Nokia has announced a new agreement to collaborate with Innventure to commercialise IP on high-performance cooling technology for data centres and mobile network equipment. The partnership, which sees patents from Nokia sold into a new company, is the latest initiative by the Finnish company to find creative ways to drive more value from IP that sit outside the focus of its core business.

The deal sees venture capital firm Innventure establishing a new spinout company, Accelsius, to further develop and commercialise innovative cooling technology from Nokia Bell Labs. Nokia’s relevant patents have been sold to the new business, while other IP relating to software and know-how is being licensed to Accelsius.

Though Nokia has been a significant innovator in the field of network efficiency and reliable cooling, its inventions in the space lie outside the core strategic focus of its products business. Given limits in attention and resources, it has decided its activity in this area would be better commercialised outside the company.

The relevant inventions are not yet widely practiced, but Accelsius will seek to commercialise Nokia’s IP by licensing use of the technology and engaging in tech transfer. New options for cooling data centres are in increasingly high demand, so the partners will need to move quickly to ensure maximum market penetration. The structure of the deal – whether Nokia owns an equity stake in the new company, for example, or will receive a royalty on Accelsius’ sales – has not been made public.

This is not the first time Nokia has acted in partnership with Innventure. Back in 2019, the two companies announced that they were collaborating on the commercialisation of disruptive technology in the satellite communications space, also protected by IP belonging to Nokia Bell Labs (in particular  adaptive bandwidth management technology).

Innventure specialises in working with global businesses in commercialising inventions whose potential is not being fully exploited. It seeks to acquire technologies, from a variety of technical fields, that could become the basis for sizeable companies in their own right. Perhaps its best-known partnership outside its relationship with Nokia is with Procter & Gamble. That collaboration involved the establishment of a recycling technology start-up called Pure Cycle Technologies.

Nokia engages in a range of initiatives aimed at realizing greater value from its wide-ranging IP portfolio. Though the company is well-known for its SEP monetisation efforts in smartphones, auto and IoT – sectors that drive the bulk of Nokia Technologies’ annual €1.4 billion revenue – it owns IP rights with a far broader set of applications. This partly reflects the work of Bell Labs, which Nokia acquired as part of its Alcatel Lucent buyout in 2015.

Also in 2019, Nokia announced a partnership with GE intended to help commercialise the Finnish company’s technology outside the telecoms industry. This was to start with a collaboration in the area of space division multiplexing technology, which can increase capacity in communications networks and has potential uses in medtech.

Nokia also partners with IPHatch which licenses patents to Asian start-up companies in return for equity stakes in those businesses. It also recently signed a major patent licensing deal with Samsung, allowing the South Korean tech giant to make use of IP relating to multimedia and video standards.

Adam Houldsworth