Singapore-headquartered UNL, a micro-location infrastructure, and new generation mapping technology startup announce the raise of US$4.5M in a Pre-series A round to accelerate the development of the Internet of Places and expand operations in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The investment comes from HERE Technologies the leading location data and technology platform, Elev8.vc a Singapore-based early-stage deep-tech VC fund, SGInnovate a Singapore government-backed Deep Tech ecosystem builder and investor, Venturerock an Impact Venture Builder focusing on deep tech and deep impact, and Fernando Herrera, founder of Nordcloud.
The new round comes over a year after UNL’s early-stage funding round in 2020 when the company successfully raised US$2 million from backers; HERE Technologies, SGInnovate, Elev8.vc, Venturerock, and US-headquartered global venture capital fund – SOSV, bringing the total funding to US$6.5 million since the geospatial technology company was founded in 2018.
“Innovation in the mapping and geospatial space so far has been largely focused on data, content, and data visualization. However, new technologies like autonomous vehicles, drones, 5G, IoT, among others, are bringing in a demand for a new wave of innovations in the industry. Micro-locations and hyper-local data will be critical to the success of these new technologies and the evolution of the location-based economy,” says Xander van der Heijden, founder, and CEO of UNL.
UNL’s micro-location infrastructure pixelizes the physical world into a multi-resolution smart grid to give any location a digital and verifiable address a UNL geoID similar to an IP address. UNL geoIDs allow users to uniquely map out and address spaces with up to 1×1 cm2 precision, covering outdoor, indoor, and elevation. “UNL technology is a zero-legacy geospatial infrastructure, able to solve some of the biggest hyperlocal challenges that traditional mapping hasn’t been able to do so far starting with accuracy and precision in mapping, addressing, real-time routing, and self-healing maps,” adds van der Heijden.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the location industry. Location intersects with many of today’s mega and market trends; it can be harnessed in a multitude of ways, across broad industries and geographies,” said Edzard Overbeek, HERE Technologies’ CEO. “Collaboration both inside and outside the industry is paramount to the collective progress. HERE is pleased to continue our support of UNL as they further expand their capabilities and reach to meet the growing demands for location data and technology to help solve today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”
The proceeds from the investment will go towards expanding UNL’s operations in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, where the company will be focusing on solving challenges in last-mile and logistics, starting with bringing accuracy and precision to addressing, geocoding, and dynamic routing.
“Logistics requirements have exploded in the past year. Every enterprise will need to rethink how they amp up their supply chain to meet customers’ hyper-local, hyper-contextual, and hyper-specific delivery needs. UNL can address these needs with its library of plug-and-play geospatial solutions,” said Aditya Mathur, founder and Managing Director of Elev8.vc.
In the short term, UNL is launching the UNL Studio, a cloud-based visual editor, where companies can create their own, custom Virtual Private Maps (VPMs) and manage micro-services and POI data, without any coding. Within VPMs, companies can bring their own business data and publish hyperlocal data updates in real-time, while keeping data ownership and control within their organization. Next to this, “we have built mapping, location and data contribution tools to enable companies to tap into their workforce knowledge and experience regarding local navigation and train their own private UNL router for optimal efficiency within the last-mile and last-meter,” explains van der Heijden.
“UNL’s innovative work is rethinking the way we navigate and experience our urban environments while simultaneously improving the efficiency and sustainability of our supply chains. Micro location technology has tremendous potential to effect positive change across society and economy, and we are keen to continue our partnership and investment in its development,” said Dr. Lim Jui, CEO of SGInnovate.
Virtual Private Maps, data, and updates created within the UNL Studio can be directly connected to businesses’ existing applications, such as a company’s proprietary driver apps, order and fleet management systems, via UNL API keys and accessed in real-time. In the near future, ready-to-use applications will be made available in the UNL MAppStore. Within UNL’s 3D smart grid, UNL geocells are in continuous communication with their neighbors without the need for human intervention, essentially forming a neural distributed locations-based database. By giving a unique digital address (UNL geoID) to every geolocation, UNL enables direct interaction with physical locations and accurately links data to locations to contextually represent real-world situations and events.
UNL’s Internet of Places will essentially transform locations into the next digital platform to power a new generation of hyper-local, hyper-relevant, and hyper-connected services and applications from e-commerce to last-mile and smart city solutions.
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