LONDON Capitalizing on the increasing interest in and demand for smart energy/grid initiatives, ZigBee chip specialist Ember Corporation ( Boston, Mass. and Cambridge, England) has closed a funding round of $8 million that brings the company's total funding to $89 million.
Emberís ZigBee wireless networking chips and software are embedded into many smart meters creating a 2-way digital communications network.
Existing VC investors that participated in the latest round included Polaris Venture Partners, GrandBanks Capital, RRE Ventures, Vulcan Capital, DFJ ePlanet Ventures, New Atlantic Ventures, WestLB Mellon Asset Management (formerly West AM), as well as strategic partners such as Chevron Technology Ventures and Stata Venture Partners.
Other significant investors in Ember include STMicroelectronics, Hitachi Corporation and MIT.
"ZigBee standards extend the developing 'smart grid' out to the billions of devices, appliances and equipment where most energy efficiency goals will be achieved," said Ember chairman and Polaris Partner Bob Metcalfe. "Smart meters now being equipped with ZigBee-standard Ember radio chips and protocol software are serving as energy management gateways between utilities and consumers."
Robert LeFort, Ember's CEO, added: "This additional funding enables Ember to march forward on its strong growth path as its technology gets deployed in many smart grid applications around the world.Ē
The market for 802.15.4/ZigBee devices is expected to reach 292 million units in 2012, up from about 7 million units in 2007, according to research firm, In-Stat.
Ember has also expanded its sales channels with the addition of distributors in Australia, New Zealand, India and Hong Kong, Peopleís Republic of China.
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