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Altair adds EMSS to its portfolio

EarningsAltair Engineering just announced that it is acquiring EM Software & Systems (EMSS), developer of the FEKO electromagnetic simulation suite. EMSS has actually been around since the 1990s but, as a South African company, has struggled to be known on an international stage. EMSS started as a consultancy and discovered through those client engagements that there was a need to simulate antennas; that led to a cooperation with the University of Stuttgart and that, in turn, led to the commercialization of FEKO.

Altair CEO Jim Scapa said that this acquisition “reflects Altair’s resolve to continue to bring world-class technology to our customers, and demonstrates our long-term objective of organic growth, with strategic partnerships and acquisitions where it makes sense. We are very pleased to integrate EMSS into the Altair family given its cutting-edge technology and knowledge of the electromagnetic (EM) domain.”

EMSS currently employs about 100 worldwide. Altair’s CTO Dr. Uwe Schramm, says that “EMSS employees will join existing Altair technology development and local support organizations. Their expertise will help Altair to become a force in electromagnetic simulation. Integration of the FEKO suite of electromagnetic solutions with Altair HyperWorks will give our customers access to additional smart multiphysics and design optimization capabilities, for instance addressing coupled electromagnetic-thermal or electromagnetic-mechanical problems.”

The original author of FEKO and current Director and FEKO Product Manager, EMSS, Dr. Ulrich Jakobus said in the press release that he “look[s] forward to broadening our electromagnetic portfolio and serving our customers even better with enhanced technical solutions and services, while retaining our world-class technical support. Existing and future FEKO customers will benefit from the sharing of computer-aided engineering and high-performance computing knowledge between our teams and Altair.” 

Details of the acquisition weren’t announced but this is an agreement in principle, with the acquisition itself expected to close in early 2014.

My take? EMSS has been an Altair Hyperworks partner for years –I think it may even have been one of the first third party applications on the platform in 2008– so the companies know one another (and their respective technologies) well. Altair’s current mission is to grow its multiphysics capabilities; the proliferation of electronics and electromechanical devices makes it crucial to simulate as much as possible how communications technologies, chips, printed circuit boards interact with the devices they power. This is an important step for Altair and will bring FEKO and the other EMSS products to a wider audience.

Of course, the cynic in me can’t help but note that ANSYS also announced an acquisition just last week. Good CAE companies and technologies are being snapped up by the bigger players to build out solver sets and to expand into new customers (or new divisions within existing customers). As far as I know, only MSC hasn’t acquired anything in 2013, preferring to save its resources for a revamp of its own lineup and the release of the Predator product in 2014 — but ANSYS, DS/SIMULIA and now Altair have been picking cool technologies left and right. It’s an exciting time.

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