April equity deals, acquisitions and Chinese funds
by Frank Tobe
Money is flowing to robotics-related startup companies. Q1 saw nineteen equity deals totalling $317 million, and three acquisitions of undetermined amounts, but money also flowed in April.
- Airware, already the most heavily venture-backed drone company in Silicon Valley, received an undisclosed investment from Intel Capital. Airware has developed an autopilot that enables drone makers to quickly build their device, pop in the Airware box, add their special application-specific payload, and not have to develop extensive piloting and navigation software.
- Gamma2 Robotics closed a $3.5M Series A round with a goal of rolling out their mobile Vigilant Security Robots. Funds came from Foxlink, a Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer who said: “We believe that it represents a sea change in the security industry, where no longer are human guards burdened with the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs. They can be reallocated to more high-value roles, leaving the robots to do the previous job at a technically superior level, at a fraction of the cost. We see – and are actively pursuing – immediate applications around the world.”
- SMD, a UK ROV builder and underwater services provider, was sold to a Chinese conglomerate for $190M.
- Beijing-based Ninebot acquired Segway and received $80M from two VCs to do the deal.
- Intellibot, a maker of industrial-grade robotic cleaning devices, was acuired by Swiss Sealed Air for an undisclosed amount.
- ABB, one of the robotic industry’s Big Four of robot manufacturers, acquired gomTec for an undisclosed price. ABB simultaneously launched their new two-armed YuMi robot which is specifically oriented to electronics assembly. Both actions signal ABB’s entrance into the collaborative robotics marketplace.
- Moscow-based Skolkovo announce that they and Chinese Cybernaut Investment Group will jointly develop, finance to the tune of $200M, and market high-tech Russian innovations to be manufactured and sold in China and globally.
The Chinese Factor:
- Note the various acquisitions, investment plans and investment positions made by Chinese investors in the transactions above.
- The Economist recently reported on the growing flow of Chinese money, which is encapsulated in the chart on the right that shows the recent trend, some of which is in the robotics and automation sphere.