Allegion Ventures makes $20M investment into California security-tech startup

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Carmel-based Allegion Ventures, the venture investing arm of security-products company Allegion Plc, has made its largest deal yet—a $20 million investment into San Jose, California-based Ambient.ai.

Allegion is headquartered in Ireland, and its Americas division is based in Carmel. The company makes a range of products, from mechanical and electrical locks to electronic safety products, under brand names that include Schlage, Steelcraft and Von Duprin.

Ambient.ai, which launched in 2017, has developed technology that works with a customer’s security camera system, allowing the customer to better identify and prevent threats. The technology uses artificial intelligence and computer vision intelligence to analyze objects, actions and situational context, alerting customers to potential problems.

The technology is designed for enterprise-scale security systems, helping clients monitor a large amount of surveillance imagery and identify potential threats in real time, or nearly real time.

“It’s very powerful, the stuff that they’re able to do, and that’s why we want to make such a big investment,” said Bobby Prostko, the managing director for Allegion Ventures’ current investment fund, Fund II.

The technology does not employ facial recognition and does not identify individuals, Prostko said.

In connection with the investment, Allegion Ventures President Rob Martens will serve as a board observer for Ambient.ai.

Prostko said Allegion was also attracted to Ambient.ai because the two companies’ product offerings are so closely aligned.

Prostko offered a few hypothetical examples of how the technology works:

Ambient.ai’s technology might detect an employee with a knife and determine that the employee poses no threat because he or she is in the office kitchen. But an employee with a knife in a different area of the office might trigger an alert.

Or the system might detect people approaching a building at night and determine that this is unusual behavior. The system could then alert security personnel, managers, police, or others who could respond to the event and prevent a break-in from occurring.

The goal of the Allegion Ventures funds is to invest in companies and form business partnerships with those companies. Partnerships could involve incorporating a portfolio company’s technology into an Allegion product, allowing Allegion to take the product to market more quickly than if it had developed a similar technology in-house.

It’s premature, Prostko said, to say what form Allegion’s partnership with Ambient.ai might take.

Ambient.ai is Allegion Ventures’ third publicly announced investment out of its Fund II, which launched in December 2021.

In February of this year, Allegion Ventures announced it had co-led an $11 million round of Series A funding for New York City-based Stuf. Launched in 2020, Stuf allows the owners of commercial buildings to offer self-storage space in those buildings.

And in March of this year, Allegion Ventures announced an investment of an undisclosed amount in San Francisco-based Latchel, whose software platform helps landlords automate and manage tenants’ maintenance requests.

Prostko said Allegion is continuing to make investments out of its Fund II, which launched in December 2021 with $100 million. Allegion Ventures’ first fund, Fund I, launched in March 2018 with $50 million. Allegion Ventures made investments in eight different companies from Fund I.

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