NOVEMBER 2017 ROBOTICS FUNDINGS, ACQUISITIONS AND IPOS
By: Frank Tobe, ROBO Global Strategic Advisor, The Robot Report
Twenty-two different startups were funded in November cumulatively raising $782 million, down a bit from the $862 million in October. The big $400 million funding for UBTech and the $55 million for TuSimple were the only two fundings over $50 million and they were both for Chinese startups with funding from Chinese VC firms.
Six acquisitions were reported during the month including another takeover of a European robotics company by a Chinese one.
On the IPO front, three existing publicly-traded stocks announced additional shares to raise additional funds.
- Ubtech, a Shenzhen-based humanoid robots maker startup, raised $400 million in a Series C round led by Tencent Holdings (which invested $40 million in the round). Ubtech (Union Brothers Technology) builds and sells toy robots. Their most recent is a $300 Star Wars Stormtrooper robot which will ship just before the movie debuts mid-December.
- TuSimple, a Chinese startup providing autonomous driving technology for the trucking industry, raised $55 million in a Series C round led by Fuhe Capital with Zhiping Capital and SINA Corp. Note that TuSimple raised $20 million in August in a Series B round.
- Markforged, a Watertown, MA maker of carbon fiber and metal 3D printing devices, raised $30 million in a Series C round led by Siemens’ next47 venture firm. Microsoft Ventures and Porsche SE also participated along with existing investors Matrix Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, and Trinity Ventures.
- Kindred Systems, a Toronto warehousing AI startup, raised $27.5 million in a Series B round led by First Round Capital with participation by Tencent Holdings and Eclipse. Kindred is building human-like intelligence in machines. It’s first commercial offering is Kindred Sort, a put wall integration of arm, gripper and software to pick and sort random objects.
- Locus Robotics, an Andover, MA-based provider of mobile robots for e-commerce fulfillment warehouses, raised $25 million in a Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners with participation by existing investors.
- Optimus Ride, a MIT spinoff company developing self-driving technology, raised $18 million in Series A funding. Greycroft Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Emerson Collective, Fraser McCombs Capital and Joi Ito.
- Bossa Nova, a San Francisco-based developer of autonomous service robots for the global retail industry, raised $17.5 million in Series B funding. Paxion led the round, and was joined by investors including Intel Capital, WRV Capital, Lucas Venture Group, and Cota Capital.
- Riverfield Surgical Robot Lab, a Japanese startup and spin-off from the Tokyo Inst of Technology, raised $10 million in a Series B round from Toray Engineering, SBI Investment and JAFCO Japan.
- Arbe Robotics, an Israeli radar collision avoidance platform, raised $9 million in a Series A round. O.G. Tech Ventures and OurCrowd led the round, with previous investors Canaan Partners, iAngels, and Taya Ventures also participating. Arbe is also developing radar for autonomous vehicles that facilitates real-time mapping at distances up to 300 meters.
- AUBO Robotics (prev named Smokie), a Chinese co-bot manufacturer, raised $9 million in a Series A round by Fosun RZ Capital. “When we decided to manufacture in China we had to be incorporated in China to get the incentives. They had to have a name change because the laws in China state that the name be a Chinese name. AUBO or AU BO loosely translated means ‘New Technology’. The AUBO-i5 production is in Changzhou and we also have R&D in Beijing and Knoxville TN,” said Aubo’s VP of Sales Peter Farkas.
- Beijing TechX Aviation Innovation, a Chinese drone startup for military and high-end industrial users, raised $7.5 million in a Series A round from Fosun RZ Capital.
- Leju Robotics, a Shenzhen startup developing humanoid robots for the service industry, raised $7.4 million (in August) from Green Pine Capital Partners and Tencent.
- Embodied Intelligence, an Emeryville, CA startup developing teaching AI for existing robots, raised $7 million in a seed round led by Amplify Partners with participation from Lux Capital, SV Angels, FreeS, 11.2 Capital and A.Capital.
- Apis Cor, a Moscow startup using a massive robotic 3D device for printing concrete, raised $6 million (in September) in a seed round from Rusnano Sistema Sicar venture fund.
