Rostec, Russian Railways committed to create $100 million venture fund to support IT, IoT projects

09 July 2019

Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec and Russian Railways have pledged to create a joint center for the development of LPWAN XNB wireless network devices and Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies to be used on transport.

To support such activities, the parties are going to launch a $100 million venture fund, Russian industry resource reported.

Last month as part of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, RZD Technologies, a digital transformation project office of Russian Railways, and RT Invest, a subsidiary of Rostec, signed a memorandum, to create a joint venture and launch a venture fund to support IT projects on transport.

The joint venture is to become a development center for various devices that will operate in a network based on the XNB protocol — created last year by Modern Radio Technologies, a Rotenberg company, — supporting its low-power wide-area network (LPWAN). It will also foster IoT technologies to be used in the Russian transport and logistics systems, monitoring railway operations.

RZD Technologies and RT Invest will become anchor investors in the venture fund. They will bring 20% of the fund’s capital and the rest is to be attracted from Russian and foreign companies.

RT Invest CEO Andrey Shipelov hopes that the venture fund will be fully operational in 2020, with the first investment to be made as early as November 2019. Among the pilot projects to be supported by the fund, Shipelov mentioned projects “related to cross-border cargo shipments between Russia and China, as well as transit shipments between China and Europe across the Russian territory.”

LPWAN XNB is a Russian wireless communications protocol operating in the 863-865/874-876 MHz frequency band. In contrast to popular international LPWAN-based protocols NB-IoT and LoRa, it supports communications exchange within city limits at a distance of up to 10 km while the foreign protocols support a range of 2-4 km.

XNB is not connected to either GSM or LTE networks; therefore, it can be deployed in areas where there is no mobile operator coverage. In an open area, its communications range can reach as far as 50 km.

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