Drones have recently been used for an increasing number of enterprise applications, from terrestrial imagery and mapping to delivery and transportation, and funding to the space continues to hit new highs. Deals to drone companies reached an all time quarterly high in Q1 2017 while funding is on pace to exceed year prior.
We used the CB Insights database to round up the most active investors since 2012 in the drone space and ranked them by investments into unique drone companies.
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The majority of the firms on this list are well-known investors that back a variety of diverse startups and industries. Interestingly, four of the nine investors are VC firms, three corporate VCs, and two super angels. The presence of Qualcomm Ventures, tied with Lux Capital as the most active drone investor, is hardly a surprise given their activity in the IoT space. Qualcomm has also released Snapdragon Flight, a processor designed specifically for the drone development community.
Key takeaways on the most active investors:
- Lux Capital and Qualcomm Ventures are the most active investors in the space to date. Both have backed six unique companies within a variety of the twelve drone categories. Lux Capital is known for investing in a wide variety of drone startups, from sailing drones to drone racing, while Qualcomm Ventures has a strategic interest in the space. Both firms also backed AirMap, a system that allows UAV operators to visualize the airspace around them.
- Zipline International, a builder of delivery drones for medical supplies, was backed by the greatest number of most active investors on the list: Andreessen Horowitz, Felicis Ventures, Google Ventures, and SV Angel. Close behind were Airmap, Airware, and Swift Navigation, all backed by three unique investors on the list.
- The Commercial Drone Fund operates as the corporate venture arm of Airware, a private company backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Felicis Ventures, and Google Ventures (mentioned above). The Commercial Drone Fund has backed four unique companies: Cape Productions, Raptor Maps, RedBird (aqcuired by Airware in September 2016), and Sky-Futures.
- Lily Robotics, backed by SV Angel in both October 2014 and December 2015, shut down in January 2017.
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