October fundings, acquisitions, IPOs and failures

02 November 2016

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October fundings for robotics-related startups totaled $291.75 million bringing the year-to-date funding figure very close to $1.5 billion. For acquisitions, three of the six companies acquired reported that $390.5 million traded hands. All in all, another strong month for robotics.

UPDATE #1 11/2/2016: Supporting the “another strong month for robotics” statement is an announcement from the RIA (Robotic Industries Association) that robot orders and shipments in North America set new records in the first nine months of 2016. A total of 23,985 robots valued at $1.3 billion were ordered from North American companies in the first nine months of 2016, an increase of 7% in units and 3% in dollars over the same period in 2015, which held the previous record.

UPDATE #2 11/2/2016: Fortune originally report the funding for Rokid as $65 million. They revised it to “more than $50 million.”


Zymergen, an Emeryville, Calif.-based biological materials engineering company that leverages both robotics and big data, has raised $130 million in Series B funding. SoftBank Group led the round, and was joined by Iconiq Capital, Prelude Ventures, and Tao Capital Partners and return backers Data Collective, True Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, DFJ, Innovation Endeavors, Obvious Ventures and Two Sigma Ventures. Zymergen is attempting to produce industrial chemicals used in making products such as soap, ink and paint – a $3 trillion market. By creating the building blocks of these products from non-petroleum sources and creating microbes automated in what they call ‘Robotics for high-throughput biology.’ Read more.

Rokid, a Silicon Valley and Chinese AI and robotics company with a novel Jibo-like social assistant, has raised around $50 million in Series B funding. Advantech led the round, and was joined by existing investors IDG Capital Partners and Walden International.

Navya, a French developer of driverless electric and robotic vehicles, has raised $33 million in new VC funding. Keolis, Valeo and Group8 (Qatar) were joined by return backers Rebolution Capital (now part of 360 Capital Partners, CapDecisif Management and Gravitation.

Clearpath Robotics, a Canadian mobility company, raised $30M in a Series B funding round led by iNovia Capital with participation from Caterpillar Ventures, GE Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, RRE Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. The bulk of the capital will be used to scale up manufacturing, hire employees and expand go-to-market strategies for the self-driving vehicles made with Clearpath’s OTTO division for materials handling and transport in factory and warehouse environments.

“Factories operate like small indoor cities, complete with roads, traffic, intersections and pedestrians,” said Matt Rendall, CEO, and co-founder of Clearpath. “Unlike city streets, a factory floor is a controlled environment, which makes it an ideal place to introduce self-driving vehicles at scale. Companies like Google, Tesla and Uber are still testing, whereas our self-driving vehicles are commercially available today.”

Oryx Vision, an Israel-based developer of solid state depth sensing solutions for autonomous vehicles, has raised $17 million in Series A funding. Bessemer Venture Partners led the round and was joined by Maniv Mobility and Trucks VC.

Chronocam, a French startup developing bio-inspired vision systems for autonomous vehicles, received $15 million in a Series B round led by Intel Capital, Renault, 360 Capital Partners, iBionext Growth Fund, and Robert Bosch Venture Capital.

Hangar Technology, an Austin, Texas-based developer of autonomous data capture using drone technology, has raised $6.5 million in seed funding led by Lux Capital. Hangar is presently in hiring mode and beta testing its drone photography on real estate sites.

Optimus Ride, a Boston-based developer of autonomous driving technology, has raised $5.25 million in seed funding co-led by NextView Ventures and FirstMark Capital.

Modbot, a San Francisco startup, raised $4 million in a seed round led by Visionnaire Ventures and included Eclipse, AME Cloud Ventures, Morado Ventures and Autodesk, Inc.

“We’re seeing the emergence of a new era for robotics. Robotic systems are being democratized and becoming accessible to a rapidly growing audience, which is a key force shaping the future of making things,” said Maurice Conti, director of applied research and innovation at Autodesk.

“Our collaboration with Modbot is aimed at advancing robotics research so we can equip manufacturers of all sizes to take advantage of technologies that were once available to only a few large companies. Modbot is a pioneer in this area and we’re already seeing great results from our work together.”

OptoForce, a Hungarian sensor maker, received an undisclosed amount of equity funding from Danish investor (and prev CEO of UR) Enrico Krog Iversen and two VCs that invested in previous funding rounds. Iversen will join OptoForce’s board of directors.

OnRobot, an Odense, Denmark startup that manufactures a grasping device that can easily adapt to Universal Robots and other co-bots, got around $1M in equity funding from Enrico Krog Iversen, Thomas Visti and The Danish Growth Fund.


Delair-Tech, a French UAS manufacturer, has acquired Gatewing from Trimble and also signed a strategic alliance with both Trimble and Microdrones, a German UAS maker, to be Trimbles preferred providers for UAS solutions. 100+ Gatewing employees are involved in the sale, however, no financial terms were disclosed.

“This transaction is part of our continuing program to tighten our corporate focus,” said Ron Bisio, vice president of Trimble’s Geospatial Division. “Trimble will remain actively engaged in the market by leveraging its brand-agnostic software technology for a broader range of UAS platforms.”

Rockwell Automation, an industrial automation and information conglomerate, acquired Maverick Technologies, a large American integrator of industrial robots, for an undisclosed amount.

FLIR Systems, a big vision systems provider, acquired Point Grey Research, a developer of machine vision cameras for use in industrial, retail, scientific, traffic, mapping, and other advanced imaging applications, for approximately $253 million in cash.

Howco, a provider of construction, transportation, mining and heavy equipment spare and replacement parts to customers worldwide, was acquired by Drone Services USA for $3.5 million to add an international and West Coast distribution capability and presence. Drone Services USA plans to continue acquiring companies to enable it to become a primary developer and manufacturer of low altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and related technologies.

OPS-Ingersoll, a Germany-based integrator of robots and automation systems for the mould and die industry, sold a substantial but minority interest to two Chinese partners: Leeport Holdings and Guangdong Greatoo Molds. The goal is to optimize a strategic position in Asia through the two partners’ networks.

Shenyang Blue Silver Group (SBS Group), China, acquired 85% of the Ecoclean Group within the Dürr Group for around $134 million in August. The Ecoclean Group has annual sales of $224 million, 850 employees and 10 sites in 8 countries, and provides cleaning and surface processing systems – some of which are robotic – for industrial part manufacturers, mainly in the auto industry. Dürr is a provider of painting, sealing and handling robots for the global auto industry. Shenyang Blue Silver has 700 employees and also has $224 million in annual sales. One of their activities is as an integrator of industrial robots for material handling.

Ralf W. Dieter, CEO of Dürr AG: “We are pleased to have found in SBS Group an ideal strategic partner for Ecoclean. The SBS Group has a clear strategic focus on machinery for processing parts in engine and transmission production and will be gaining in Ecoclean a company that is well positioned in this area.”

IPOs and Failures


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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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