Ten more fundings of robotic companies (47 so far in 2015); three more acquisitions (bringing the 2015 total to 28); and an important strategic partnership all took place in October and November and are recapped below.
UPDATED 11/30/2015: Adds the November acquisition of Blue Belt Technologies by Smith & Nephew for $275 million. Blue Belt has been working on, and plans to launch in 2017, a total knee system, and has hip arthroplasty in its pipeline.
Medrobotics, the Raynham, MA developer of the Flex Robotic System, a snake-like minimally invasive system to reach into locations that were previously difficult to reach, closed a $25 million preferred stock financing package with existing shareholders. Proceeds will be used to expand the commercialization process of the Flex Robot System which received FDA approval in July.
Aeryon Labs, a Canadian military and first responder drone and vision systems maker, secured $45.9 million from Boston-based Summit Partners.
“In the last four years, we have grown 100 percent year-over-year in terms of sales and we’ve been profitable too, and we now expect that to move into the 200 percent sales growth range over the next couple of years,” said Aeryon’s Chief Executive Dave Kroetsch in an interview. “The cash infusion from Summit Partners will not only help the firm boost sales, but also more than double its headcount to about 200 people, most of whom will be based in and around its headquarters in Waterloo.”
SkySpecs, an Ann Arbor, Michigan startup integrating an automated, drone-based data collection, vision, and analytics service for wind turbine and infrastructure inspection, received $3 million in equity funding. SkySpecs also received an FAA waiver to fly its drones commercially and landed its first two wind turbine inspection customers.
Righthand Robotics, a Cambridge, MA stealthy startup and developer of a 3-fingered dexterous gripper, raised $3.3 million from angel investors and VCs to continue developing their intelligent robotic order-picking system. RightHand’s technology, with flexible grasping and fingertip barometric and tactile sensors, enables items which can be grasped by “feel”.
Jibo, the social intelligent humanoid, received additional funding of an undisclosed amount from Fenox Venture Capital, a Silicon Valley-based VC firm. Fenox has arranged partnerships with SEGA SAMMY Holdings and CAC Holdings to help Jibo expand its sales and marketing in Japan and throughout the Asian marketplace.
CyPhy Works, a Danvers, MA startup headed by ex-iRobot co-founder and President Helen Greiner, received $22 million after raising an additional $900K from a Kickstarter campaign. CyPhy’s tether technology enable its drones to stay aloft indefinitely, stream what it sees in high definition, and have its communications be secure and unjammable thereby valuable to defense, security, police, fire fighters and search operators.
Petnet, the manufacturer of a smart feeder for cats and dogs, raised $4 million from Amazon, iRobot and Black River, to expand and build out its digital supply chain strategy for pet owners.
MiR Mobile Industrial Robots received $1.436 million from five Danish investors after turning down offers from American, Chinese and EU VCs. The Danish startup of a mobile robotic platform for logistics chose five Danish investors who are investing their own money in MiR. This is a similar financing path that Universal Robots took and UR’s CTO Esben Østergaard is one of those investors.
“After having been in dialog with a number of large and interesting investors, who each, of course, had their own agendas and wishes for strong influence, I stopped and thought: What is really important to a growth business? To be in control yourself and have freedom to act fast and in time! Consequently, I explored the possibilities among the existing owners, the board of directors and the network around MiR, and here a picture quickly emerged of an obvious, strong team of dedicated Danish investors. As I see it, we now have the required growth capital as well as the right competencies among the board members and owners in relation to where MiR is now,” says Thomas Visti, CEO.
Bionik Labs, a Canadian medical robotics startup company that develops exoskeleton solutions for people with restricted physical mobility, sold $6.2 million in stock and warrants (in February, 2015) in a private placement.
Corepath Robotics, a Danish startup using new-tech training methods to teach welding, milling and plasma cutting robots how to flexibly handle low-volume tasks, received $355K from two Danish VC funds.
ConMed, a New York state medical tech provider of surgical devices for minimally invasive procedures, acquired SurgiQuest for $265 million. SurgiQuest’s AirSeal system enables access for robotics and laparoscopy procedures and has been used in more than 250K procedures in over 45 countries.
Kraken Sonar, a Newfoundland startup, acquired the unmanned marine assets and intellectual property of Marine Robotics, Inc.
“We believe that the ocean drone market is at an inflection point and set for major growth,” said Karl Kenny, President and CEO of Kraken. “This acquisition brings us a significant underwater technology and IP portfolio and continues to build on our sensors-to-systems strategy to be a market leader in the Unmanned Maritime Systems industry.”
Included in the assets acquired are underwater robotics technology, IP and related physical assets — including an operational SQX-500 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle. In addition, the majority of the senior electrical, mechanical and software engineers that were previously employed by Marine Robotics Inc. are now Kraken employees.
Smith & Nephew, a global medical tech conglomerate that is expanding into robotics-assisted surgeries, announced that they are paying $275 million to acquire Pittsburgh startup Blue Belt Technologies. Blue Belt has developed a robotic-assisted surgical system for knee replacement. Smith & Nephew is already Blue Belt’s sales partner and distributor.
Frank Wang, DJI founder and CEO, said the two companies “share a passion to provide creative people with cutting-edge, inventive technology to help them take visual storytelling to the next level. The partnership will also help to push the boundaries of what’s possible in imaging technology,” he added.