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WiC Leading Lights 2018 Finalists: Female-Led Startup to Watch

Libelium and Movandi and their founders are pioneering new technologies that are already changing the game for IoT and 5G, respectively, making them startups you want to keep an eye on in 2018 and beyond.

Sarah Thomas

April 26, 2018

5 Min Read
WiC Leading Lights 2018 Finalists: Female-Led Startup to Watch

Tech companies are overwhelmingly founded by men. But the two startup founders in our finalist list for the Leading Light award for Female-Led Startup to Watch are women and their pioneering companies make them all the more worthy of inclusion.

Libelium and Movandi are the two finalists in this category. It's a short list but an extremely impressive one as these companies are changing the landscape of the Internet of Things and 5G markets, respectively. One, Libelium, has been around for awhile, while the other, Movandi, is new to the space, but both are behind the scenes providing connectivity and technologies that will change how we live, work and play.

The WiC awards -- Female-Led Startup to Watch, Most Inspiring Woman and Female Tech Pioneer -- are part of Light Reading's broader Leading Lights Awards program. Learn the names of the other WiC finalists (blogs expounding on the nominees coming soon) and find out which companies were shortlisted in the other myriad categories by reading: Congrats to 2018's WiC Leading Lights Finalists and Leading Lights 2018: The Finalists.

The winners, and the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced at the Leading Lights awards dinner, which will be held during the evening of Monday, May 14, at the Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas, after Women in Comms' luncheon workshop on where "digital transformation meets diversity" and the evening before the doors open to the Big Communications Event.

Be sure to book your seat or table before they sell out: All the details and contacts you need can be found right here.

Join Women in Comms for an afternoon of workshops and networking in Austin at the fifth-annual Big Communications Event on May 14. Learn from and engage with industry thought leaders and women in tech. There's still time to register and the workshop is free!”

Now, on to the finalists...

Libelium (Alicia Asin, Co-Founder & CEO)
Consumers may not be aware of the brand Libelium, but its IoT sensors are improving their lives -- and the world, in general -- across a number of industries. They are doing everything from preventing pests and improving productivity in crops to reducing pollution and traffic in smart cities to predicting volcanic activity to bringing health care to those who live far from hospitals. Its sensors are even up in space, having traveled there aboard a satellite to study solar storms.

Alicia Asín is the CEO of this decidedly cool and innovative Spanish company, which she co-founded 11 years ago and has grown to employ 60 people (with an average age of 32), as well as to achieve 20% year-on-year growth.

Not only is Asín pioneering transformative technology, but she's also inspiring the next generation of young girls through educational projects she spearheads that encourage them to pursue engineering and learn the programming language required to power the 50 billion devices that will connect to the Internet by 2020.

Movandi (Maryam Rofougaran, Co-CEO, Founder & COO)
5G networks can use millimeter wave spectrum, that above 24Ghz, for the first time, which presents network operators with a new set of opportunities and challenges. Startup Movandi came on to the scene in 2016 to address the technical challenge of closing the communication link on 5G millimeter wave networks. The company makes mmWave antenna arrays that are purpose-built for 5G and that it says are more compact, power efficient across a wider power range, more spectrally efficient and cheaper to produce than existing options. Its RF front-end design is the result of 40 patents that form a complete system from the entire front-end to the antenna system.

As a whole, the startup says this system ensures robust communication and can unlock "the potential of high-frequency wireless communications, opening numerous new market opportunities and applications." Its designs will help operators deliver on the promise of 5G through multi-gigabit wireless speeds, double the battery life, connectivity with no drop-offs and, of course, super-quick downloads and instant connections for virtual reality and artificial intelligence applications.

Maryam Rofougaran left Broadcom in 2016 to co-found the company with her brother Reza Rofougaran. She's the patent holder for those 40 patents Movandi incorporates, but -- by the way -- she has also been issued more than 200 others. Prior to Movandi, Rofougaran was instrumental to developing technologies, including RF CMOS, Bluetooth, WLAN, GPS, FM, ZigBee, NFC and Combos, Cellular 2G/3G and 4G, Femto, Microwave backhaul and 60GHz WiGig, that are instrumental to our industry. Movandi isn't the first company she's founded, either, having launched Innovent Systems in 1998 (later acquired by Broadcom), but it could be her most important.

— Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

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About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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