A startup hailing from far-flung Iceland is emerging as one of the key players in the race to distribute one of the key coronavirus vaccines around the world. Controlant — which has a unique real-time supply chain monitoring technology based on GSM networks and is specifically geared to areas like pharmaceuticals and life sciences — has confirmed it is providing its monitoring services to Pfizer as it delivers the mRNA-based Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine globally. The Controlant platform involves screen-based IoT tags, which link to GSM networks and then feed into web and mobile apps.
Last week the governor of New York held up a box (see image above and video below) containing the vaccine, with an unidentified tag that looked like a Controlant GSM tracking device. TechCrunch contacted Controlant and the company confirmed that it was indeed their technology.
In September Controlant secured $15 million in Series B funding to drive the market expansion of its real-time Cold Chain as a Service platform. It has largely Iceland-based investors, including Sjova and VIS. Frumtak, a VC firm in Iceland, first invested in Controlant in 2011. The recent financing brought Controlant’s total funding to date to $50 million. Frumtak recently sold 11% of its stake in Controlant (a transaction handled by Arion Bank) for close to $14 million, but will continue to hold a 13% stake through its Frumtak II fund.
In addition to the visibility and monitoring solutions that Controlant is providing to Pfizer, it’s also working directly with the U.S. government, the CDC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and stakeholders in “Operation Warp Speed”. The platform is being used throughout the entirety of the U.S. supply chain journey of the vaccines.
Gisli Herjolfsson (pictured), co-founder and CEO of Controlant, said in a statement: “Controlant has amassed a depth of expertise in vaccine supply chain operations and we are happy to have the opportunity to apply our solutions to the entirety of the mRNA-based Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine supply chain, through our direct work with Pfizer and government stakeholders.”
Controlant IoT devices, packed with the vaccines, capture environmental information, including time, temperature and light events, and send the information, in real time, to Controlant’s proprietary platform.
Below is a video of Governor Andrew Cuomo showing the typical packaging that Controlant devices are attached to: