Nikola Labs gets $2 Million for RF Energy Harvesting Technology

September 16, 2017 by Paul Shepard

Prototype case for iPhone 6 that captures waste RF transmissions, producing up to 30 mW of power to extend battery life by as much as 16%.

Nikola Labs, a pioneer in wireless power, recently closed a $2 million investment round which brings the total investment to date to over $4 million and will catapult the early stage company from technology development into initial commercial sales, as well as help it grow its talent base.

Nikola Labs specializes in wireless power solutions and radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting for mobile devices. The company's energy harvesting system converts ambient RF signals - such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and LTE — into usable DC power suitable for sensors and devices.

Ohio State University (OSU) spinout and Ikove Startup Nursery graduate Nikola Labs is commercializing an energy harvesting and wireless power technology developed by Dr. Chi-Chih Chen, an Associated Research Professor at OSU's ElectroScience Laboratory.

The technology has wide applicability, including providing reliable power to Internet of Things (IoT) devices-like security sensors and fitness trackers- allowing them to operate perpetually and completely free of wired connections.

With the introduction of the first-generation INDRA chip earlier this year, Nikola Labs is bringing wireless power from laboratory curiosity to commercial reality. Combined with an effective transmitter and receiving antenna, our tiny (5mm x 5mm x 1mm) chip enables devices to energize, operate and recharge, all without wires or changing batteries.

Nikola Labs used the INDARA chip and demonstrated energy harvesting from a common source of radio frequency (RF) communication waves - the ubiquitous mobile phone.

The Nikola Labs team designed a case for iPhone 6 that captured waste RF transmissions, producing up to 30 mW of power to extend battery life by as much as 16% without impacting the phone's ability to send and receive data.

A second milestone the company will achieve with this funding round is the transition of Dr. Chen from his OSU professorship into the role of Nikola Labs' Chief Technology Officer.

Since January 2017, Nikola Labs' staff has doubled and is expected to double again over the next 12 months. Along with the transition of Dr. Chen, this growth will come from hiring more engineers to support customer development work gained through business development efforts, plus will serve to increase sales pipeline building.

This includes identifying more opportunities for wireless power and advancing existing customers through proof-of-concept projects and on to commercial deployment of wirelessly powered products.

This latest investment comes from an early stage investment group in Europe and was sourced and organized by Ikove Venture Partners. They join an elite group of early stage investors, which include Ikove's Startup Nursery Fund, Proton Enterprises, LOUD Capital and several high profile individual investors.

"More than 100 years ago, Nikola Tesla envisioned a world with wireless power and we are intent on making his dormant dream a reality. This new investment helps us do that faster— enabling us to leverage the momentum we've already built and go beyond to become a serious competitor in wireless power," said Will Zell, CEO, Nikola Labs. "We have a lot of work to do, but the confidence of investors and Dr. Chen's decision to come onboard are great steps on our journey to success. "

"Nikola Labs is out to create the future with their wireless power technology and this latest investment shows continued support for their vision and confidence in the team to get there," said Flavio Lobato, Managing Partner, Ikove Capital, and Chairman of the Board, Nikola Labs.

"Nikola was incubated in the Ikove Startup Nursery and we're proud to see it progress and grow."