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August fundings and acquisitions

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05 September 2016



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August was another big month for funding robotic startups. 18 deals. Almost $430 million (bringing the year-to-date total well over $1 billion)! Plus, another $1 billion paid in August for four acquisitions. 

Fundings:

[Note that three of the companies receiving fundings this month were designers and manufacturers of solid-state LiDAR technology — Velodyne, Innoviz and Quanergy.]

  1. Airobotics, an Israeli UAV startup focusing on providing an all-purpose drone solution for industrial applications, raised $22.5 million (in February). Funders, led by CRV,  included BlueRun Ventures, Noam Bardin, Richard Wooldridge and UpWest Labs. The company has 70 employees.
  2. Blue Ocean Robotics, a Danish VC and accelerator, announced that an anonymous private investor bought 6.7% of Blue Ocean shares for $1.5 million. Blue Ocean intends to sell over 33% of their shares to get funds to finance their rapid growth (from 3 people in 2013 to 110 people today, plus 21 associated companies in 11 countries).
  3. DroneDeploy, a San Francisco-based startup has raised $20 million in Series B funding to (1) grow their drone data management platform and (2) for hiring, product development, sales and marketing. Scale Venture Partners led the investment and was joined by High Alpha Fund.  The DroneDeploy platform allows users to plan flights, pilot drones either one at a time or in fleet formations, and gather and analyze myriad data types to create detailed maps and 3-D models. The funding brings the company’s total capital raised to $31 million.
  4. Emotech, the UK-based maker of the Olly robot, a product similar to Amazon’s Echo device, has raised $10 million from Chinese venture investors Alliance Capital and Lightning Capital.
  5. Farmbot, a Central California startup offering an open source DIY robot and system for home gardens, raised $813,000 from a crowdfunding campaign.
  6. Farmers Business Network, an Iowa-based developer of an ag industry software and analytics system, raised $20 million to help farmers avoid spending on what they don’t need as they provide data to help compete with Monsanto and Dupont.
  7. Formlabs, a designer and manufacturer of 3D printing systems based in Somerville, Mass., has raised $35 million in Series B funding from Foundry Group and Autodesk.
  8. Glowforge, a Seattle-based 3D laser printer company, has raised $22 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Foundry Group and True Ventures. Last year Glowforge set a crowdfunding record by raising $27.9 million in just 30 days. Glowforge printers can be used to cut and engrave on pretty much any surface — exciting DIY and crafts people with their machine, which is smaller and less expensive than most alternatives.
  9. Innoviz Technologies, an Israel-based developer of sensors and systems for autonomous vehicles, has raised $9 million in Series A funding. The round included Vertex Venture Capital, Magma Venture Partners, Amiti Ventures, and Delek Investments. Innoviz joins two other LiDAR makers getting funding this month: Velodyne and Quanergy. Read more.
  10. Kraken Sonar Inc., a Canadian startup providing sonar, sensors and underwater robotics systems, closed a non-brokered private placement of 7,159,534 shares at a purchase price of $0.12 (USD) per share totaling $827,126.
  11. Mavrx, a San Francisco-based developer of aerial imagery technologies focused on the ag industry and big data, has secured $12.42 million of a Series A round, according to a regulatory filing.
  12. MicaSense, a Seattle-based agriculture sensor maker, raised $7.4 million from French drone and electronics company Parrot. The recent round piggybacks on Parrots’ previous $2m investment in the company in 2014. MicaSense creates sensor devices that attach to drones. RedEdge, its first product, is a multispectral camera able to capture data over precise wavelengths.
  13. NVBots, a Boston-based developer of automated 3D printing solutions, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Woodman Asset Management.
  14. Petnet, a Los Angeles startup providing personalized feeding for pets, raised $10 million in a Series A financing. Petco led the round.
  15. PRENAV, a Silicon Valley unmanned aerial systems startup, raised $6.5 million in seed financing from lead investor Crosslink Capital, along with Haystack, Liquid 2 Ventures, WI Harper Group and investors Pear Ventures, Toivo Annus, and a number of other investors.
    “Using drones to inspect structures such as cell towers and wind turbines typically requires an expert pilot because GPS isn’t adequate for close proximity flight,” according to Nathan Schuett, CEO of PRENAV.  “The PRENAV system is the first drone to be approved by the FAA that will enable these types of missions to be performed autonomously, where the flight is controlled by a bot on the ground.”
  16. Quanergy Systems Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based provider of solid state LiDAR sensors and smart sensing solutions, has raised $90 million at a valuation of over $1 billion. Backers include Sensata Technologies, Delphi Automotive, Samsung Ventures, Motus Ventures and GP Capital. Read more.
  17. Seegrid, a maker of vision-based autonomous industrial vehicles and systems, announced today that the company has raised approximately $12M of equity capital from Giant Eagle, its majority shareholder, and several other existing and new investors, and has a commitment for an additional $13M from Giant Eagle as needed.
    “Seegrid is poised to repeat its 100-percent revenue growth from last year,” said Jim Rock, Seegrid’s CEO. “Seegrid continues to expand its customer base, which currently includes leading global companies such as Whirlpool, Daimler, and Jaguar Land Rover. Our customers use Seegrid’s driverless autonomous vehicle robots to streamline their manufacturing and distribution operations and improve their outstanding safety processes.”
  18. Velodyne LiDAR, a Morgan Hill, Calif.-based provider of  technology that lets self-driving cars see and avoid what’s around them, has raised $150 million in equity funding from Ford Motor Co. and Baidu. Velodyne expects an exponential increase in LiDAR sensor deployments in autonomous vehicles and ADAS applications over the next several years, driving high revenue growth. To fulfil the high demand for Velodyne’s products, the company will continue to expand its resources across engineering, operations and manufacturing. In connection with this minority investment round, the Company plans to expand its board of directors to include two independent industry executives. Read more.

Acquisitions:

  1. Bionik Labs, a Canadian provider of rehab solutions for individuals with neurological disorders, acquired all of the outstanding shares, assets and liabilities of Interactive Motion Technologies, a Watertown, MA provider of upper extremity rehab robotics, in April, for $23.65 million.
  2. DPE Deutsche Private Equity has agreed to sell Westfalia Group, a German maker of towing equipment and integrator of robotic warehousing solutions, to Horizon Global Corp. for around $186 million (including assumed debt).
  3. Otto Motors, a SF startup developing self-driving truck system kits, was acquired by Uber for an undisclosed amount. Bloomberg suggests the price is $680 million assuming certain targets are met. The deal was worth about 0.9% of Uber. Also part of the deal, Otto gets 20% of any trucking business profits they end up creating. Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer and one of Otto’s founders, will take charge of Uber’s self-driving car operations as well as continuing to run Otto’s trucking business.
  4. Zimmer Biomet has entered the growing surgical robotics field with the purchase of France’s Medtech for an estimated $132 million. According to an SEC filing, Zimmer Biomet agreed to buy 1.4 million shares  from founder Bertin Nahum and other stockholders at a price of $55 per share, as well as all outstanding convertible bonds and warrants previously issued by Medtech to private equity firm Ally Bridge Group. In addition, as soon as possible, and subject to review by the French federal regulator, Zimmer will make an all-cash tender offer to acquire the balance of Medtech shares.

IPOs and stock related:

  • None

Failures:

  • Neros Automation (DK)


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





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