Sofinnova Ventures, Sofinnova Partners and Telesystem-Argo Global Capital invest $10 million in Volubill

Sofinnova Ventures, a diversified venture firm specializing in early-stage information technology and life science companies, today announced an investment round of 11 million Euros ($10 million) to launch VoluBill, a mobile Internet billing solutions company. Also participating in the investment are Telesystem-Argo Global Capital of Montreal, Canada and Sofinnova Partners of Paris, France.

VoluBill is the spin-off from Cegetel Group, the first private sector global operator in France with nearly 15 million subscribers. Cegetel Group has an 18% equity stake in the company, which is based in Grenoble, France.

Sofinnova Ventures Principal Eric Buatois said, “The mobile data and Internet business is evolving toward a retail/wholesale model with fewer intermediaries. VoluBill will help mobile operators become full billing aggregators for all the services provided through mobile devices.” He added, “VoluBill’s management team has deep experience addressing the challenges that currently face telecom operators. And, along with their expertise in international business development and strong product development focus, VoluBill’s leadership has the full complement of skills to successfully serve this market niche.”

VoluBill is launching a one-stop charging solution that enables service providers to bill content services in both pre-paid and post-paid modes and notifies the users of transaction costs prior to connection. The VoluBill product, the Dialog Control and Charging Platform, is based on advanced reliable hardware and software that can easily feed combined content and traffic information to the existing billing systems, minimizing disruption and installation time.

Olivier Protard, General Partner at Sofinnova Partners in Paris, said, “Detailed content billing will be one of the key success factors for the new generation of mobile services. The solution provided by VoluBill is well positioned to account for, certify and efficiently bill new data-rich services to the customers of GPRS and UMTS cellular operators in Europe.”

“In the current investment environment it is more important than ever to be able to recognize the exceptional opportunities – and VoluBill certainly presents one,” commented Vesa Jormakka, General Partner of Telesystem-Argo Global Capital. “VoluBill is also a perfect fit to our existing portfolio of companies, which enables us to further leverage our know-how and experience in this exciting space.”

“We’re meeting a need that currently exists in the market,” concluded AndrĂ© Meyer, CEO and co-founder of VoluBill. “The most promising new revenue stream is content – but service providers know that effective billing for content has remained an impossibility until now. By offering transaction information combined with traffic access information, with no necessary modification to the content, we can help service providers to implement innovative price plans.”

Global market intelligence firm IDC predicts that services revenue will accelerate as telecom carriers capitalize on Internet protocol opportunities. IDC valued the telecommunication service market at about $54 billion in 2000, and projects an increase to $101 billion by 2005, representing a compound annual growth rate of 13%. IDC qualifies this projection by adding that growth rates in 2001 to 2002 have inevitably been restrained as a result of slackening economic activity and war.

Visit website