Smart antenna wins £3.4M first round funding

UK-based Antenova has secured £3.4m of venture capital to fund its ‘smart’ directional antenna technology for mobile communications.

UK-based Antenova has secured £3.4m of venture capital to fund its ‘smart’ directional antenna technology for mobile communications, from a consortium led by Cambridge Gateway Fund.

The company’s technology has the potential to multiply the capacity of third-generation networks while simultaneously shrinking the size of phone handsets and basestations. It additionally minimises any risks to health from RF radiation by blocking transmissions in the direction of a user’s head – or in the case of basestations, sensitive nearby locations such as schools.

The venture capital consortium comprises Cambridge Gateway Fund, NIF (Nippon Investment Fund), Quester, FNI – the fund of the Nixdorf family – and the venture arm of the telecommunications consultancy Analysys. Alan Barrell of Cambridge Gateway Fund and Jamie Brooke of Quester are to join the Antenova board of directors.

The funding round will allow Antenova to develop prototypes of its product ideas, which include antennas for 2, 2.5 and 3G mobile phones and basestations, and micro-miniature antennas for the fast-growing Bluetooth market. The company’s first working prototypes should be available before the end of 2001.

Antenova owns the intellectual property to a directional and steerable antenna for wireless communications developed at the universities of Sheffield, UK and Griffith (Brisbane), Australia. The technology increases performance – and dramatically reduces size and power consumption – by providing a completely solid-state solution for controlling the direction of transmissions.

Based on new materials and principles of operation, it enables designers to enhance performance at higher frequency bands that are coming into use with international standards such as Bluetooth and 3G.

Because the antenna is electronically steerable, it allows the capacity of communications networks to be multiplied by means of spatial multiplexing – transmitting in specific segments rather than radially – making the huge prices paid for 3G frequency spectrum much better value for example.

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