15 January 2015

Garmin acquires SA bike radar company

The much-maligned South African venture capital (VC) industry has received a welcome boost in the arm that a local tech player has been acquired by a NASDAQ-listed company.

On Wednesday night it was announced that Stellenbosch based iKubu had sold its assets to Garmin Ltd. for an undisclosed amount. iKubu specialises in developing cutting-edge computer vision and radar systems and has been nurtured through the Grindstone accelerator programme which is operated by JSE-listed African Dawn Capital.

In a press release issued by Garmin, the company explained the rationale for the acquisition was that iKubu was in the final stages of developing the Backtracker low-energy bike radar, a device that provides cyclists the speed and distance of vehicles that are approaching from behind. The road is scanned by a rear-facing radar module that also doubles as a dynamically flashing caution light, and the information is sent wirelessly to a handlebar-mounted head unit.

“iKubu has found a way to implement short-range radar into a low-power system that addresses a common concern among cyclists – identifying potential hazards that are approaching them from behind,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and CEO. “We are delighted to add this technology to the Garmin portfolio.”

“Garmin is a technological leader among cyclists, and we are looking forward to integrating our technology and expertise into their outstanding products,” said Franz Struwig, managing director of iKubu adding: “Garmin gives us the resources to develop, bring to market, and showcase our products that we otherwise would not have.”

The news will provide a welcome kicker to the South African venture capital sector which is often criticised for its inability to provide investors with reasonable opportunities to exit their investments. The ability to attract a foreign investor of Garmin’s stature to local technology will incentivise other players to pursue scaleable global technology offerings. Source: Money Web