Toronto’s BehrTech scores $3 million funding grant to help displace Wi-Fi in IoT

The Toronto startup is the worldwide licensee to commercialize the MIOTY network protocol, which has scalability and signal interpretation advantages over WiFi. BehrTech is selling this entirely through channel partners.

Today, Toronto-based startup BehrTech is announcing that they have been awarded more than $3 million from a joint funding program through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada [NSERC] and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The plan is to use the money to create and staff an Industrial Internet of Things [IIoT] lab to develop and integrate new IIoT sensors and test them in their development stage.

For the channel, this is important because BehrTech has the worldwide license to take the MIOTY protocol to market for broad industrial and commercial uses throughout the globe – which they will do entirely through channel partners.

MIOTY is an LPWAN [Low-Power Wide Area Networks] protocol which leverages LPWAN’s ability to connect an enormous number of sensors. MIOTY’s distinction is its ability to work with weak signals, splitting them up into smaller packets to get through obstacles or interference, and then reassembling the subpackets at the destination.  While it can’t transmit at the bitrate of Wi-Fi, it can interpret signals that Wi-Fi can’t, and can scale to cover much wider ranges.

Albert Behr, BehrTech’s CEO

“This has been in development for over a decade in Germany, by Frauenhofer, and is an adaptation of what the tech was originally designed for, in the same way that GPS was originally designed for the military, not for consumers driving around,” said Albert Behr, BehrTech’s CEO. “Frauenhofer designed it for the remote reading of water meters, which in many older German houses, are three stone floors down. When Frauenhofer hired me, I realized this has broad and deep implications in commercial and industrial markets. In 30 years in technology, I’ve never seen the crazy things this does.”

Accordingly, BehrTech was formed two years ago as the worldwide licensee of the Fraunhofer MIOTY technology, to fully commercialize the MIOTY protocol.

“We have been quietly building MYTHINGS, our end-to-end service delivery platform, at our offices at York Mills and Yonge [uptown Toronto],” Behr indicated. “We also opened an office on Day One in Germany as a subsidiary of ours.”

Behr provided an example of what this can do for customers.

“We have a customer in downtown Toronto, in one of the huge office buildings there,” he said. “They want to be able to track people as they return to working in offices. They were looking on trying to do this on Wi-Fi, and on the main floor they would have had to put in 50 Wi-Fi APs. They took one of our gateways – an Intel i3, which is basically a cheap box – and it covered 3 kilometres around the building, while sitting under 8 inches of marble.”

Verticals are the key to the company’s Go-to-Market strategy, both in the types of prospects they target, and in the channel partners who are BehrTech’s sole route to market.

“We started with mining and oil and gas, with the logic that if we can get this to run a mile down, we can get it to work in a parking lot,” Behr said. “The collapse of the oil market was a good thing for us, because we optimize resources and that’s important when oil is $25 a barrel.” Manufacturing, Smart Buildings, metropolitan area networks, and retail are other significant plays.

“We just signed an enormous deal with some cool announcements coming across major metros,” Behr noted.

“We have strong relationships with integrators – the ones who deliver these customers their fibre backbones,” Behr said. “SIs and VARs have those trusted relationships, and we work with these verticalized partners. Some are big and some are smaller, but they have specialized expertise in things like building management. Originally, we started going to market horizontally through our relationship with Microsoft, but nothing replaces the vertical expertise and trust from those relationships.”

Behr emphasized that this expertise makes a 100% channel strategy a no-brainer for them.

“We do zero direct deals,” he said. “The only way we can be successful is through SIs. We’ve all been to this dance before on selling networking infrastructure.”

Behr emphasized that the potential of the MIOTY technology sets BehrTech up well to be the next Canadian tech star.

“COVID-19 was the last accelerant that caused business to explode in the last two months, because of our ability to remotely sense things,” he said. “I am tickled pink we have been able to do what we have done, and hopefully will create an enormous Canadian technology company in very short order.”

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