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Urban innovation firm Miovision Technologies raises $15-million to expand smart intersection products

As cities become ever more digitally connected, Miovision Technologies Inc. has raised another $15-million to expand its smart intersection products and lay the groundwork for future urban innovations.

Based in Kitchener, Ont., the 13-year-old company’s technology is used in more than 17,000 municipalities worldwide, allowing them to learn about traffic going through intersections with video data collection powered by artificial intelligence. The technology measures traffic flows and allows adjustments to traffic signals, such as when emergency vehicles need to get through.

The backbone of Miovision’s technology is open data architecture: transparent, non-proprietary data collection and storage. This data can be more easily used by cities, than the information collected by traditional analog machines, to make urban design decisions.

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The financing round, to be announced Monday, is a sign of faith from Miovision investors that its technology will continue to be integral to cities of the future. It’s led by the company’s largest shareholder, Montreal’s MacKinnon, Bennett & Co. (MKB), as well as new investor McRock Capital of Toronto. Further funding comes from Business Development Bank of Canada and the Boston private-equity investment firm HarbourVest Partners.

The $15-million is in the form of a convertible note, with the intention of a forthcoming equity raise that the company says will be “significantly larger” as it grows its intersection products’ capabilities and customer base. The growth, in turn, could drive greater interest in open architecture for further potential product lines.

“We have a lot of ideas – some of which we’re already in market with, and some of which are coming soon – that are built around the idea of turning an intersection into an open data source that can be used by the city and used by others,” said Kurtis McBride, Miovision’s chief executive officer, in an interview.

The company’s most recent raise was a $30-million venture-funding round in 2015, also led by MKB. Ken MacKinnon, MKB’s managing partner, says he’s been a long-standing fan of Miovision’s innovations.

“Not only do they provide thought leadership in terms of how smart cities can be managed through next-generation technology – they actually have products and services that are generating revenue today, and providing very useful capabilities for cities to better manage their operations,” Mr. MacKinnon told The Globe and Mail.

The company also announced that McRock managing partner Whitney Rockley has joined its board. Her fund is dedicated to the “industrial internet of things” – the deeply connected juncture of physical technology and data processing – of which smart-city technology is a major market.

“I see the intersection being the backbone of the city,” Ms. Rockley said. Miovision, she said, “really is one of the few companies that we’ve seen that has built their fundamental technology on an open-architecture platform that will enable cities to do lots of different things.”

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Some of Miovision's client municipalities have used the technology for emergency vehicle pre-emption (EVP), which gives first responders priority through intersections.

“Traditionally, if you wanted to install EVP into a city, you’d have to put new hardware both in the vehicle and at the intersection,” Mr. McBride said. “It’s expensive to do and it takes a lot of time to deploy. But with our system, because it’s all software-enabled, we already have the device we need at the intersection.”

Such programs, he continues, can be crucial: “If you can knock a minute off a response time for a fire truck, it makes the difference between a kitchen fire and a house fire.”

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