Pivotal Commware is the fourth company incubated at Intellectual Ventures — a patent licensing company — that has a focus on metamaterials technology.
Bill Gates has backed another spinoff from Bellevue’s Intellectual Ventures, adding to his portfolio another communications company that uses metamaterials.
Pivotal Commware is the fourth company incubated at Intellectual Ventures — a patent licensing company — that has a focus on metamaterials technology, which involves components infused with properties not found in nature.
Pivotal announced a $17 million funding round Friday, led by The Thermo Companies and DIG Investment, with participation from Microsoft co-founder Gates, Lux Capital and real estate investor Barry Sternlicht.
The Bellevue-based startup uses a technology called “holographic beam forming” to deliver high-speed, highly efficient broadband connections to moving objects using radio waves.
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The company’s technology uses metamaterials within antennas to harness and control radio waves. Pivotal’s technology is able to focus radio waves on a precise point, making it possible for internet and cellular connections to be much faster and use less spectrum capacity.
“We can take a lot of energy and direct it and focus it right where we want it,” CEO Brian Deutsch said.
Pivotal’s first big customer, which Deutsch would not name yet, focuses on air-to-ground communications and is a competitor to the widespread Gogo service that provides internet service on airline flights.
Pivotal focuses on communications on earth, which makes it different from fellow Intellectual Ventures spinoff Kymeta, which uses flat-panel antenna technology to communicate with satellites in space and bring internet connections to moving vehicles. Two other companies using metamaterials have spun out of Intellectual Ventures in recent years: Echodyne, which develops radar for drones and autonomous vehicles; and Evolv, which uses metamaterials in security scanning equipment.
Pivotal has 20 employees, and plans to double that head count by the end of the year.