Billion-dollar giant acquires LiU spin-off

It started as a hobby project while working in research at Linköping University. Now the six founders of the Senion company are selling it to the American telecommunications giant Verizon.

Picture of a map and a ipad in the corridors of Linköping University. The first steps towards what would later become Senion were taken in the corridors of Linköping University. This photo is from the research period around 2009.

Senion Lab was founded eleven years ago by researchers from the Department of Electrical Engineering at Linköping University. It arose from their experience of how difficult it was to find their way around all the lecture theatres, and remember where everyone’s office was.

They speculated that it would be possible to use their research within sensor fusion to create a solution for indoor positioning. No sooner said than done, and Senion Lab was in place, developing a system that can be thought of as indoor GPS. With the company’s software installed on a smartphone, it’s easy to navigate simply and accurately indoors.

Sensor fusion research

The company name derives from an abbreviation of “sensor fusion”, a research field in which data are combined from a large number of sensors. This gives information of higher quality than can be achieved with a single sensor, or that otherwise would require more expensive solutions.

The sensor fusion research group is part of the Division for Automatic Control at Linköping University. This field of research has existed since 1995, and has since then become an important component in many research contexts.

A breakthrough, a new name and a new direction

The company achieved something of a breakthrough in 2012, when an Asian telecommunications company purchased the Senion system for around 70 shopping centres. The technology now helped customers find shops simply and correctly. Stories about the technology spread, and a couple of years later the company removed “Lab” from its name to become “Senion”. The system by now had been sold to 35 countries all over the world.

Around this time, the company started to discuss other possible uses for the technology. One of these was a solution for companies with many offices and many employees. With the aid of indoor positioning systems (IPS), a system was developed that uses office space in the best and most efficient way.

Employee meetings and room bookings can, for example, be synced against an individual’s calendar, and in this way show that a room has become free earlier than planned, if the person leaves the meeting room before the specified time.

Bought up by Verizon

Picture of Christian Lundquist, managing director of Senion.From PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering to managing director for Senion. Christian Lundquist and his previous research colleagues are selling the company to telecommunications company Verizon. Photo credit: CrelleThe founders are now selling the company to telecommunication giant Verizon, led by Swedish managing director Hans Vestberg. Even though the company will now become American-owned, Senion plans to continue operating from Linköping.

“We plan to remain in Linköping, and will even expand the office, with the aid of investments from Verizon”, says managing director Christian Lundquist.

Translation from Swedish: George Farrants

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