As the global adoption of commercial drones grows, organizations want to ensure the progress of commercial drone innovation worldwide. Airware just launched the Commercial Drone Fund, while DJI and Accel recently partnered up to launch the SkyFund.
The Commercial Drone Fund is designed to invest US$250,000 to $1 million to early-stage startups developing crucial drone components, and will focus on sensor hardware, software applications, cloud-based aerial data-analysis tools, drone-based services, and complete solutions for industries such as mining, construction and infrastructure inspection.
“While the commercial drone industry is evolving rapidly, we still see gaps in the ecosystem,” said Jonathan Downey, CEO of Airware. “The Commercial Drone Fund will identify and boost the rising stars that are advancing important drone-related initiatives, such as powerful new sensors, intelligent analytics, or innovative field services. I know how hard it is to raise early money in a new space, and I want to help other entrepreneurs get further faster.”
SkyFund is designed to advance the drone developer ecosystem by providing capital, technology and resources. The fund will also invest in early-stage companies, and will focus on robotics, machine intelligence, software, computer vision, navigation, multimedia communities, tools and services. In addition, SkyFund will support entrepreneurs and developers using the DJI SDK to create industry-specific software applications for mapping, imaging, agriculture and inspection.
“SkyFund was created to develop new and amplify existing technology from around the world by championing developers and sparking a sense of curiosity about unmanned vehicles and services," said Eric Cheng, director of aerial imaging at DJI. "Hundreds of developers already use DJI's platform, and SkyFund enables us to fund developers and businesses that imagine new opportunities.”
The Commercial Drone Fund is expected to make investments over the next two to three years with the hopes of investing in dozens of startups. Those who wish to receive investments can pitch their products and services to the Commercial Drone Fund. According to Airware, the fund will favor those who already have an existing customer base and a strong team with technical knowledge and expertise. Airware also said that it will not be an investor and that the fund is a separate legal entity from the company.
Companies who receive seed capital through SkyFund will also receive exclusive access to a range of resources through DJI and Accel. DJI will provide product and technical resources, platform-level support, product APIs, access to demos, and beta programs and go-to-market support. Accel will help develop and implement best drone practices.