Orange Digital Ventures invests in Actility

Orange is investing in Actility alongside several other companies, including Ginko Ventures, the European investment fund of Foxconn, the telcos KPN and Swisscom, BPI, Electranova and Truffle. In total, the consortium is investing 22.5 million euros in Actility.

The investment will allow Actility to accelerate its go-to-market strategy for ThingPark, its open standard IoT network solution; funding its operational resources, building a high level of service and continuing to develop technology partnerships to foster a healthy ecosystem.

A fully integrated platform for nationwide IoT, Actility’s ThingPark™ is designed to enable IoT services for any market sector, offering ready-to-go IoT connectivity plus a full set of ready-to-sell applications in less than one month. It is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) radio network built on the LoRaWAN™ standard, developed and supported by the LoRa™ Alliance. LoRaWAN networks address the three critical elements required for IoT networks connecting billions of devices: low power, long range, and low cost. ThingPark represents the first end-to-end, LoRaWAN interoperable platform to serve the IoT market for every use case.
ThingPark, Actility’s complete solution for nationwide IoT networks, has been released by Actility in full production mode. ThingPark is designed to enable IoT services for any market sector, offering ready-to-go IoT connectivity plus a full set of ready-to-sell applications in less than one month. A fully integrated platform for nationwide IoT, Actility’s ThingPark is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network built on the LoRaWAN standard, developed and supported by the LoRa™ Alliance. LoRaWAN networks address the three critical elements required for IoT networks connecting billions of devices: low power, long range and low cost.

Today’s wireless technologies are not optimized for IoT applications which require sensors to be low power and able to run on a battery with very little maintenance (five to 15 years battery life on average). Actility’s ThingPark provides the technology to connect both long range and low power sensors. ThingPark uses unlicensed ISM band spectrum, allowing low cost and fast roll-out of IoT networks to accommodate industrial and consumer sensors for a wide range of IoT applications. ThingPark makes it possible to reliably transmit low data rate signals up to 15km at low cost.

As a strategic investor, Orange Digital Ventures will be represented both on Actility’s Board of Directors and its Strategic advisory committee, enabling the company to benefit from the Orange Group’s technological and commercial expertise, and to ensure the coherence of its development with ongoing initiatives in the Group concerning connected objects.

Pierre Louette, Orange’s Deputy CEO who is also responsible for Orange Digital Ventures said: “Actility’s connected objects platform is based on bringing together its open service approach with the power of networks. This clearly corresponds to the ambition of Orange Digital Ventures to invest in actors that are developing innovative digital services that contribute to change our customers experience and answer the changing desires and needs of our customers. The Internet of Things is an extremely promising new market and it is important for Orange to support the start-ups and developers who are currently working on services that will become part of our future.”

Orange Digital Ventures identifies and funds early-stage start-ups during their initial development. With 20 million Euros earmarked for its first year, Orange Digital Ventures proceeds by making investments via minority holdings. The focus of is on financing those start-ups working on the new and next transformations of the telecoms and digital sectors, through innovation, disruptive technologies or new business models. Orange Digital Ventures will support in particular start-ups in the fields of new Connectivities, Enterprise Cloud and data, the Internet of Things, and Fintech, from any geographical area.

Orange invests in Afrimarket, the leading start up in cash-to-goods money transfers

This investment comes a few months after Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange, announced that the Group and the start-up had entered into a commercial partnership. In addition to this investment, Orange will participate in the development of Afrimarket by sharing market knowledge and the many benefits of an international mobile operator with a strong brand notoriety.

Money transfers in the form of "cash-to-goods" enables people in Europe to pay directly for everyday goods or services (food, healthcare, education, etc.) in partner retail outlets for contacts living in Africa. This type of service has grown into one of the most promising segments in the international money transfer market. In choosing how he or she wants to help his family and friends, the user also pays lower fees compared to traditional solutions and can be sure of the quality of the end-products purchased with the funds.

Three young entrepreneurs – Rania Belkahia, Jeremy Stoss and François Sevaistre – founded Afrimarket less than two years ago in France. The start-up has grown quickly, aided by an innovative business model and broad knowledge of cross-border transfers and African immigrant populations in Europe.

The decision to take a minority stake in the company reflects Orange’s new strategy of funding start-ups through vehicles such as Orange Digital Ventures. The investment is also the first one to be made in a start-up that has gone through the “Orange Fab” acceleration program.

For Pierre Louette, Deputy CEO of Orange, “Afrimarket is a start-up in the development phase with an original and promising offer. It's a good example of the type of project that our new Orange Digital Ventures fund is interested in investing in. We’re supplementing Orange’s existing open innovation initiatives, such as Orange Fab”.