Funding rounds for drone companies have gotten bigger and bigger as the industry matures. A new report from CB Insights names the industry’s top 10 funding deals since 2012.
Some of the top recipient companies offer no surprise – DJI takes the #1 (and ties for number 9) spot at $105M; competitor Yuneec takes #2 for a round led by Silicon Valley giant Intel. But those who stopped paying attention to CA-based 3DR when they stopped manufacturing recreational drones should look again – 3DR takes spots 3, 4 and 9 on the list for multiple large rounds, totaling $179M.
What most of the companies on the list have in common is a focus on the commercial market. Other than DJI – currently the world leader in the consumer market, but rapidly expanding into the commercial space – all of them are currently focused on providing a commercial solution.
Familiar names in commercial drone solutions are on the list: Airware, providing a drone operations platform and Ehang, that maker of both the recreational Ghost drone and the more famous drone taxis, make the top ten. Military provider Aeryon Labs (also providing drones for the energy industry) takes spot # 5.
Perhaps most interesting are those companies that aren’t as well-known, but provide solutions that investors judge valuable. San Francisco-based Swift Navigation takes spot #8 for last month’s $34M deal; the company provides more accurate and affordable GPS and GNSS solutions for use in robotic systems. Liquid Robotics, which has now been acquired by Boeing, provides the Wave Glider maritime system and made the list at #6. Clearpath Robotics, a Canadian company manufacturing industrial robotic systems for ground, air, and water takes the final spot at #10.
As the drone industry matures, investment is ramping up. Smaller deals for seed rounds don’t seem to have slowed – and drone companies who have now been around for several years are starting to reap the benefits of longevity and proven solutions.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.