$11.2 million to Virtual Incision, a startup developing robotically assisted surgical devices, and another $11 million to Jibo, the company founded by Cynthia Breazeal of HRI fame from the MIT Media Lab. Money continues to flow to robotics.
Jibo, Inc., the company behind the social robot Jibo which last year had the successful $3.7Â million Indiegogo crowdfunding, is now focusing their partneringÂ to those that are strategic and concentrate on the Asian market. The lineup of investors in this $11M add-on to the previous $25.3M Series A round includes:
- Acer, a Taiwanese hardware and software manufacturer
- Dentsu Ventures, a Japanese VC with a focus on marketing, media, social media and design
- KDDI, an Asian telecom carrier (read on to see how other telecom companies, namely NTT and SoftBank, are also investing in social robots)
- LG, a Korean telecom operator and manufacturer
- NetPosa, a Chinese online services provider
With this $11M, Jibo has now raised $38.6M and has announced a production schedule beginning in late Fall 2015 and through Spring 2016 for crowdfunded orders and preorders. Additional orders are waitlisted.
It’s easy to see that this round of funding focuses on the a serious expansion into the Asian market – the same marketplace where SoftBank and partners Alibaba and Foxconn are bringing their Pepper robot to market and NTT and Vstone are readying their Sota companion tabletop robot to compete. All the telcom giants want to participate in this new trend toward home social robots and devices to get the monthly Internet service slice of the pie. SoftBank is charging $100 per month for Pepper’s connection services.
Virtual Incision Corp., a developer of an in vivo mini-robot surgical device enabling minimally invasive colon and abdominal procedures, received $11.2 million which brings their total funding to date to $25.7M. Virtual Incision’sÂ robotically-assisted surgical device is an investigational device and is not commercially available.
In their press release VIC saidÂ the funds will be used for a feasibility study on the use of the companyâs miniaturized robotically assisted surgical technology for colon resection, a procedure performed to treat patients with lower gastrointestinal diseases such as diverticulitis, Crohnâs disease, inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.