Wireless car charging tech pioneer HaloIPT is off to the UK after being acquired by mobile equipment heavyweight Qualcomm.
The University of Auckland spin-off company has invented a way of charging cars quickly and wirelessly by induction via a doormat-sized plate in the ground that matches a plate beneath the car.
Last week it was announced that its assets, technology and employees had been snapped up by Qualcomm; HaloIPT's staff will now join Qualcomm's European Innovation Development group based in the UK.
HaloIPT executive chairman John Miles said in the space of 18 months, it had brought "world-class university research to the attention of the global automotive industry".
Qualcomm has been investing in wireless power for years. Although it sells wireless equipment and software, it gets more profit from licensing wireless technologies – and licensing is what the company has in mind for HaloIPT’s award-winning technology, according to Andrew Gilbert, executive vice president of European Innovation Development.
"Building on 20 years of development and innovation in wireless power at The University of Auckland and its commercialisation company Auckland UniServices Ltd, the HaloIPT team, in a relatively short period of the time, had established itself as a leading developer in wireless electric road vehicle charging – with HaloIPT winning industry acclamation and awards.”
In addition to the multi-million HaloIPT transaction, Qualcomm and UniServices have committed to a long-term R&D arrangement to promote continued innovation in the field of wireless charging by way of inductive power transfer.
UniService will use the funds to invest in further research and commercialisation, and share a portion of the money with the inventors.
“We dealt with Qualcomm because of its track record in establishing the universal global standard for other technologies like mobile phones," said Peter Lee, chief executive at UniServices.
"This deal is fantastic news for New Zealand – we are providing access to technology in exchange for payments that will help ensure future investment in New Zealand research. There will be ample opportunity for New Zealand-based companies to become a part of the high-technology manufacturing required for these systems."
Qualcomm will be collaborating with the UK government, as well as the Mayor of London’s office and Transport for London, to deliver London's first pre-commercial trial of wireless electric car charging. The test run is expected to start in early 2012 and will involve as many as 50 electric vehicles (EVs).
Meanwhile, Trans Tasman Commercialisation Fund chief executive Andrew O'Brien welcomed the deal, saying it would enable HaloIPT's technology to be taken to world markets while delivering substantial returns on investment.
According to NZVIF chief executive Franceska Banga, the transaction is a textbook example of early-stage investment helping to take technology to market.
"HaloIPT needed an international partner to succeed with its unique technology," she said.
"Investors will receive healthy returns, including the University of Auckland, where the technology was developed.
"This is a very good outcome. Many niche New Zealand technology companies need to partner with major international firms in order to break into major markets. This HaloIPT deal achieves that while seeing significant benefits retained in New Zealand."