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Robotics Fundings, Acquisitions and IPOs: June 2018

Twenty-seven startups raised money in June to the tune of $2.1 billion, another great month for robotics fundings! Also during June there were ten acquisitions and two IPOs. See below for details.

The top robotics fundings were:

  • Rockwell (NYSE:ROK) made a $1 billion equity investment in PTC (NASDAQ:PTC), an automation control software provider to government and industry.
  • Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is investing $500 million in JD (JingDong) (NASDAQ:JD), the Chinese equivalent to Amazon and China’s 2nd largest e-commerce provider.
  • Yitu Technology, a Chinese vision systems and AI startup, raised $200 million in a Series C funding.
  • CMR Surgical, the Cambridge, UK developer of the Versius surgical robotic system, raised $100 million in a Series B funding.

This month’s $2.1 billion in fundings brings the year-to-date total to $7.1 billion!

Robotics Fundings

PTC (NASDAQ:PTC)a IoT, Industry 4.0 and control software provider to government and industry, has partnered with Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK), the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information, “to accelerate growth for both companies and enable them to be the partner of choice for customers around the world who want to transform their physical operations with digital technology.” Rockwell is making a $1 billion equity investment in PTC as part of the deal in which the two agreed to align their respective smart factory technologies and industrial automation platforms.

JD (JingDong) (NASDAQ:JD)the Chinese equivalent to Amazon and China’s 2nd largest e-commerce provider, raised $500 million from Google/Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG). Like Amazon, JD is heavy in the automated logistics business and now, with this investment, JD plans to open restaurants staffed by robots starting this August and ramping up to 1,000 by 2020. The restaurants will serve 40 or fewer dishes with customers ordering and paying by smartphone.

JD is also involved in last mile deliveries and just launched 20 mobile robot carts in the Beijing area (each robot can deliver up to 30 different parcels). Google has been partnering and investing in smart logistics, online grocery shopping, virtual assistant shopping and same day delivery and this investment in JD adds to that effort.

Yitu Technologya Chinese vision systems and AI startup, raised $200 million in a Series C funding from ICBC International Holdings, SPDB International and Gaocheng Capital.

CMR Surgicalthe Cambridge, UK developer of the Versius surgical robot system, raised $100 million in a Series B funding round led by Zhejiang Silk Road Fund and included existing investors Escala Capital Investments, LGT, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Watrium. CMR employs over 200 people and is close to submitting its surgical robotic system for regulatory approval.

Quantum Surgicala French surgical robotics startup, raised $50 million in a Series A funding round led by Ally Bridge Group with participation from China’s Lifetech Scientific through its joint venture with Ally Bridge Group.

Bossa Nova Roboticsa San Francisco inventory management AI-enhanced robot maker, raised $29-million funding in a Series B-1 round led by Cota Capital, with participation from China Walden Ventures, LG Electronics, and Intel Capital, Lucas Venture Group, and WRV Capital.

Ceres Imaging, an Oakland, CA-based aerial spectral imagery and analytics company for the ag industry, raised $25 million in a Series B funding led by Insight Venture Partners and joined by Romulus Capital.

DroneDeploya San Francisco provider of software solutions for drones (automated safety checks, workflows and real-time mapping), raised $25 million in a Series C round led by Invenergy Future Fund with participation by Scale Venture Partners, AngelPad, Emergence Capital, AirTree Ventures and Uncork Capital.

Starship Technologies, the Estonian mobile robot delivery startup, raised $25 million in a seed round from existing investors Matrix Partners and Morpheus Ventures, along with extra funding from Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk and Skype founding engineer Jaan Tallinn. The money will go toward expanding the fleet which they forecast to exceed 1,000 robots across 20 work and academic campuses, as well as various neighborhoods, in the next year.

Silexicaa provider of AI-on-a-chip for ADAS vehicle applications, raised $18 million in a Series B round led by EQT Ventures Fund with previous investors Merus Capital, Paua Ventures, Seed Fonds Aachen, and DSA Invest.

