Robotics fundings, mergers, and acquisitions in July 2020 stayed at comparable levels with transactions from a year ago and June.
A decline in global investment did not directly affect robotics transactions in July 2020. In spite of the novel coronavirus pandemic and trade disputes, robotics companies raised more than $1.9 billion in funding last month. Autonomous vehicle companies received the most funding, followed by aerial drones, industrial automation, and healthcare systems.
Second-quarter venture funding reportedly declined in North America, and some regions, such as Southeast Asia, may have a lag before they feel the full effects of macroeconomic slowdowns. However, Robotics Business Review tracked a total of 47 transactions in July 2020, close to the 49 transactions worth about $1.9 billion last month and the 49 transactions worth $1.1 billion in July 2019. Shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic have eased in some parts of the world, and investor interest in automation remained steady.
Here are the robotics companies that received funding last month, in millions of U.S. dollars, where amounts were publicly available.
Robotics Investments, July 2020
|Activ Surgical Inc.
|Anduril Industries Inc.
|Beijing Rosenbot Technology Co.
|Kindred Capital, Capnamic Ventures
|pick and pack
|solar panel cleaning
|Efort Intelligent Equipment Co.
|Ascend Venture Capital
|FLIR Systems Inc.
|Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology Co.
|Aspex Management, Sequoia Capital China, Hillhouse Capital, Coatue Management
|Huake Precision (Beijing) Medical Technology Co.
|iMotion Automotive Technology Co.
|Foresight Group, Williams Advanced Engineering
|Spicehaus Swiss Venture Fund
|Sofinnova Partners MD Start III Fund
|Nanjing Estun Automation Co.
|China General Technology (Group) Holdings Co., Hubei Xiaomi Changjiang Industrial Fund Partnership
|NDR Medical Technology Pte. Ltd.
|Microport Scientific Corp.
|Pudu Technology Inc.
|ZhenFund, Ceyuan Venture
|ReWalk Robotics Ltd.
|RightHand Robotics Inc.
|Sea Machines Robotics Inc.
|Huntington Ingalls Industries
|Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.
|Standard Robots Co.
|Lightspeed China Partners, Source Code Capital
|Vertex Growth, Orion Fund
|Korean Development Bank
|Tianjin Deepinfar Occean Technology
|SDIC, Minsheng Securities, Tianjin TEDA Science and Technology Investment
|Navistar International Corp.
PitchBook reported that Q2 merger activity remained strong in Europe. The table below lists the six mergers and acquisitions from July 2020, in comparison with seven in June 2020 and eight a year ago. Amounts were not specified.
Robotics Acquisitions, July 2020
|Duke Robotics Inc.
|UAS Drone Corp.
|VayaVision Sensing Ltd.
|Velodyne Lidar Inc.
|Graf Industrial Corp.
Autonomous vehicles stay ahead in funding
Autonomous vehicle technologies raised more than $533 million in July 2020. The largest single robotics transaction of the past month was the $500 million Series C round of Guangzhou, China-based Xiaopeng Motors Technology Co., also known as Xpeng Motors. The maker of electric and self-driving cars had raised $400 million in November 2019 and also announced a $100 million U.S. initial public offering (IPO) in August 2020.
Adam Neumann, founder of WeWork, led Series B investment of $19 million in GoTo Global. Formerly known as Car2Go, Tel Aviv, Israel-based GoTo Global offers ride-sharing services and is supporting autonomous vehicle research. Suzhou, China-based iMotion Automotive Technology Ltd. raised $14 million toward ramping up to mass production of automated driving systems.
Vehicle manufacturer Navistar International Corp. has partnered with TuSimple LLC, which has been developing self-driving trucks. It also invested an unspecified amount in San Diego-based TuSimple, but TechCrunch had noted that the company was looking for $250 million to scale up production.
Manufacturing, supply chain robotics get funding in July 2020
Companies supplying robots for manufacturing and supply chain applications raised more than $325 million last month, as automotive demand began to rebound from pandemic shutdowns. Nanjing, China-based Estun Automation Co., which supplies industrial controls and welding robots, last month said it is raising $143 million.
Wuhu, China-based Efort Intelligent Equipment Co. filed for an initial public offering (IPO) of $118 million with the Shanghai stock exchange for the STAR Market. Also in China, Standard Robots in Shenzhen raised Series B funding of $14.3 million for mobile robotic systems for logistics and inspection.
Also in July 2020, Dexterity Inc. in Redwood City, Calif., obtained $56.2 million in Series A funding as it emerged from stealth with its “full stack” for robotic picking and packing. Somerville, Mass.-based gripper maker RightHand Robotics Inc. secured $6 million in financing.
Field robotics firms receive nearly $1B
Suppliers of robots and drones for agriculture, energy, and military uses raised close to $1 billion in July 2020. FLIR Systems Inc. announced a notes offering of $494 million. The Arlington, Va.-based company makes a variety of airborne, ground-based, and marine systems for the public safety, defense, and utility industries.
Andreessen Horowitz led $200 million in Series C funding for Irvine, Calif.-based Anduril Industries Inc., which provides surveillance technologies, including aerial drones. Redwood City, Calif.-based Skydio Inc., which makes consumer, enterprise, and public-sector drones, raised $100 million in Series C funding to accelerate product development and market growth.
Also in the national security space, UAS Drone Corp. acquired Duke Robotics Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for an undisclosed amount.
Ecoppia in Herzeliya, Israel, got investment of $40 million for its solar panel-cleaning robots. CMG has acquired shares in AMBPR, a startup in Saint-Gaudens, France, developing autonomous robots for infrastructure inspection and cleaning of ship hulls.
Tel Aviv, Israel-based Taranis-Visual Ltd., which analyzes drone data for agriculture, raised $30 million in Series C funding in July 2020. Petronas Ventures led an unspecified investment in agbotics developer Braintree Technologies Sdn. Bhd., its first in Malaysia. Denver-based Propellor Aero received $18 million in Series B funding for mine-mapping drones.
Beijing-based marine robotics maker Tianjin Deepinfar Ocean Technology closed a $17 million Series B+ round. Also in nautical systems, Huntington Ingalls Industries led the $14.9 million in Series B funding for Sea Machines Robotics Inc. in Boston. Ifremer acquired Paris-based Forssea Robotics for an unspecified sum.
Surgical systems obtain investment in July 2020
Despite a decline in medical device deals, healthcare robotics companies reported more than $61 million in funding last month. Boston-based Activ Surgical Inc. raised $15 million in venture funding as it commercializes its ActivEdge surgical platform. TransEnterix Inc. in Research Triangle Park, N.C., offered $13 million in stock as it continues work on its vision-guided surgical system.
Yokneam, Israel-based exoskeleton maker ReWalk Robotics Ltd. raised $9 million in July 2020. Back to surgical robots, NDR Medical Technology Pte. Ltd. in Singapore received $5.76 million in Series A funding, and MastOR SAS in Paris raised $3.37 million for its laparoscopy assistance system.
Beijing-based orthopedic surgical robot firm Rosenbot Technology Co. raised unspecified Series A funding, while Medtronic PLC invested in Huake Precision Medical Technology Co., also known as Sinovation Medical. Medtronic also acquired Lyon, France-based spinal surgery company Medicrea and Menlo Park, Calif.-based medical device maker Intersect ENT.
Avateramedical GmbH acquired Hannover, Germany-based surgical robotics firm FORWARDttc GmbH for an unspecified amount.
Robotics component providers make deals
Robotics components providers raised nearly $90 million in July 2020. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) sold $46.29 million in shares, and Zhaogun Electronics received $43.05 million in funding. Both companies make processors for artificial intelligence and are based in Shanghai.
LeddarTech acquired fellow automotive perception provider VayaVision in Tel Aviv for an unspecified amount. Similarly, Graf Industrial Corp. acquired lidar sensor maker Velodyne Lidar Inc. of Morgan Hill, Calif.
Baidu Ventures led Series A+ funding for Lightelligence, which is working on optical chips and has offices in Shanghai and Boston. Beijing-based radar firm Qinglei Technology reportedly closed “multimillion-yuan” angel funding in July 2020.
On the software side, InOrbit Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., said it raised seed funding of $2.6 million. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company provides a cloud-based robot fleet-management platform.
In addition, Guangzhou, China-based Chenjing Technology raised angel funding for its “spatial intelligence” software. Santa Monica, Calif.-based mvmtAI raised pre-seed funding as it develops machine vision technology.
Service robots round out July 2020
Service robots, from automated wait staff to cleaning robots, raised about $22 million in July 2020. Shenzhen-based indoor delivery robot maker Pudu Technology Inc. closed a Series B round of $15 million. London-based greeter robot firm BotsAndUs raised $5.96 million in Series A funding and partnered with Heathrow Airport and British Airways.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has increased interest in cleaning and disinfection robots. New York-based Somatic obtained $125,000 in seed funding for its bathroom-cleaning robots, and Swiss floor-scrubbing robot maker Kemaro AG raised unspecified Series A funding for European expansion.
Editors’ note: What defines robotics investments? The answer to this simple question is central in any attempt to quantify them with some degree of rigor. To make investment analyses consistent, repeatable, and valuable, it is critical to wring out as much subjectivity as possible during the evaluation process. This begins with a definition of terms and a description of assumptions.
Investors and investing
Investment should come from venture capital firms, corporate investment groups, angel investors, and other sources. Friends-and-family investments, government/non-governmental agency grants, and crowd-sourced funding are excluded.
Robotics and intelligent systems companies
Robotics companies must generate or expect to generate revenue from the production of robotics products (that sense, analyze, and act in the physical world), hardware or software subsystems and enabling technologies for robots, or services supporting robotics devices. For this analysis, autonomous vehicles (including technologies that support autonomous driving) and drones are considered robots, while 3D printers, CNC systems, and various types of “hard” automation are not.
Companies that are “robotic” in name only, or use the term “robot” to describe products and services that that do not enable or support devices acting in the physical world, are excluded. For example, this includes “software robots” and robotic process automation. Many firms have multiple locations in different countries. Company locations given in the analysis are based on the publicly listed headquarters in legal documents, press releases, etc.
Funding information is collected from a number of public and private sources. These include press releases from corporations and investment groups, corporate briefings, industry analysts, and association and industry publications, including PitchBook and Tracxn. In addition, information comes from sessions at conferences and seminars, as well as during private interviews with industry representatives, investors, and others. Unverifiable investments are excluded.
About the author:
Eugene Demaitre is senior editor at The Robot Report and Robotics Business Review. Prior to working at WTWH Media, he was an editor at BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, TechTarget, and EH Media. Demaitre has participated in robotics webcasts, podcasts, and conferences worldwide. He has a master’s from the George Washington University and lives in the Boston area.