Battelle Invests in Developer of Nonfixed, Wireless-LAN ProductsJuly 24, 2006
Rajant's BreadCrumb nodes can be used to create instant networks, supporting various WiFi-compatible client devices, such as sensors, mobile and voice-over-IP phones, laptops, PDAs, and digital radios.
PRINCETON, NJ /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- Battelle Ventures L.P. and its affiliate, Innovation Valley Partners, are the sole investors in the $3.25 million Series B financing of Rajant Corp., the developer of nonfixed-wireless-LAN products that create an instant lifeline to the world in areas where fixed networks are destroyed, temporarily out of service, or simply impractical.
This is the first institutional round of funding for the company, based in Malvern, PA. In 2002, Rajant raised $2.8 million, with $2.6 million from private investors and $200,000 from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Explains Rajant CEO Robert Schena: "Rajant has engineered a line of portable battery-powered units called BreadCrumbs that can create secure wireless mobile networks at the flip of a switch. The moveable units are the access points, so the network is not wired or fixed.
"The time it takes to get the network up and running is equal to the time it takes to physically drop the BreadCrumb units along a desired communication path," adds Schena, whose previously founded company, FutureVision of America, which developed and deployed the nation's first commercial ATM, switched-digital, fiber-to-the-curb network, was successfully sold to Bell Atlantic in 1996. "Once the BreadCrumb units are in place, the switches are turned on, and the network is ready to be used. It's that fast."
Says Battelle Ventures general partner Kef Kasdin: "A Rajant nonfixed wireless network should not be confused with a mesh network, which relies on specialized clients and needs to be physically attached to a fixed network infrastructure to provide communication beyond its own network. "The beauty of the Rajant network," she adds, "is that it derives its connectivity from the small but rugged BreadCrumb units that run on any type of battery, can be quickly and easily set up, and do not need a wired access point to connect to the outside world.
"Each of the Rajant BreadCrumb units, which come in a variety of sizes and configurations, is a network node," says Kasdin, who joins the Rajant board of directors along with Battelle Ventures general partner Ralph Taylor-Smith. "One unit or a series of them can be used to create an instant network, supporting a wide variety of WiFi-compatible client devices, such as mobile and voice-over-IP phones, laptops, PDAs, sensors, cameras, and digital radios."
Kasdin, who says that the firm was introduced to Rajant by Battelle Memorial Institute, adds, "There is virtually no limit to the area that a BreadCrumb network can cover. The more BreadCrumb units you turn on, whether dropped on buildings, placed in trucks, or located on the ground, the wider the area covered." As a point of reference, she offers, "Using just three BreadCrumb units and two laptops, a 14-mile network can be put into operation within minutes."
Noting that information technology and homeland security are key sectors for the firm's investments, Kasdin says, "Rajant meets a strong market need, repeatedly demonstrated by emergencies, military necessity, and disasters. Recent events have tragically illustrated what can happen when the fixed communications networks we rely on are rendered non-operational."
Battelle Ventures, adds Kasdin, "believes that the company, which has been generating revenue since 2003, has powerful differentiators and a strong management team, and, with the involvement of Battelle Science & Technology International (BSTI), is well positioned for accelerated success." BSTI can open doors, she says, to public-sector customers, as well as contribute additional wireless technology and systems-integration expertise to the company.
The BreadCrumb idea grew out of the events of 9-11, explains Rajant CEO Schena, when communication infrastructure was destroyed or simply failed. At the time, he says, "Rajant was developing larger products for a truck-mounted network but changed its focus in response to U.S. military requests for a quickly deployable, wireless, mobile network with small but powerful nodes that could be dropped along a path or within a specified area 'like breadcrumbs.'"
Schena points out that instant Rajant BreadCrumb networks were deployed post-tsunami, in Phuket, Thailand, to establish a wireless network in one of the major relief centers, and post-Katrina, in New Orleans, where wireless connectivity was brought to Touro Hospital. He says units are now in use by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan and have been purchased by the Australian military; the cities of Toronto, Canada, and Anaheim, CA.; the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency; the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority; the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey; the Honolulu Sheriff's Office; and the Polk County, Florida, Sheriff's Office.
The Series B proceeds, says Schena, will fund working capital and accelerate production to meet demand, as well as support additional product development in response to the needs of potential users. "Instead of the linear approach we had been taking, we'll now be able to simultaneously develop multiple products and multiple markets," he says.
About Battelle Ventures
Battelle Ventures L.P. is an independent $150 million venture fund that invests in technology companies at many early stages of development. The fund, which is based in Princeton, NJ, and its $35 million affiliate fund, Innovation Valley Partners, which is based in Tennessee, actively seek to invest in companies in the following five key areas: information technology, homeland security, life sciences, energy, and advanced materials/nanotechnology. Battelle Ventures enhances and adds value to its portfolio companies by leveraging the technologies and expertise of Battelle Memorial Institute and the National Laboratories it manages or co-manages for the Department of Energy. For more information about Battelle Ventures, go to the company's Web site.
For more information about Rajant Corp., go to the corporation's Web site.
Battelle Ventures and Innovation Valley Partners are registered trademarks of BVP Partners LLC. The names of actual companies and/or products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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