Robotics industry: September fundings, acquisitions, failures

Additive manufacturing, exoskeleton robots, mobile robotics, and machine learning are among highlights in the September 2016 Robot Report with 13 fundings, six acquisitions, and four failures for robotic companies.

By Frank Tobe, The Robot Report October 15, 2016

September continued the trend of strong funding for robotic startups with 13 fundings totaling $220 million. (bringing the year-to-date total well over $1 billion). There were also six acquisitions that totaled $2.2 billion.

September Fundings

Carbon 3D, a Silicon Valley 3-D printer startup, raised $81 million from a group of 6 investors led by BMW Group and Sequoia Capital, GE, Nikon, JSR and GV. The funds will be used for international expansion. Parts made on Carbon machines, using the company’s resins and elastomers, have different mechanical properties and a smoother surface than parts produced on traditional CNC machines because they’re not deposited layer by layer, cut or milled. Instead, they’re sculpted by precisely applying light and oxygen to a liquid pool of material. BMW and Ford are early users of this technology. 

Zymergen, a Silicon Valley integrator of lab robotics in industrial biotech, raised $42 million in a Series A funding led by Data Collective and including AME Cloud Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurveston, HVF, Innovation Endeavors, Obvious Ventures, True Ventures and Two Sigma Ventures.

Mazor Robotics (in August) completed the second tranche of the equity investment by Medtronic pursuant to a previously executed agreement between the parties. Mazor issued new securities representing 3.40% percent of Mazor’s issued and outstanding share capital at a price equal to an aggregate purchase price of $20 million.

Saildrone, an Alameda, CA startup, raised $14M in a Series A funding round led by Social Capital with additional funds from Capricorn Investment and Lux Capital. The funding will be used to expand Saildrone’s fleet of sailing drones, enhance Saildrone’s data processing capacity, and scale commercial operations.

Drone Racing League has raised $12 million in new VC funding co-led by Lux Capital and RSE Ventures. Other backers include MGM, Sky Prosieben, Hearst Ventures, CAA Ventures, Vayner/RSE, Courtside Ventures, Sierra Maya Ventures and individual angels.

Sarcos Robotics, a Salt Lake City maker of military exoskeleton robots, has secured $10.5 million in funding from investors including Microsoft, Caterpillar Ventures, GE Ventures, Cottonwood Technology Fund and two unnamed private investment firms. Sarcos says it will use the funds to grow its team and bring its Guardian line of robotics to market. Sarcos envisions possibilities for the machines in a number of industries, ranging from oil and gas to mining to construction and manufacturing.

Rapyuta Robotics, a spin-off from the ETH Zurich, recieved $10M in a Series A funding round from SBI Investments, a Japanese VC. Funding will be used to support and expand its engineering team in order to accelerate development of additional features and new products, testing, and product release schedules plus funding of sales, and marketing efforts. Rapyuta is aiming to commercialize the RoboEarth project of enabling robots to talk and learn with and from other robots over the cloud. Mavrx, a San Francisco startup using imagery and data to make prescriptions for the ag industry, raised $10M in a Series A round led by Eclipse with Bloomberg Beta and Visionnair Ventures.

Titan Medical, a Canadian startup involved in the design and development of a robotic surgical system, completed a public offering which raised $7.2 million. 

Navisens, a SF software, systems and AI startup, got $2.6 million in seed funding in a round led by Resolute Ventures with participation from KEC Ventures, Amicus Capital, Arba Seed Investment Group, and angel investor Gokul Rajaram. The company is introducing its patent-pending technology, motionDNA, a location solution that employs motion sensors for both indoor and outdoor location solutions.

OnFarm, a Fresno, CA ag startup, got an additional $125k in seed funding from 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley VC focusing on providing seed funding and startup coaching. OnFarm is developing a network of sensors, weather, maps, equipment and historical crop data and providing analytical and prescriptive data as a service.

Appolo Shield, an Israeli startup moving to Silicon Valley, received $120k in seed funding from Y Combinator. The company is developing an anti-drone system to actively protect sensitive areas. Their software takes control of intruding drones and commands them to land.

Raptor Maps, a Somerville, MA startup, received $200k in seed funding from Y Combinator (in August). Raptor is providing RaaS by capturing images and providing mapping data.

September Acquisitions

Apple acquired India-based Tuplejump, a machine learning startup for an undisclosed amount. This is after an August acquisition of Turi, another machine learning platform for an estimated $200 million.

Intel acquired Irish Movidius, a maker of image-processor chips for drones and virtual reality for $400 million. Movidius’ chips help drones and smartphones recognize faces and read signs without needing to stream to the cloud and wait for a response.

GE paid $1.4 billion to acquire two metal-based additive manufacturing makers:

  1. Arcam AB, based in Mölndal, Sweden, invented an electron beam melting machine for metal-based additive manufacturing, and also produces advanced metal powders. Its customers are in the aerospace and healthcare industries. Arcam generated $68 million in revenues in 2015 with approximately 285 employees. In addition to its Sweden site, Arcam operates a metal powders operation in Canada, and DiSanto Technology, a medical additive manufacturing firm in Connecticut, as well as sales and application sites worldwide.
  2. SLM Solutions Group, based in Lübeck, Germany, produces laser machines for metal-based additive manufacturing with customers in the aerospace, energy, healthcare, and automotive industries. SLM generated $74 million in revenues in 2015 with 260 employees. In addition to its operations in Germany, SLM has sales and application sites worldwide.

Hocomo, a Swiss provider of robotic and sensor-based rehabilitation solutions, merged with Chinese DIH International to provide comprehensive rehab solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed. DIH International is a corporate holding group from Hong Kong with offices in China, Korea, the Netherlands and the US. The merged entity will become a full solution provider for the entire rehabilitation marketplace.

Cabinplant A/S, a Danish integrator of food processing equipment including a sardine packing robot cell, has sold 80% of their shares to CTB, a Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet) company that designs, manufactures and markets ag, dairy, and poultry processing equipment. Cabinplant employs 300 people and has representatives in more than 30 countries worldwide. No amount was disclosed regarding the transaction.


  • Richter-Hansen A/S
  • Flexilane
  • PMN Industri A/S
  • Quark Robotics (ES).

Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report. After selling his business and retiring from 25-plus years in computer direct marketing and materials, consulting to the Democratic National Committee, as well as major presidential, senatorial, congressional, mayoral campaigns and initiatives all across the U.S., Canada and internationally, he has energetically pursued a new career in researching and investing in robotics. This article originally appeared on The Robot Report. The Robot Report is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,

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