Travis Deyle, is a postdoc researcher at Duke and a recent PhD from GA Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering where he was a member of the Healthcare Robotics Lab and a frequent blogger at Hizook.com. Fortunate for us, he kept a file of 2011 venture funded robotic projects and turned it into an interesting chart:
|Source: Travis Deyle, Hizook.com|
This chart may not reflect all of the equity investment activity in the robotics market but it is a far cry from the $6.9 billion that went into 997 venture funded deals in web and Internet startup companies over the course of 2011. This chart also doesn’t mention the many acquisitions, strategic partnerships and mergers that occurred. The most recent is the acquisition of French Cybernetix by Technip, an oil resources and ROV service provider to the industry.
Deyle describes why he thinks VC funding for robotics is a tough nut to crack:
Robotics companies have large capital requirements for robot hardware, few potential acquirers, and almost no “Google-scale” breakout success stories (i.e., IPOs). One of the best known robotics companies, iRobot, has a market cap of just $700 million. This makes robotics a difficult sell to your typical VC firm.
Although these 14 companies represent just a sliver of the 100+ robotic startups that are getting funded in one way or another, they do offer insight into those that are of interest to the venture capital community. Of the companies listed in the chart, it is interesting to note that two are foreign and the biggest investment is for a robotic hair implant device for balding men.
|VGo telepresence robot, Harvest Automation’s nursery robot, Liquid Robotics’ wave glider.|