Startup Funding: January 2020

Twelve startups bring in over half a billion in new funding; connectivity startup emerges from stealth.


A dozen tech startup companies started 2020 with new funding, raising +$500 million between them.

Three companies received an impressive amount of investment. Stanford spinout Skylo launched from stealth with $116M in total funding and a bold plan to connect IoT devices, particularly sensors in remote or difficult-to-access environments, with hubs that link them to a network of satellites.

$100M+ funding rounds took place for two automotive companies as well: Hesai Technologies got a big boost to its development of LiDAR, while Hyundai and Kia backed the creation of Arrival’s EV platform.

Among the smaller deals was a $4.4M grant for development of photonic quantum computers.

Four companies collectively raised $66.1M to develop hardware to run AI or software frameworks to help with the creation and deployment of machine learning models. Plus, a quick look at how 100+ recently funded startups are using AI.

Semiconductors & Design
MICLEDI Microdisplays, based in Leuven, Belgium, received €4.5M (~$5M) in a seed round from imec.xpand, PMV, and Fidimec to develop bright, high-resolution microLED displays for future AR glasses. A spin-out of Imec, MICLEDI will develop prototypes on Imec’s 300mm pilot-line infrastructure.

Xanadu received a $4.4M investment from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) for development of photonic quantum computers. The Toronto-based company hopes to create quantum systems that can run at room temperature and be cloud-accessible. They have also received a grant from DARPA and received a total of CA$41M (~$31M) in seed and Series A rounds led by OMERS Ventures.

Munich-based SimScale raised €27M (~30M) in Series C funding led by Insight Partners. The company provides a web-based tool for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA) engineering simulation. Existing investors Earlybird, Union Square Ventures, June Fund, Vito Ventures, Bayern Kapital, and High-Tech Gründerfonds also took part.

Kneron, which makes hardware and software for edge AI devices as well as a reconfigurable neural network model, received $40M in Series A funding led by Horizons Ventures. The San Diego-based company has had $73M in total funding, including from Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund.

Iguazio raised $24M in a Series C Funding round led by INCapital Ventures. The Tel Aviv-based company aims to accelerate the development and deployment of AI applications from edge to multi-cloud with a data science platform to automate machine learning pipelines. This round was joined by existing and new investors, including Samsung SDS, Kensington Capital Partners, Plaza Ventures and Silverton Capital Ventures. Iguazio has raised a total of $72M.

EdgeCortix continued its seed funding round, raising $1M and bringing total investment to $4M. Based in Singapore and Tokyo, the startup has an edge-AI acceleration engine that automates AI model fine-tuning, deployment, and acceleration on edge devices. Key is the company’s software and hardware co-design platform, which aims to automate hardware aware neural architecture search and chip design-space exploration simultaneously. The company expects to release the first version of their co-designed AI hardware accelerator IP in mid-2020 and expects to close a Series A funding round by the end of the year.

Imagimob of Stockholm raised €1M (~$1.1M) in a private funding round to continue building its edge AI software development suite that supports the entire development process from data collection and labeling to deployment and performance assessment. The company has raised about $2.7M in total and plans a Series A round later this year.

Skylo, a spin-out from the Stanford Space Systems Development Laboratory, launched from stealth. It focuses on providing connectivity to IoT devices and sensors through an integrated satellite transceiver and hub to aggregate data from previously offline sensors and send that data to the cloud via a geostationary satellite network. It raised $103M in a Series B round led by Softbank and including Moore Strategic Ventures, DCM Ventures, and Innovation Endeavors, bringing total investment to $116M.

Verkada, an IoT enterprise security camera company, raised $80M in a Series C round from existing investors Next47, Sequoia Capital, Meritech Capital and new investor Felicis Ventures. Verkada has become the enterprise video security provider for over 2,500 organizations, including twenty-five global Fortune 500 companies. The San Mateo, CA company has raised $138.9M and plans to deploy a new line of access control products that integrate with its security cameras.

Serverless platform Nuweba raised $10.2M in seed funding led by Blumberg Capital with participation from Magma Partners and Target Global. The Tel Aviv-based company’s service allows companies to use its serverless platforms for user-facing applications, mission critical and other core workloads, without having to leave the companies’ current ecosystem or change code or configuration. It says it is the first serverless platform to support use of GPUs.

London-based electric vehicle company Arrival received a €100M (~$110M) investment led by Hyundai Motor Company, with Kia Motors participating. It focuses on redesigning EVs with new materials and modular platforms rather than retrofitting ICE chassis with electric powertrains. The Korean car companies will use technologies from Arrival in their own electrification efforts.

Hesai Technology of Shanghai designs LiDAR products, including solid state and ultra-wide FOV LiDAR, that facilitate autonomous driving. It raised $134.9M, led by Bosch and Lightspeed China Partners, bringing Series C funding to $173M. The company also makes methane leak detectors. Previous funding included Qiming Venture Partners, Baidu, and Pagoda Investment, totaling $231.2M.

Who’s using AI?
In January, approximately 117 startups that are implementing AI in their products or services received new funding totaling ~$2B.

The largest segment by far was companies developing services for the healthcare and medical industries, with 27 companies receiving ~$626.7M. They ranged from startups working to improve radiology, imaging, and disease detection to insurance management and documentation.

Two supply chain/logistics/fulfillment companies, Berkshire Grey and Scoutbee, raised a total of $323M between them. That segment was followed by a broad range of enterprise and business service startups, with 18 companies raising ~$305.5M.

Other notable segments include transportation, with 8 companies receiving ~$107M, and customer management/advertising services, where 13 startups raised ~$83M.

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