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AUGUST 2017: ROBOTICS FUNDINGS, ACQUISITIONS, IPOS & FAILURES

By: Frank Tobe, Strategic Advisor to ROBO Global, The Robot Report

August robotics fundings totaled $369 million but the number of August transactions, seven, was down from previous months, eg: both July and June had 19 fundings each. Acquisitions, on the other hand, remained steady with a big one pending: Snap has been negotiating all month to acquire Chinese drone startup Zero Zero Robotics for around $150M.

FUNDINGS

  • Auris Medical Robotics, the Silicon Valley startup headed by Dr. Frederic H. Moll who previously co-founded Hansen Medical and Intuitive Surgical, raised $280 million in a Series D round led by Coatue Management and included earlier investors Mithril Capital Management, Lux Capital, and Highland Capital. Auris has raised a total of $530 million and is developing targeted, minimally invasive robotic-assisted therapies that treat only the diseased cells in order to prevent the progression of a patient’s illness. Lung cancer is the first disease they are targeting.
  • Oryx Visionan Israeli startup, raised $50 million in a round led by Third Point Ventures and WRV with participation by Union Tech Ventures. They all join existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Maniv Mobility, and Trucks VC, a VC firm focused on the future of transportation. The company has raised a total of $67 million to date. Oryx is developing a LiDAR for self-driving automobiles using microscopic antennas to detect the light frequencies. The tiny antennas are made of silicon which allows them to put thousands in one sensor thereby lowering the cost of LiDAR distancing. The advantage is increased range and sensitivity for an autonomous vehicle that needs to know exactly what is surrounding it and what those things are doing and can see through fog and not get blinded by bright sunlight.
  • TuSimplea Chinese startup developing driverless technologies for the trucking industry, raised $20 million in a Series B funding round led by Nvidia with participation by Sina. Nvidia will own a 3% stake in TuSimple while the startup will support the development of the Nvidia’s artificial intelligence computing platform for self-driving vehicles, Drive PX2.
  • Atlas Dynamics, a Latvian/Israeli drone startup, raised $8 million from investment groups in Israel and in Asia. The 3-rotor Atlas Pro drone operates autonomously with interchangeable payloads and offers 55 minutes of flight time.
  • Common Sense Robotics, an Israeli warehouse fulfillment robotics startup, raised $6 million from Aleph VC and Innovation Endeavors. CommonSense is developing small urban, automated spaces that combine the benefits of local distribution with the economics of automated fulfillment. In big cities these ‘micro-centers’ would receive, stock, and package merchandise of participating vendors based on predictive algorithms. Vendors would then arrange last-mile delivery solutions.
  • Sky-Futures, a London-based industrial inspection services with drones startup, raised $4 million in funding from Japanese giant Mitsui & Co. The announcement came as part of Theresa May’s just-concluded trip to Japan. Sky Futures and Mitsui plan to provide inspections and other services to Mitsui’s clients across a range of sectors. Mitsui, a trading, investment and service company, has 139 offices in 66 countries.
  • Ambient Intelligence Technologya Japanese underwater drone manufacturer spin-off from the University of Tsukuba, raised $1.93 million from Beyond Next Ventures and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, and Freebit Investment. Ambient’s ROVs can operate for prolonged periods of autonomous operation at depths of 300 meters.

ACQUISITIONS

  • Dupont Pioneer has acquired farm management software platform startup Granular for $300 million. San Francisco-based Granular’s farm management software helps farmers run more profitable businesses by enabling them to manage their operations and analyze their financials for each of their fields in real time and to create reports for third parties like landowners and banks. Last year they partnered with the American Farm Bureau Insurance Services to streamline crop insurance data collection and reporting and also have a cross-marketing arrangement with Deere.
  • L3 Technologies acquired Massachusetts-based OceanServer Technology for an undisclosed amount. “OceanServer Technology positions L3 to support the U.S. Navy’s vision for the tactical employment of UUVs. This acquisition also enhances our technological capabilities and strengthens our position in growth areas where we see compelling opportunity,” said Michael T. Strianese, L3’s Chairman and CEO. “As a leading innovator and developer of UUVs, OceanServer Technology provides L3 with a new growth platform that is aligned with the U.S. Navy’s priorities.”
  • KB Medical, SA, a Swiss medical robotics startup, was acquired by Globus Medical, a musculoskeletal solutions manufacturer, for an undisclosed amount. This is the 2nd acquisition of a robotics startup by Globus. They acquired Excelsius Robotics in 2014. “The addition of KB Medical will enable Globus Medical to accelerate, enhance and expand our product portfolio in imaging, navigation and robotics. KB Medical’s experienced team of technology development professionals, its strong IP portfolio, and shared philosophy for robotic solutions in medicine strengthen Globus Medical’s position in this strategic area,” said Dave Demski of Emerging Technologies.
  • Jenoptika Germany-based laser components manufacturer of vision systems for automation and robotics, acquired Michigan-based Five Lakes Automation, an integrator and manufacturer of robotic material handling systems, for an undisclosed amount.
  • Honeybee Roboticsthe Brooklyn-based robotic space systems provider, was acquired by Ensign-Bickford for an undisclosed amount. Ensign-Bickford is a privately held 181-year-old contractor and supplier of space launch vehicles and systems. “The timing is great,” said Kiel Davis, President of Honeybee Robotics. “Honeybee has a range of new spacecraft motion control and robotics products coming to market. And EBI has the experience and resources to help us scale up and optimize our production operations so that we can meet the needs of our customers today and in the near future.”

IPOS

  • Duke Robotics, a Florida and Israeli developer of advanced robotic systems that provide troops with aerial support and other technologies developed in Israel, has filed and been qualified for a stock offering of up to $15 million under SEC Tier II Reg A+ which allows anyone, not just wealthy investors, to be able to purchase stock from approved equity crowdfunding offers.

FAILURES

  • C&R Robotics (KR)
  • EZ-Robotics (CN)
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