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This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Independent Senior Research Associate at Memoori

Over the past three years, acquisitions, investments and partnerships in keyless electronic locking startups have reinforced the growth of the digital locking segment in electronic access control solutions for both residential and non-residential buildings. Over the same timeframe, the major security solution providers have faced competitive pressure from a wave of smart building startups, and in response to the potential disruption, have increased their investments in innovation through a variety of ways including acquisitions, in-house R&D, early stage incubator programs, strategic partnerships and startup funding.

In June 2018, Doordeck and Stanley Security UK announced a partnership, bringing the technology behind Doordeck’s smart keyless access platform to Stanley Security’s hardware lineup. Doordeck is a London-based startup designing smarter access control for commercial spaces. Founded by William Bainborough and Michael Barnwell in 2015, the company raised seed funding of £180,000 in Feb 2018.

Stanley OneDoor, a cloud-based security platform that allows users to access their office using their smartphone instead of a keycard, was launched at IFSEC last month. Stanley OneDoor claims to be the only product of its kind designed to be backwards-compatible with existing Stanley infrastructure, meaning users can install OneDoor without the need for any new wires or hardware and without the upfront costs typically involved with installing smart locks.

Stanley Black & Decker, the US parent company, also opened the Stanley Security Futures Innovation Factory in Boston, USA in July 2017 focused on uncovering disruptive business models and ensuring that they develop the most innovative solutions in the security space.

The announcement in February 2018 by Allegion that it had acquired a minority stake in an Austrian electronic locking startup, Nuki GmbH is another example of a technology investment in an early stage startup. Nuki was quoted by Allegion when it subsequently announced the launch of a a $50 million corporate venture fund formed to support early stage startups and accelerate the growth of innovative technologies and products.

Founded in Austria in 2014, Nuki has developed a keyless locking system for apartment buildings. Nuki’s first product was a retrofit residential smart lock for single-family homes. The Nuki Smart Lock offers Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and Nuki Fob credentialing and fits the majority of existing European locks. When used with the Nuki Bridge, it provides permanent internet connectivity and homeowner control from remote locations.

With the Nuki Box, which is the latest addition to the company’s product portfolio, entrance doors of multi-occupier housing become smart access systems. The new product is targeted at building managers, owners and residents of apartment buildings, and service providers such as parcel and nursing services.

Allegion has also been acquiring established players in the digital locking sector over recent years. In 2015, the group purchased SimonsVoss Technologies GmbH, an electronic lock provider with a leading position in the growing European electronic access control market, for approximately €210 million and in the same year, acquired Milre in South Korea to build the group’s electronic locking presence in Asia.

Assa Abloy, the global leader in door opening solutions, with sales of SEK 76.1 billion, offers a wide range of digital and mechatronic locking solutions for applications ranging from the smart home to critical infrastructure access points at remote sites such as electricity sub-stations and commercial buildings, including offices, schools and the healthcare sector.

In October 2017, the acquisition of August Home, a leading smart lock business in the US, constituted a strategic addition to the Group and reinforced their position in the residential smart door market, with complementary smart locks, expansion into video doorbells and solutions for home delivery. Sales for 2018 are expected to reach around $60 million.

In June 2017, Salto Systems, a manufacturer of electronic access control systems, completed the acquisition of its remaining 40% stake in the Dutch company, Clay BV, in which the company already held a 60% stake. Clay is a wireless, cloud-based smart lock technology company founded in 2012 and based in Amsterdam. Clay provides white label smart lock technology and the Clay Locking Platform is the foundation for SALTO KS Keys as a Service.

In June 2017, Salto Systems also announced the purchase of a significant equity stake in Danalock Aps, the Danish smart lock manufacturer, to strengthen its position in electronic locks for the residential market.

Many of the smart lock new entrants addressing both single and multi-family residential buildings are now also expanding their presence in the commercial space, eg. Unikey. In some cases, new entrants have pivoted their business models to focus on B2B. For example, the Japanese startup, Photosynth who developed the Akerun smart door lock, which initially addressed individual home owners, is now targeting offices and small businesses who are often reticent to invest in access control systems.

We expect to see further consolidation and collaboration in the fragmented access control market, as digital locking continues to replace mechanical locks and keys, startups seek to scale up their solutions and established players aim to augment their portfolios with innovative technology.