World’s biggest electronics brands use Finnish testing technology
Unigraf’s test tools can show, for example, if a smartphone’s USB-C connector transmits video, audio, data and power correctly and complies with international standards.Unigraf
In the past few years, Finnish technology company Unigraf has risen from financial difficulties to provide consumer electronics testing for electronics brands around the world.
It is always slightly nerve-wracking to connect your laptop to a new monitor or TV. If you are lucky and get a sharp picture with clear sound, Espoo-based Unigraf could be the company to thank. Many of the biggest consumer electronics brands – the likes of Dolby, Intel and Microsoft – rely on its technology to test their devices.
“We make video electronics test equipment and software for smartphones, monitors, VR glasses – basically for any device that transmits or receives picture and sound,” explains Henri Muhonen, CEO at Unigraf. “For example, when Intel develops a new graphics card, they buy our devices to test it works correctly and complies with international standards.”
It is no small feat for a relatively unknown company from Finland, but Unigraf has found its niche. Its product catalogue covers tools for compliance, R&D and manufacturing testing for all three of the most popular connectors in consumer devices: DisplayPort, HDMI and USB-C.
“All the biggest consumer electronics companies are potential customers. Yet we have only one a few competitors,” says Muhonen. “We describe our market as a global niche.”
Today Unigraf has over 200 customers globally, but it is a success story which took time. The company was founded in 1990 as a video wall and train PC specialist. In 2006, Unigraf expanded into video testing equipment and the majority of its business came from tailored customer projects. But this approach received a significant blow six years later when the company lost one of its biggest customers.
“Unigraf was too dependent on that customer and was pushed into financial difficulties,” Muhonen says. “But we’ve been able to streamline and change our strategy since I joined the company in 2016. We shifted our focus to software-based testing products and the role of hardware became much smaller.”
The move has paid off. Unigraf has doubled both its revenue and the size of its developer team in the past four years. Now the company employs 24 people, including six developers in St. Petersburg, Russia, and plans to hire more.
Unigraf has also benefited from being an early adopter. The company has worked with the DisplayPort technology since it was launched in 2006 and in 2016 became the first company in the world to introduce a test device for USB-C connectors. This has been helped by Unigraf’s contributor role in international standardisation.
“We are part of VESA [Video Electronics Standards Association] and participate in writing the standards, for example, for DisplayPort,” Muhonen says. “This way our products always match the latest developments.
Unigraf’s main markets are in North America, China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Currently, the company is investing heavily in China, where many prominent high-end component and electronics manufacturers are located. Unigraf has started to work with a new distributor in China, has hired Chinese-speaking customer support and is translating all its materials into Chinese.
“I have travelled to China for business for over 10 years. Localisation is essential,” Muhonen says. “Also being Finnish works to our advantage in the current market. We are seen as impartial and neutral since many other technology providers are US-based.”
The biggest challenge for Unigraf is to stay on top in all three connector technologies its test tools support. This requires constant product development, growing resources and recruitment. But Unigraf is up to the challenge.
“We already have so many new project offers that I don’t know if we can accept them all,” Muhonen says. “But we see this as a sign that we have gained a strong foothold on the market and are capable of doing things that others aren’t. This gives us a lot of faith in the future.”