Verity Studios, a Swiss indoor entertainment drone startup from one of the co-founders of Kiva Systems, raised $18 million in a Series A round led by Fontinalis Partners with Airbus Ventures, Sony Innovation Fund, and Kitty Hawk.

Matternet, a Silicon Valley developer of drone logistics solutions, raised $16 million in Series A funding. Boeing HorizonX Ventures led the round and was joined by Swiss Post, Sony Innovation Fund and Levitate Capital.

Andrew Alliance, a Swiss developer of a line of bench-top lab pipetting robots, raised $14 million in a Series C funding round from Tecan Group, the Waters Corporation, Inpeco, Rancilio Cube, Sam Eletr Trust and Omega Funds. Andrew Alliance has supplied 18 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies, the top four diagnostic companies, and 16 of the top 20 of the world’s leading academic research institutions with lab robots.

Savioke, the Silicon Valley hospitality robot maker, raised $13.4 million in a Series B funding from Brain Corp, Swisslog Healthcare, NESIC and Recruit. Swisslog will help open up a new market for Savioke: hospital point-to-point delivery helping nurses, lab techs and other healthcare workers deliver essential items throughout the hospital.

For years, Savioke built its autonomous navigation stack from scratch using ROS. Going forward, Savioke will integrate the BrainOS platform. This will allow Savioke to spend more time developing domain-specific tasks for new areas such as healthcare. One task Cousins discussed was authentication. Savioke uses hotel room doors to authenticate it system, but Cousins says this won’t work in hospitals. In hospitals this needs to be done using RFID, which Savioke is adding to the Relay robots.

“We want to focus on areas where Savioke can be unique, not on areas where we don’t have a competitive advantage,” says Savioke founder and CEO Steve Cousins. “Brain Corp. is doing some interesting stuff that is potentially game-changing in terms of the cost. They’re able to command volume pricing on sensors that we can’t. And they’re engineering things to fit together nicely.”

NextInputa Silicon Valley developer of MEMS-based force-sensor solutions, raised $13 million in a Series B funding round from Sierra Ventures, Cota Capital and UMC Capital.

Hailo Technologies, an Israeli chip making startup developing deep learning capabilities on edge devices, raised $12.5 million in a Series A round from Ourcrowd.com, Maniv Mobility, Next Gear; Zohar Zisapel and Gil Agmon.

Sphero (Orbotix)a Colorado-based robotic toymaker (think Star Wars, Spider Man and Lightning Mcqueen), raised $12.1 million as the first part of a $20 million fundraising led by Mercato Partners. Sphero spun out Misty Robotics to handle new robot toy business, readjusted its staff after a lackluster holiday sales season, and is remaking itself into an education-first robotics company.

WaterBit, a Silicon Valley precision ag irrigation system provider, raised $11.4 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates and including TJ Rodgers and Heuristic Capital.

Chowboticsthe Silicon Valley salad-making robot, raised $11 million in a Series A-1 funding round led by the Foundry Group and Techstars. They will use the funding to develop grain, breakfast, poke, açai and yogurt bowls.

Box Bot, a Berkeley-based developer of autonomous delivery robots, raised $7.5 million in seed funding. Artiman Ventures led the round and was joined by Pear Ventures, Afore Capital, Ironfire Ventures and The House Fund.

Kittyhawk, a San Francisco-based drone innovation company, raised $5 million in a Series A funding round led by Bonfire Ventures and joined by Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Freestyle Capital.

Smart Agan Iowa developer of an aftermarket kit for driverless tractors, and AutoCart, a plug-and-play system that automates existing grain cart tractors, raised $5 million from Stine See Farm.

CyPhy Workssans founder Helen Greiner, raised $4.5 million from unknown sources in a Series C funding round. CyPhy provides “persistent” tethered drone platforms for defense and public safety. The company previously raised ~$35 million. Its backers include Bessemer Venture Partners, Draper Nexus, Lux Capital, and investment arms of UPS and Motorola. Greiner is now working with the U.S. Army on robotics and artificial intelligence initiatives.

Chasing Innovation Technologya Shenzhen startup making underwater drone products, raised $3 million in a Seed round from Shenzhen Capital Group.