- Rokae, a Chinese startup making lightweight/lightload industrial robot arms, raised $6 million in a Series A round from THG Ventures, the venture arm of Tsinghua Holdings, and Delin Capital.
- AerDrone Intl, a startup of Irelandia Aviation Drones, both of Dublin, raised $5 million in seed funding from Irelandia to provide leasing funding for drone users.
- GJS Robot, a Shenzhen startup making personalized fighting robots known as Ganker robots, raised an undisclosed Series A investment estimated to be $5 million, from Tencent Holdings.
- Catalia Health, a San Francisco-based healthcare startup providing an AI-powered patient engagement platform, raised $4 million in pre-Series A funding. Ion Pacific led the round.
- TortugaAgTech, a Colorado ag robotics startup, raised $2.6 million (in September) from SVG Partners and Thrive AgTech Ventures. Tortuga is developing robotics for indoor farming operations.
- Ceres Imaging, the Oakland, CA aerial imagery and analytics company, raised an additional $2.5 million for their May, 2017 Series A round (which raised $5M). Romulus Capital was the sole investor.
- Wink Robotics, a startup focused on using robotics, AI and machine vision for the beauty industry, raised $1.73 million (in August) in seed funding from undisclosed sources.
- Natilus, a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of large aircraft drones to haul freight, raised seed funding of an undisclosed amount. Investors included Starburst Ventures, Seraph Group, Gelt VC, Outpost Capital and Draper Associates.
- Dash Robotics, a Hayward, CA connected toys developer, acquired Austin, TX-based Bots Alive, a robotics and AI hobby kit and toy developer, for an undisclosed amount.
- Huachangda Intelligent Equipment, a Chinese industrial robot integrator servicing primarily the auto industry, has acquired Swedish Robot System Products (RSP), for an undisclosed amount. RSP manufacturers grippers, welding systems, tool changers and other peripheral products for robots.
- Atronix Engineering, a GA-based industrial robot system integrator, was acquired by MHS (Material Handling Systems), a KY-based integrator of material handling systems, for an undisclosed amount. In April, 2017, MHS was itself acquired by Thomas H. Lee Partners, a Boston-based equity fund.
- Mapbox, a DC and SF nav systems provider for car companies, acquired a 4-person Minsk, Belarus mapping startup, MapData, for an undisclosed amount. Just last month Mapbox raised $164 million in a round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund. The deal spearheads the hiring of more engineers to help build its next big product, an SDK that will let developers build augmented reality-based maps into their apps that will work by way of the front-facing cameras on people’s devices.
- Argo AI, a Pittsburgh autonomous vehicles and AI startup, using some of the $1 billion it raised from Ford, acquired Princeton Lightwave for an undisclosed amount. Princeton is a New Jersey manufacturer of real-time Geiger-mode LiDAR technology.
- Tesla acquired Perbix, a Minnesota integrator of automated machines and industrial robotics that had been a contract supplier to Tesla for many years, for around $10.5 million.
- Titan Medical (TSE:TMD), a Canadian single-port surgical robot device maker, announced an offering of shares for a minimum of $14,000,000 and a maximum $18,000,000. Titan will issue shares at a price of CDN $0.50 per Unit and each Unit is comprised of one common share and one warrant, exercisable for one Common Share at a price of CDN $0.60, for a period of 5 years following the closing of the Offering.
- Myomo (NYSEMKT:MYO), a Cambridge, MA-based exoskeleton provider, announced an offering of 1.5 million shares of common stock and warrants to purchase an additional 750,000 shares at a price of $6.25 per share for 1/2 a warrant. Myomo hopes to raise $8.5 on the initial offering with an additional $1.4 million from an underwriter’s option.
- Fastbrick Robotics (ASX:FBR), an Australian brick-laying startup, raised $26.5 million by offering 184 million shares in a private placement. This is in addition to the $2 million investment in July by Caterpillar who will be manufacturing, selling and servicing Fastbrick’s technology mounted on Caterpillar equipment.
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