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News & Features

Spun-off wireless company thrives after parent company downsizes

by Deborah Nason
Virginia Business
November 2005


Eric Hansen is doing his part to shine a spotlight on Lynchburg’s technology talent. In May, he was interviewed on CNBC after his company, Innovative Wireless Technologies (IWT), won the chance to present some of its products at a prestigious technology conference.

That kind of spunk has powered IWT’s growth since it was spun off by wireless phone giant Ericsson in 1997. Hansen, the company president, says the company has enjoyed 35 percent annual revenue growth during the past eight years, with a 59 percent increase last year.

IWT develops wireless technology designs for voice, video and data applications. Examples include remote data collection from utility meters, and homeland security monitoring of sensor networks in dense urban areas.

“Our diversification helped us weather the craze,” says Hansen. For example, IWT targets three markets — commercial, public safety and defense. Its business model also has a multiple focus, developing design and consulting services as well as products for wireless and non-wireless customers. “We sell the wireless communication piece within products made by companies such as Agilent and Sirius,” says Hansen.

Massive local layoffs by Ericsson several years ago were a boon to IWT. “As Ericsson was laying people off, we grabbed them,” recalls Hansen. Eighty percent of the company’s employees came from Ericsson.

Currently at 40 employees, IWT is on the verge of explosive growth. “We have a big program [in the works] in the utility energy management arena.” Hansen plans for IWT to be a $30 million company with a work force of 100 within a year and a half.

That expanded work force will be housed in IWT’s new multistory headquarters being built on the research and development campus of Bedford County’s 500-acre New London industrial park. One of the expected tenants would be the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research, an initiative that will link university research with high-tech companies in Virginia’s Region 2000.


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