InterModalics/Pick-it, a Belgian vision system provider for co-bots, raised $2.9 million from Urbain Vandeurzen and PMV to provide growth capital for the Pick-it vision and distancing device.

Acryla Korean voice and emotion recognition AI startup, raised around $934,000 from LG Electronics (which equated to a 10% stake in the venture).

Centaurs Tech (Chewrobot)a Chinese and American voice processing startup, raised an undisclosed Series A amount from Zongton Capital, Leaguer Venture Capital and Boyaa Interactive.

Acquisitions

Bonsai AIa Berkeley software and AI startup, was acquired by Microsoft (in what might be called an acqui-talent grab) for an undisclosed amount. Bonsai’s 45+ employees will be used by Microsoft to build the machine learning model for autonomous systems of all types.

Carter Control Systems, a Maryland integrator of material handling logistics systems for high-volume mail handlers and postal automation, was acquired by Systems Solutions of Kentucky, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lummus, a legacy provider of machinery and parts for cotton gin companies, for an undisclosed amount. Systems Solutions is an integrator of letter, parcel, baggage and cargo sortation devices and conveyor equipment. Carter offers a full range of robotic solutions for picking, packing, machine tending, assembly and palletizing.

ESYS Automationa Michigan industrial robotics integrator, was acquired for an undisclosed amount by JR Automation Technologies, also an industrial robotics integrator.

FFT Production Systems, a German integrator of industrial robots, was acquired by Chinese conglomerate Fosun International for an undisclosed amount. FFT provides complete vehicles and production plants for Tier 1 equipment makers in Germany, the USA, Japan, China and other countries. In 2017, FFT recorded revenues of over $984 million and employs over 2,600 people.

HEXAGON (STO:HEXA-B)the Swedish conglomerate integrating sensors and software into precision measuring technologies, acquired American AutonomouStuff, a developer and supplier of autonomous vehicle solutions, for an undisclosed amount estimated to be around $160 million. Hexagon has ~18,000 employees and net sales of ~$4.2 billion. During 2017 Hexagon acquired MSC, Vires, Catavolt and Luciad to enhance their autonomous, visualization and mobile capabilities. AutonomouStuff joined Baidu’s Apollo project team working on autonomous vehicle solutions earlier this year and had 2017 sales of $45 million.

MyStemKitsan Atlanta-based STEM learning kit that uses 3D printed items, was acquired by Robo 3D, a San Diego 3D printing equipment and supplies provider, for an undisclosed amount.

OnFarm Systemsa Fresno, CA-based SaaS for farmers, was acquired by Swiim, a Denver, CO irrigation system provider, for an undisclosed amount. The plan for the acquisition is to integrate SWIIM’s water balance monitoring and reporting data into the OnFarm dashboard thereby creating a more user-friendly product for SWIIM’s clients.

On Robota Danish gripper maker startup, has become the remaining name in the 3-way merger/acquisition of On Robot, OptoForce, a Hungarian force sensor provider and Perception Robotics, a Los Angeles gripper and tactile sensor developer. No financial information was provided.

RedZone Roboticsa Pittsburgh-based multi-sensor inspection provider for wastewater pipeline systems founded 30 years ago by famed roboticist “Red” Whittaker, was acquired by a group of investors led by Milestone Partners and including ABS Capital Partners, for an undisclosed purchase price.

Scott Technology (NZ:SCT)a NZ-based food handling robotics provider, has acquired the assets and IP of Transbotics (OTCMKTS:TNSB)an American AGV manufacturer. No financial details were provided.

IPOs

Albert Analytical Technology (TYO:3906)a Japanese analytics firm developing AI for self-driving vehicles, issued shares to Toyota Motor in return for $3.6 million of cash “For technological innovation as in the development of automated driving technologies with advanced analytical capacity centered on AI and machine learning.”

Odico Formwork Robotics (CPH:ODICO), a Danish construction robotics provider, issued 10 million shares to trade on the Nasdaq First North Denmark Exchange.

By: Frank Tobe, ROBO Global Strategic Advisor & Editor of The Robot Report

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