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August/September robotics fundings report

October 1, 2015

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August and September equity fundings, joint ventures, acquisitions and venture funds continue the momentum exhibited throughout 2015 of serious money flowing into robotics startups.

For a list of acquisitions, click here.

ROBOTIC VENTURES FUNDINGS:

  1. GE Ventures has become a strategic investor in Clearpath Robotics for an undisclosed sum. This follows a March, 2015 $11.5 Series A funding round for Clearpath. GE invested after three years of collaboration on the development of Clearpath’s new OTTO heavy load mobility platform which was displayed last week at RoboBusiness. GE is also the first purchaser of the OTTO.
  2. Dronomy, an Israili drone technology startup, got $1.5M to continue the development of collision avoidance software. The Dronomy team and it’s VC investors have ties to the Israeli air force.
  3. Intel Capital invested $60M in Hong Kong drone startup Yuneec Electric Aviation last month. Intel and Yuneec will work on developing future products. Yuneec makes drones for consumers and industrial users, as well as manned electric aircraft. Intel has invested in other drone companies such as Airware and PrecisionHawk. These drone relationships fit with Intel’s strategy to make investments in companies developing products with the potential to expand the market for semiconductors, as the company searches for new devices for chips. Qualcomm is doing the same kind of strategic investments for their chip development.
  4. Virtual Incision, a Nebraska-based startup developing minimally-invasive mini-robot surgical devices for colon resection and other abdominal procedures, received $11.2M in venture funding. The funding will be used for feasibility studies on the use of the company’s surgical technology for colon resection, inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.
  5. Jibo, Inc., the social robot which last year had the successful $3.7 million Indiegogo crowd funding, recently got an $11M add-on to the previous $25.3M A round to concentrate on the Asian market. With this $11M, Jibo has now raised $38.6M and expects to begin shipping crowdfund and preorders in December, 2015.
  6. HUVR Data Services, one of the many new companies using robotic technology to provide that technology as a service to clients, gets $2M in Series A funding. HUVR uses drones to inspect industrial and agricultural assets and provides data analytics to their clients.
  7. Peloton Technology, a Silicon Valley startup providing truck platooning technology, got $17 million from some strategic investors after receiving $16M just a few months earlier in April. Denso Intl. was the lead investor in both funding rounds. Denso is a Japanese robot maker that also provides technology and components to the global auto industry.
  8. GreyOrange, an India and Singapore-based materials handling startup, received $30 million in equity funding to ramp up production of their Butler shelves-to-picker robot system. GreyOrange currently has 300+ employees, which it plans to double with this new funding.

NEW JOINT VENTURES AND FUNDS:

Midea Group, a large Chinese home appliance maker, formed two joint ventures with Yaskawa Electric. Yaskawa is one of the worldwide Big Four manufacturers of industrial robots. Midea and Yaskawa wil invest a total of $65M in two new as-yet unnamed ventures. One will be focused on service robots. Midea will own 60% of this venture. The other will focus on industrial robots and Yaskawa will own 51%. Both new ventures will be based in Guangdong, China and will be responsible for research, manufacturing and marketing.

Midea hopes its expansion into the robot industry will help upgrade its own manufacturing and industrial automation. It also hopes that Yaskawa’s technologies and products in service robots will help Midea find new business opportunities as China addresses the economic impact of a huge aging population in the coming years.

GE Ventures, which has been activly investing in robotics startups (including the one to Clearpath Robotics described above), created a new $20M fund with Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) National Robotics Engineering Center. The new fund, The Robotics Hub AKA Coal Hill Ventures, will begin writing checks early in 2016 for anywhere between $200,000 and $2 million for 20 to 30 emerging robotics startup companies that will be part of The Robotics Hub.

The strategy that’s most important to GE is to really get behind startups and help them scale. A lot of companies can come with the money, but what we bring is the ability to scale and the opportunity to commercialize quite quickly.

Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report, and is also a panel member for Robohub's Robotics by Invitation series... read more



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