Airware is one of, if not the, most well funded drone startups in the world. They manufacture a very sophisticated drone operating system that integrates the company’s hardware, software, and cloud storage capabilities to do a lot of fancy flying and aerial data collection. But, despite Airware’s extremely advanced, science-fiction-made-real, technology there is still a lot of work to be done before we arrive at our drone-filled future.
And Airware can’t do it all by themselves which is why the company has started the Commercial Drone Fund to, quite literally, share the wealth.
The fund will invest between $250,000 and $1 million in early stage drone startups focused on five key areas of UAV technology development: sensor hardware, software applications, cloud–based aerial data analysis tools, drone–based services,and complete solutions for specific industries.
The Commercial Drone Fund’s first two investments are RedBird, a French drone data processing company, and Sky-Futures, a British company that builds drone sensors for monitoring oil and gas infrastructure.
Airware has raised a fund separate from their own venture capital ($40 million to date) and is structured like a venture capital fund, with capital provided by limited partners. Airware’s CEO, Jonathan Downey, is the fund’s General Partner.
“While the commercial drone industry is evolving rapidly, we still see gaps in the ecosystem.The Commercial Drone Fund will identify and boost the rising stars that are advancing importantdrone–related initiatives, such as powerful new sensors, intelligent analytics, or innovative field services,” said Downey. “I know how hard it is to raise early money in a new space and I want to help other entrepreneurs get further faster.”
The reveal of Airware’s fund comes just a few weeks after DJI announced it too was starting a fund for drone app and hardware development in partnership with Accel Partners, on the of the companies own chief investors.
The missions of the two funds seem to be different enough that there is plenty of room for both of them to play in the space.
There is still a lot of work to be done before drones are ready to take off in earnest and the public is ready to confidently accept them.
To learn more about the fund or to pitch your company, visit CommercialDroneFund.com.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com