokyo last month.
Last month, the firm completed a proof of concept around integrated SIM (iSIM) technology in IoT devices, following work with chipmaker Sony Semiconductor (formerly Altair Semiconductor) and SIM specialist Kigen, recently spun-out of UK-based chip design company Arm. It hailed the work as an “innovation for the next shift to billions of IoT devices”.
A year ago, the company claimed around 60 percent of its installed devices use embedded SIM technology, a step down from iSIM and a step up from physical SIM cards, which comprised the rest of its IoT device base at the time. The company has just refocused its strategy to deliver a “full suite” of IoT solutions, also covering development tools, cloud integrations, and consulting and partnerships.
Soracom’s IoT connectivity platform is device, cloud, and bearer-agnostic, the company says. It said in a statement: “It provides everything the people, teams and organizations building tomorrow’s connected world need to connect any number of devices to their preferred cloud easily, affordably, and reliably, with complete network control, anywhere in the world.”
Ken Tamagawa, co-founder and chief executive at Soracom, said: “From day one, Soracom has been driving IoT adoption through IoT connectivity solutions that are easy to use and easy to scale. We aim to create a world in which every company and individual with ideas and passion can become an innovator that produces great services to improve society. That we have now merited investment from two of our customers as well as some of the largest electronics companies in the world shows that we are delivering on that promise to our customers.”