Icomera's founder Mats Karlsson Speaks at the Executive Forum 2020

On Thursday, Icomera’s founder Mats Karlsson contributed to the SACC Executive Forum event, speaking about The Future of Connectivity. Ahead of the event, Mats gave an interview discussing where his original interest in technology and innovation sparked from…

This story was first published by the SACC (Author: Lina Nygren)

Mats Karlsson is the original inventor of Icomera’s patented connectivity technology and co-founded the company in 1999. Today he operates as the CTO and SVP Innovation at Icomera. Mr. Karlsson established the rail passenger Wi-Fi business segment, creating a new industry.

In the mid-1990s he moved to Gothenburg to start his University studies at Chalmers University of Technology, where a course about innovation and technology sparked his interest. During this course he was assigned to develop his own technology and create a business idea around it. His idea was to use several cellular networks and multiple modems in parallel to achieve better coverage and data throughput to connect unmanned air vehicles.

Later, he and some of his friends got the opportunity to participate in the first edition of Venture Cup, a Scandinavian business competition in which entrepreneurs with unique business ideas compete for investment capital. During the competition, Mr. Karlsson and his friends learned that their technology might be new and interesting, however the business segment of unmanned air vehicles was not. Although they did not win the Venture Cup, this was the starting point of Icomera. In 1999 Mr. Karlsson and three other graduates from Chalmers University of Technology founded Icomera AB and received a patent on their pioneering multicellular aggregating technology, M.A.T.S, Multichannel Asynchronous Transfer System.

In the late 1990s, before the iPhone, there were personal digital assistants (PDAs), a handheld computer looking like a thick smartphone. The devices were connected to the Internet via Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) and the cellular technology GPRS via a Bluetooth connected cell phone. Icomera adopted this technology to a system that made it possible for the PDA to seamlessly move between the WLAN and cellular networks. The system made it possible for the PDA to get a reliable connection between a WLAN network to a Cellular network without any interruption. Previous technology did not offer such flexibility. Due to Icomera’s innovative technology, they received great attention from companies such as Microsoft and Intel, and they signed a framework agreement with Fujitsu Siemens. Despite the great interest from Intel, Microsoft, and Fujitsu Siemens, there was no further advancement on collaboration. Icomera’s innovative technology was developed too early, hence the consumer demand was not sufficiently strong. Instead of focusing on PDAs, Mr. Karlsson saw that they could use their technology to connect buses and trains with wireless broadband serving hundreds of connected passengers at the same time, an area in which they are still operating.

 “…there was no further advancement on collaboration. Icomera’s innovative technology was developed too early, hence the consumer demand was not sufficiently strong”

Technology is constantly changing, and it can be difficult to keep up with the pace. However, Mats Karlsson points out that the challenges today are not as difficult as the challenges when they first started their journey. In the mid-1990s the Internet was a rather new technology and being a first mover was not something everyone wanted to be which resulted in lack of competitors which was a challenge.

“Competitors not only give you something to measure your company against, but also a motivation to develop your own company to become better than your competitors. Competitors drive technology development” 

The challenge today, Mr. Karlsson points out, is to keep up with the pace of our Internet usage and create new technologies that can continue to ease our usage.

The success story behind Icomera according to Mats Karlsson, is their keenness to always update, develop and innovate new technology. Mr Karlsson lives by the German motto Messen ist Wissen, or in English, To measure is to know. This is not only something that has followed Mr Karlsson in his life, but it is also something that has driven Icomera. They test different technologies and measure their technologies before they speculate and make a decision. They look at the given fact instead of speculating from the blue, which might be the secret behind Icomera’s success.

In my projects both today and when I was younger, I would describe myself as diligent”