Welcome to “Robot Investments Weekly,” a new feature on Robotics Business Review that every Friday recaps the week that was in acquisitions, funding, IPOs and mergers and acquisitions in the robotics industry.
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At press time, eight robotics companies raised $90.9 million this week (December 4-8, 2017), while three companies were acquired for undisclosed amounts.
Fetch Robotics Raises $25M
The big news this week comes from RBR50 company Fetch Robotics, which raised $25 million to bring its total funding to date to $48 million. Sway Ventures led the latest round, while existing investors O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Shasta Ventures and SB Group US (“Softbank”) contributed additional funding. Softbank was the lead investor of Fetch’s June 17, 2015 Series A round that raised $20 million.
RBR spoke with Fetch CEO Melonee Wise, who said the funding will be used to grow the company’s sales team and expand its cloud-based FetchCore software. Fetch currently has a handful of customers in Japan, and DHL is the company’s main customer in Europe. International expansion “is not a trivial matter,” Wise said. To meet increasing demand from international customers, Wise said Fetch “will be working through the distribution channel with local sales support.”
GROOVE X Raises $37.5M for LOVOT Companion Robot
GROOVE X, a Japanese startup founded in November 2015, raised $37.5 million in Series A funding. This places GROOVE X firmly among the top echelon of Japanese start-ups with a total of approximately $70 million in capital raised.
GROOVE X was founded by Kaname Hayashi, who formerly led the development of Softbank’s Pepper humanoid robot. GROOVE X hasn’t released many details about its LOVOT companion robot, but its goal is to create companion robots that provide vital emotional support through AI-driven interactions.
GROOVE X says it is working to unveil LOVOT by the end of 2018 ahead of a planned Japan launch in 2019, and subsequent roll-out to other markets. Here’s a quick teaser video for LOVOT.
PerceptIn raises $11M
PerceptIn, a full-stack visual intelligence company, raised $11 million, led by Samsung Ventures, for its Ironsides vision system that provides real-time tracking, mapping, and path planning for robots and autonomous vehicles.
Ironsides, which will cost developers $399, is a multi-sensor, vision-based perception system that doesn’t rely on LiDAR. It features a stereo camera, inertial measurement unit, and multi-core ARM SoC with full Robot Operating System (ROS) support and interface.
Invert Robotics Raises $6.3M
Invert Robotics raised $6.3 million for robots that inspect industrial equipment in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and oil and gas industries. According to the National Business Review (subscription required), Invert had discussions with another potential investor that could have raised the investment to more than $10 million, but the timing didn’t work out on this round.
Unity Robotics Raises $5M Seed Round
Unity Robotics, a Germany-based developer of smart assistant robots, raised $5 million in seed funding. The funding will be used to start production on its Care-O-bot 4 robot assistant, which the company said will initially be rolled out to retail stores.
Unity said Care-O-bot can navigate autonomously and will help customers with information and assistance, while providing transport and monitoring tasks. The company said Care-O-bot is also appropriate for airports, assisted living facilities, hotels, museums, and warehouses.
Tortuga AgTech Raises $2.4M Seed Round
Tortuga AgTech, a Denver-based robotics startup targeting controlled-environment fruit and vegetable growers, has raised a $2.4 million Seed round. Tortuga Agtech’s system will initially focus on strawberries.
From the company’s website: “We’re doing this by bringing frontier technology from robotics, computer vision, automation, and machine learning, and applying it to the hardest problems growers face. Our products will enable advanced growing methods to compete with scale agriculture, which means growers will be able to grow better produce that’s also better for the planet.
“The automation of picking, packing, and trimming will reduce significantly the manual labor hours needed to grow produce. It will also increase yields through denser layouts and optimized grow conditions.”
Robocath raises $2M for neurovascular platform
Medical robotics startup Robocath raised $2 million for its R-One robotic platform for coronary angioplasty. The company has now raised $7.6 million in 2017. The France-based company is seeking CE Mark approval for the system, which it expects to hit the market in Europe and the Middle East in 2018.
Myomo Announces $1.5M Stock Option
Medical robotics company Myomo announced Roth Capital Partners, the underwriter of Myomo’s follow-on offering, exercised in full its option to purchase 626,250 shares of common stock and accompanying warrants to purchase 626,250 shares of common stock, at a combined price to the public of $2.40 per share of common stock and accompanying warrant, for gross proceeds of approximately $1.5 million. Myomo intends to use the proceeds for debt repayment and working capital and other general corporate purposes.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Rockwell Automation Acquires Odos Imaging
Rockwell Automation acquired Odos Imaging, a Scottish technology company that provides 3D, time-of-flight sensing systems for industrial imaging applications. Rockwell Automation will apply this technology to sensing products to deliver solutions to a broad range of demanding industrial applications including automotive and general assembly, packaging and material handling, and logistics.
CapitalWorks Acquires Gem City Manufacturing
Cleveland-based private equity firm CapitalWorks has acquired, for an undisclosed sum, Gem City Manufacturing. Serving the defense, aerospace, medical, optical communications, packaging, robotics and semiconductor markets, Dayton, Ohio-based Gem City specializes in highly automated, custom equipment and complex assemblies.
Cincinnati Inc. Acquires 3D Printing Startup New Valence Robotics
Cincinnati Incorporated, the company behind the BAAM 3D printing system, has acquired Boston-based 3D printing company New Valence Robotics Corporation (NVBOTS). Though the acquisition price has not been disclosed, Cincinnati Inc. said NVBOTS employees will stay on and that for the “foreseeable future” the company’s base of operations will stay in Boston.
Miele picks up majority stake in Yujin Robot
Miele, a German manufacturer of domestic appliances and commercial equipment, has acquired majority stake in Yujin Robot for $47.56 million. Yujin is a Korean manufacturer of cleaning, educational and industrial robots. Prior to this acquisition, Miele held an 11 percent stake in Yujin. Yunin Robot CEO Shin Kyung-cheol will retain his position.