Robot Investments Weekly: Surgical Funding Joins Industrial Automation Acquisitions

Surgical funding last week included PROCEPT BioRobotics, which makes the Aquabeam technology.

February 24, 2018      

Supply chain automation, service robotics, and surgical funding were some of the highlights of the past week’s transactions. Of course, there were also investments, mergers and acquisitions, and other financial moves around artificial intelligence and unmanned systems.

Robotics Business Review subscribers can search and sort numerous company deals in our Transactions Database.

Industrial investments include foundations, energy, and supply chains

Moog Inc. paid €53 million ($65 million U.S.) for Czech company VUES Brno s.r.o., which designs and makes customized motors. U.S.-based Moog makes precision controls for the aerospace, marine, military, and automation industries. VUES serves the automation, automotive, and energy markets.

Scotland-based Wood Group received $2.1 million from U.K. authorities, including the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy; the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; and Innovate UK, for technology to assist with decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

If the earth moves during foundation construction, SAALG Geomechanics can apply machine learning to analyze it. CEMEX Ventures has invested in the Spanish company, whose Daarwin software promises to save 10% for civil engineering projects and up to 15% for large buildings with underground levels. CEMEX will help SAALG commercialize and distribute its product.

New Zealand-based robotics company Scott Technology bought Alvey, Belgium-based Alvey Group for €12.1 million ($14.88 million). Scott plans to sell Alvey’s packaging and warehouse systems worldwide.

Pearson Packaging Systems in Spokane, Wash., has acquired Flexicell Inc., adding its automation capabilities to its packaging portfolio. The companies serve the food and consumer packaged goods markets.

Surgical funding follows new areas

The global surgical robotics market will reach $12.6 billion by 2025, predicts Research and Markets. Analysts expect healthcare robotics to mature in the next few years, as new types of procedures become possible.

Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies bought France-based Orthotaxy to develop orthopedic surgical technologies. The software-guided robotic procedures will include partial and total knee replacements. The terms of this surgical funding were not disclosed.

PROCEPT BioRobotics Corp. secured $118 million from Viking Global Investors LP, with support from Perceptive Advisors and CPMG Inc. Redwood Shores, Calif.-based PROCEPT has developed “aquablation therapy for minimally invasive treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.” The surgical funding will help commercialize the AquaBeam autonomous technology (shown above) beyond North America, Australia and New Zealand, and parts of Europe.

Kraken Robotics Thunderfish

Kraken Robotics’ Thunderfish UUV

Unmanned systems raise stakes

Denver-based Bye Aerospace has closed on a $5 million Series C round for alternative propulsion systems for aircraft. Galileo Global Securities and Ashanti Capital participated in the round. Bye Aerospace is working on an electric aircraft for flight training and the StratoAirNet long-endurance drone.

From the heavens to the sea, Kraken Robotics Inc. has offered another $1.19 million in shares. Canada-based Kraken Robotics produces sensors for unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for commercial and military applications, and it recently began selling complete systems.

Service robots grow to meet global demand

Dash Robotics, which sells robotic kits and connected toys, has raised $2.7 million in funding, led by Ironfire Ventures. Hayward, Calif.-based Dash Robotics partnered with Mattel Inc. for its Kamigami robots, which became available during the 2017 holiday season.

Educational AI company Kidaptive Inc. closed $19.1 in Series C funding from Formation 8 and Woongjin ThinkBig. Redwood City, Calif.-based Kidaptive will use the funding to develop its Adaptive Learning Platform for the global market.

Accel Robotics Corp., which is working on service automation, has filed for $900,000 in debt financing.

Software development hits accelerator

Automotive supplier Denso Corp. has taken an equity stake in Japan-based Creationline Inc., which is applying cloud computing to software development. Creationline

Boston-based Mabl raised $10 million in Series A funding from Amplify Partners and CRV. The company applies machine learning to monitor changes during software development.

Similarly, Feature Labs applies “automated feature engineering for the enterprise” to data management, allowing for faster machine learning or predictive modeling. Feature Labs completed its seed round, led by Flybridge Capital Partners.