A company using the Internet of Things to improve cost efficiencies for the public sector and other organisations is getting its growth plans underway with the help of a £150,000 Expansion Loan from the Enterprise M3 II Funding Escalator.
Using Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology, Barter for Things provides its customers with the means to transmit wirelessly, information that has historically been collected by people. More recognised wireless communication networks such as WiFi, Bluetooth or 3G/4G mobile are unsuitable for this type of data transmission either because they are too expensive, too power intensive or deliver over a short range. By contrast, LPWAN provides the means to communicate simple, low bit rate messages over distances of up to 3km in urban settings and 10km in rural locations, using very little power at a low cost.
Barter for Things works with its clients to custom build the required network infrastructure, i.e. masts and related technology, and integrates this with low power, long-life sensors placed at the data source. As an example, the company has been working with Southampton City Council (SCC) this year to install a network of nine aerial sites on council-owned tower blocks. The resulting LPWAN coverage can be used to transmit data from linked sensors across the whole city, meaning SCC can now use Internet of Things technology for a range of tasks in its social housing provision such as monitoring of water quality and checking of smoke alarms. This not only provides the potential for huge cost-savings by eliminating the need for monthly manual inspections, but also helps alleviate the administrative compliance burden while providing a better, proactive service for tenants.
CEO and Founder, Alex Barter, says: “The growth of the Internet of Things has been restricted by a lack of appropriate wireless network provision. To address this, we have taken a customer led approach to building and integrating systems that focus on meeting the needs of our clients and allow them to benefit from this growing technology and, by doing so, we have established a strong market position and are currently the only supplier delivering a fully managed LPWAN service. The Enterprise M3 loan will help us to take advantage of the opportunities we now face and expedite the growth of the business.”
James Edwards, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the EM3 II Funding Escalator on behalf of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), comments: “Barter for Things has made great progress across the Solent since its launch two and a half years ago and the management team are now looking to expand into a wider geographical area, becoming the market leader for LPWAN systems integration across the South and into the heart of the UK. We are delighted to be helping to fund the opening of a new office in Basingstoke and the recruitment of staff in this area, and we look forward to continuing to work with them as they grow.”
Kathy Slack, Director, Enterprise M3 LEP, comments: “Barter for Things is an exciting business on the cusp of even greater innovation. With its unique use of LPWAN, an energy and cost-efficient communications network, the company is a perfect candidate for expansion funding to enhance the Enterprise M3’s ambition of digital growth in a low carbon economy. As well as being the only supplier of a fully managed LPWAN service, the unique data collection service will reduce carbon emissions because the need for vehicle journeys will lessen.”
The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator II is £10million initiative funded by Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. The escalator, which includes an expansion loan scheme, a trade finance loan scheme and an equity growth fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £300,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities across the EM3 area.