Spun-off wireless company thrives
after parent company downsizes
by Deborah Nason
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 dot.com
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.