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Mills-Reeve
St Johns Innovation Centre
15 November, 2017 - 15:02 By Tony Quested

CyanConnode a different commercial animal as it stalks International Trade title

CyanConnode Harry Berry

A lot of Cambridge technology companies have pivoted to find success over the years. A great many have not just pivoted but pirouetted 360 degrees before finding market traction.

The journey for CyanConnode has been more of a merry-go-round than a roller coaster. The company has entered our International Trade Champion category and in terms of new territories conquered and orders assured is an outstanding candidate.

CyanConnode is a world leader in Narrowband RF mesh networks that provide IoT communications. As an expert in managing data communication, CyanConnode’s technology is enabling utilities globally to enhance service delivery, improve business efficiency and save energy. 

The company’s proven technology is already providing customer value in India, Iran, Ukraine, Bangladesh and the Amazon. The order book has grown by 120 per cent in the last 12 months – and all of these orders have been generated from outside of the UK. Such is the current allure of its technology offering that the pipeline of global commercial opportunities has grown to $326 million.

Global staff numbers have grown by 30 per cent in the last 12 months. The company has benefited enormously from the appointment of transatlantic business influencer Harry Berry as chief operating officer.

Formerly head of Brightstar – BT’s world-renowned corporate incubator at Martlesham Heath – Berry is currently European partner for the global New Venture Partner group.

The business is a completely different animal now than when it started out as Cyan, a microchip company, around 12 years ago. It is now up to 70 staff from 55 last year and has ignited a new recruitment campaign in Cambridge and internationally.

As well as growing fast at its Cambridge HQ, the company has ramped to around 11 people in India where it has just hired a managing director, and through the acquisition of Connode is approaching double-figure headcount in Sweden.

The world where CyanConnode customers work and live is switching to RF, the benefits of which the company’s industrial IoT platform is positioned to provide. As such the opportunities for new orders are spiralling. And that is the challenge facing the business – delivering on those orders, which is why Berry was brought in.

“We couldn’t be in a better position,” says Berry. “Our order book and our partners around the world are telling us that.

“The world is moving fast and we have had to move with it. We have always had the capability in electrical meters and street lighting but we are working on expanding into gas and water meters and to upgrade the lighting model through a new application and making it more scaleable.

“Our technology is evolving to meet market demand and you will see developments on new applications later this year, perhaps into early next. You only have to look at the facts to see what a strong position we are in. 

“The market for our technology is absolutely huge; the global market in terms of consumption is less than one per cent take-up for smart street lighting and two-to-three per cent for smart meters which leaves massive headroom in both for CyanConnode to exploit.

“Our strategy has been to operate in emerging countries and these territories cannot be approached in the same way as traditional markets. You cannot be certain exactly when they are going to take off but you need to be well placed in them when they do. And this is where I really take some comfort.

“We are entering and building in those markets via established, indigenous partners who are well financed and highly experienced and respected. I remember BT tried to build a global network without partners and it was a disaster. We have people in the countries we are targeting speaking the same language, with boots on the ground and they tell us they like the model where our role is to support them and help them deliver the technology – almost the ARM model.

“The aim is to eventually establish manufacturing in these territories because you don’t want to have to employ 50 or 60 people in every single country you operate. The skill, which I believe we have mastered, is to choose the right staff and partners in those territories to deliver the product in demand.

“We have multi-million pound companies on our team and we are their chosen partners, in India, the Philippines, Iran, Bangladesh and other countries.

“We have just closed on a new and powerful consortium in Thailand, packed with influential partners. This involves billions of pounds and thousands of people and we are now in both leading consortia in Thailand targeting new and lucrative contracts in our area of specialism in industrial IoT.

“Piling up orders is not a problem; I have said for years that delivery on orders is a wonderful problem to have. It is a lot easier to deliver on orders than to win them in the first place.

“Our strategy is to expand and grab the orders while they are there, not sitting back and shrinking.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Harry Berry

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