NOWI: A startup story about connecting the future
Twenty-three billion. About this many were the connected devices in the world in 2018, and this number is not here to stay: In less than a decade, it is expected to triple. That is a good 75 billion devices, connected and in need of constant supply of power.
The team of NOWI figured that using cables and changing batteries would soon become overwhelming – to say the least, so they created a solution – a small chip that enables Internet of Things devices to live forever. Instead of needing to continuously bring energy to connected devices in the form of cables and battery changes, NOWI’s technology enables companies to use the energy that is already available around the devices. This can be light, heat, movement or even radio waves.
The power of IoT technology
For co-founders Simon van der Jagt and Omar Link, the idea behind NOWI shaped up gradually while they studied Strategic Product Design at the TU Delft. The program gave them a kickstart: It taught them how to give meaning to technology and use it to solve problems. And so, Simon and Omar decided to apply their knowledge to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Today, technology is getting better, smaller and as energy efficient as ever before, so powering devices requires only a fraction of the energy that was needed decades ago. The question of how to harvest that power is one that Simon and Omar seem to have an answer to: by using the signals that are all around us.
“Energy is all around us. Even the light from lamps in an office, or the temperature difference between our skin and the air can generate enough power to sustain low-power devices. At the moment, frequencies [such as WiFi] are mostly used for communication, but they also send out power,” says Simon.
Growing with the help of industry experts
After a bit over a year of founding their company in July 2015, Simon and Omar became part of Yes!Delft’s program. At the time, their team consisted of five people, including a professor from TU Delft. Since then, they have won several international innovation awards and completed an investment round. Most recently, the company has secured a 1-million-euro investment from RVO – The Netherlands Enterprise Agency.
“YES!Delft is one of the highest rated incubators in Europe, and especially when it comes to hardware startups. It is really about problem-solving. There’s [also] so much knowledge walking around here, and that has been very valuable to us,” says Simon.
Since August 2015, the company has developed their proof-of-principle to a product-ready chip that has recently been combined with Huawei’s NB-IoT chip at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai.
Finding the right partners to collaborate with
From a startup, NOWI has grown to be a high-tech company with several pilot projects and collaborations established with market-leading companies in smart city applications, smart wearables and NB-IoT sensors.
In the fields of smart wearables, NOWI has caught the attention of Swiss watch manufacturer MMT. The world’s first Plug&ForgetTM smart watch which never requires user-charging can be achieved when the NOWI Power Module is integrated in the MMT smartwatch module.
Recently, NOWI also announced its collaboration with Huawei to create the first energy autonomous NB-IoT solution.
Together with seven patents in energy harvesting, NOWI has won several international innovation awards including the Accenture Innovation Awards, the Semiconductor Innovation Award from Chinese Advanced Semiconductor Association (CASA) and the IoT Innovation World Cup 2019.
A story with the potential to get bigger and better has just only started.
- July 2015: Company founded
- March 2016: Demo and proof of concept
- August 2016: Prototype ready
- November 2016: Won the Accenture Innovation Award
- May 2017: Won the Smart City Innovation Award
- August 2017: Smart City Pilot project with DEWA – Dubai
- October 2017: Smart Road Pilot project with BAM and T-Mobile
- March 2018: Received €5m Venture Capital investment
- October 2018: Collaboration with MMT to create the first hybrid smartwatch
- November 2018: Semiconductor innovation award from Chinese Advanced Semiconductor Association (CASA)
- January 2019: Raised €1 million from RVO – The Netherlands Enterprise Agency
- February 2019: Won the 2019 IoT Innovation World Cup Series – Industrial Category.
- March 2019: First hybrid smartwatch PMIC prototype
- June 2019: Collaboration with Huawei to create an energy autonomous NB-IoT Solution