Robots skyrocket – attract double amount of VC funding in 2015

24 Mar 2016124 Shares

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Robots have reached an all-time high in terms of venture capital investment, according to new figures from CB Insights

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Robots are hot among investors right now and funding of robotics – excluding drones – increased 115pc in 2015, led by investors that include Intel, Innovation Works and High-Tech Grunderfonds.

This is a new record high for deals in the robotics space, and already nearly 15 companies – including Restoration Robotics, Savioke and 5D Robotics – have raised $89m in funding across 15 deals, according to CB Insights.

Analysing companies focused on automation, agricultural automation, surgical applications and personal/social robots, businesses in this space have raised more than $1.4bn in cumulative funding since 2011.

Except for a slowdown in 2013, the rate of growth in robotics has been doubling year-over-year.

Last year, activity in the area reached an all-time high.

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Deals in robotics nearly doubled from 45 in 2014 to 83 in 2015, an investment rate of 115pc compared with 55pc the previous year.

The largest funded round in 2015 was a $150m growth equity round raised by Auris Surgical Robots, which is backed by investors that include Lux Capital and Mithril Capital Management.

The second quarter of 2015 saw the deal count peak, with over 20 companies across seven countries raising financing.

The future robot superstars

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Beijing-based Ninebot raised $80m from investors that included Sequoia Capital China and Shinwei Capital Partners.

Some of the highest-funded late-stage deals include a $45m Series E round raised by Liquid Robotics, a $45m Series F round raised by Sphero, and a series F round of $41m raised by 4Moms.

According to CB Insights, Pittsburgh-based Innovation Works was the most active VC investor in robotics, having invested in over five unique companies. Just in the last year, the VC seed-funded HEBI Robotics, Titan Robotics, Capsen Robotics and IAM Robotics.

Intel Capital and Germany-based seed-stage investor High-Tech Grunderfonds were tied for second place. Since January 2015, the former has backed companies including Savioke, PraFly and Ninebot, while the latter has invested in REVOBOTIK and Bionic Robotics.

California-based stealth mode robotics startups, Auris Surgical Robots, is the most well-funded company, while the second-most well-funded company is consumer robotics and AI company Anki, backed by investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, JPMorgan Chase and Two Sigma Ventures.

Updated 2.20pm, 25 March 2016: This article was updated to reflect that NaviMed Capital is not an investor in Auris Surgical Robotics.

Robot entrepreneur image via Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com