Blockchain group secures $107m, as bitcoin and radar interest soars

23 May 2017

Image: beejung/Shutterstock

Traditional banks’ enthusiasm to embrace blockchain shows no signs of abating as $107m was raised by R3, an organisation with significant support from the old guard.

With Goldman Sachs and Banco Santander walking away from a potential deal last November, blockchain start-up R3 CEV was forced to change its funding targets, dropping from $200m down to $150m.

The drastic cut saw it offer ‘just’ 60pc of the organisation, rather than the 90pc originally touted, as the blockchain company sought to navigate its way through to a good conclusion in 2017.

R3 results

The results are starting to pour in now, with more than two-thirds of that targeted raise reported today (23 May).

Financial and technology companies led by Bank of America, SBI, HSBC, Intel and Temasek helped to raise $107m across two rounds, with the next tranche expected in the coming months.

More than 40 institutions from more than 15 countries participated in the first two rounds into the start-up, a spin-off of one of the many R3 businesses in operation today.

“This year, we will have pilot projects and early production phase products in the market,” said David Rutter, chief executive of R3.

“We are a couple of years away until we see massively impactful products,” he told Reuters.

Bitcoin boom

Elsewhere, $11.4m was raised by the company behind LedgerX, which is an options exchange specialist for bitcoin.

The round for Ledger Holdings was led by Miami International Holdings and Huiyin Blockchain Venture Investments.

“In the short term, these investments will further our application to become a regulated exchange and clearing house for bitcoin options,” said Paul Chou, CEO of LedgerX.

“In the long term, these strategic investors will help us enter additional marketplaces and territories.”

On the radar

Moving away from blockchain technology, Bill Gates is one of the people involved in a successful $29m series B round for Echodyne.

The US start-up specialises in a radar system, with plans to replace LiDAR, which is one of the main components behind much of the autonomous vehicle research of today.

Gates’s interest on this occasion comes through Vulcan Capital, a fund run by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Gates has shown particular interest here, personally investing in an earlier round.

Echodyne said the funding will be used to scale the production of its radar system, Metamaterial Electronically Scanning Array (MESA). The main appeal of MESA is how it can be mounted to devices as small as tiny drones.

The company claims that the radar system is stronger and more reliable than LiDAR, the latter being a system already beset with security concerns.


The other side of the Atlantic sees Shipamax, a London-based start-up fresh from Y Combinator, raising $2.5m in seed funding.

Shipamax plans to use the new reserves to build and market its cloud software platform for the shipping industry. However, given the investments being made into blockchain approaches in this industry, most technological developments tend to relate back to ledgers of some kind.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic