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Nokia names industrial automation startup HaiLa winner of the 2019 Nokia Open Innovation Challenge

Press Release

Nokia names industrial automation startup HaiLa winner of the 2019 Nokia Open Innovation Challenge

21 November 2019

Espoo, Finland – Nokia today announced that Canadian startup company HaiLa, which offers technologies that can drastically reduce energy consumption for Internet of Things devices, has won the 2019 Nokia Open Innovation Challenge. HaiLa was awarded 100,000 in financial resources and will be given access to researchers and product development teams at Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs to position it for business growth as the world moves towards industrial automation enabled by 5G networks.

HaiLa beat out more than 200 other startups from 70 countries around the world that competed in this year’s competition, which involved several assessment rounds. The company and four other finalists gave presentations and demonstrations at a grand finals event held today at Nokia’s global headquarters. German startup Wandelbots finished in second place.

Located in Montreal, HaiLa’s technology enables IoT device data to hitchhike on ambient waves, drastically reducing IoT power consumption. HaiLa's technology allows reuse of the ambient signals in the environment and simply backscatter the modulated data on top, eliminating the necessity for dedicated single tone transmitters, making the technology easier to integrate with the existing infrastructure and reduce IoT power consumption.

The Nokia Open Innovation Challenge continues Nokia’s proud heritage in investing in new technologies. As a key component of the competition is the ability of the startups to work with Nokia, HaiLa and Wandelbots will also have the opportunity to collaborate with Nokia Bell Labs researchers to enrich Nokia’s end-to-end 5G network architecture with the startups’ innovative use cases. Nokia has complete build-outs of its end-to-end network, complete with network slicing, at Future X Labs in Espoo and Murray Hill, NJ.  

This year’s Nokia Open Innovation Challenge, which was launched in April, sought out startups with disruptive ideas in industrial automation categories that would help bring about Industry 4.0. The competition was organized by Nokia Bell Labs in partnership with NGP Capital, a global venture capital firm, backed by Nokia. This year marks the seventh year of the annual competition.

Charlotte Savage, Founder of HaiLa, said, “Such an honor to be chosen as the winner, thank you to Nokia for this incredible opportunity. However, this was never about the competition. The goal was to establish a real partnership with one of the leaders of the networking industry to enable sustainable wireless communication. We look forward to be at the forefront of carbon emission reduction with Nokia.”

Marcus Weldon, President of Nokia Bell Labs and Corporate CTO of Nokia, said, “We’re on the verge of an industrial revolution, enabled by 5G networks that will unleash significant new levels of productivity and value for enterprises and industries. This year’s Nokia Open Innovation Challenge was designed to nurture innovative new solutions in automation, robotics and human augmentation, which are foundational to this revolution. I would like to congratulate HaiLa on their innovative solution to reduce energy consumption for IoT devices, as well as all the other finalists. We look forward to deepening our collaboration to create this exciting future together.”

Bo Ilsoe, Partner of NGP Capital, said, “It was a great pleasure to work with so many talented entrepreneurs and companies. A winner had to be chosen, but everyone participating deserves success on their future path. NGP is a proud partner of the Nokia Open Innovation Challenge.”

The other finalists that competed in today’s event included:

Wandelbots: Germany-based Wandelbots, which won second place and €50,000, is democratizing industrial robotics by enabling anyone to program any robot via smart input devices and example-based teaching. Wandelbots is the first company to offer a technology that allows industrial robots to be trained by laypeople which helps bringing down the time and financial resources needed for both small- and large-scale automatization projects. This means that Wandelbots is at the forefront of a growing market segment that works towards making robotics available to more users worldwide.

ControlThings: Based in Finland, ControlThings offers a middleware technology for recording Verifiable Audit Trails using crypto identities in devices and user interfaces. The benefits of the local ledger technology that ControlThings uses in Verifiable Audit Trails is privacy and scalability. The ControlThings' unique solution scales up to any sizes of networks and provides edge computing, with no required central point of control. The security model allows authentication and communication even in an "off-line" situation.

Maxst: Based in South Korea, Maxst offers an augmented reality (AR) engine and visual SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping). Maxst’s platform enables authoring of AR contents easily online with drag-and-drop interface and a rich media contents library. This will expand the target users from AR app developers to general designers or marketers without coding language expertise requirements. Maxst will completely convert the developer-oriented AR SDK ecosystem into a SaaS AR platform. Hence, the company can significantly reduce development cost as Maxst’s AR platform offers a holistic AR experience with a subscription-based software on cloud.

SanNoor: Located in Saudi Arabia, SaNoor Technologies is developing laser-based visible light communication devices and systems for high-speed, energy-saving, eco-friendly, and secure wireless data communications. SaNoor is addressing the immediate high demand for high bitrate underwater wireless link for environmental monitoring, asset management, process flow automation, and many other industrial applications. Combining laser lighting and data communication functionalities in one system, SaNoor Laser LiFi offers 50x longer transmission distance and 100x higher data rates compared to conventional LED technology.

Today’s event provided each of the finalists with the opportunity to pitch their businesses and demonstrate their products before an audience and selection jury chaired by Weldon and comprised of Ilsoe, Sanjay Goel, Nokia’s President of Global Services, Finnish business leader Peter Vesterbacka, as well as Nokia’s Jean-Luc Beylat and Stephan Litjens. The event also included presentations on how startups can best grow their businesses, including a keynote from Vesterbacka. Katrin Bacic, Head of Venture Development for Wayra, the open innovation hub of Telefónica, was a guest panelist for a discussion on entrepreneurship and innovation with Weldon, Ilsoe and Beylat.


About Nokia
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About Nokia Bell Labs
Nokia Bell Labs is the world-renowned industrial research arm of Nokia. Over its more than 90-year history, Bell Labs has invented many of the foundational technologies that underpin information and communications networks and all digital devices and systems. This research has resulted in 9 Nobel Prizes, three Turing Awards, three Japan Prizes, a plethora of National Medals of Science and Engineering, as well as an Oscar, two Grammy awards and an Emmy award for technical innovation. For more information, visit

About NGP Capital
NGP Capital is a globally engaged venture capital firm backing growth-stage and revenue generating technology companies that will shape and power a fully connected world. By operating one, global fund with over $1 billion under management, we extend the reach of our companies via on-the-ground teams in U.S., Europe, India and China making our portfolio company products and services local everywhere.

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