June 3, 2015—With the goal of supporting the most promising commercial drone businesses around the world, Airware launched the Commercial Drone Fund today and announced the first two investment recipients; Sky-Futures and Redbird. The fund is investing in companies that are developing technologies critical to scaling the use of drones across a variety of commercial applications.
Airware’s Commercial Drone Fund is making $250,000 to $1 million investments in early-stage companies in the commercial drone ecosystem and will focus on five key areas: sensor hardware, software applications, cloud-based aerial data analysis tools, drone-based services, and complete solutions for specific industries. Initial funding recipient is London-based Sky-Futures, a leader in oil and gas data capture and analysis by commercial drone. The fund expects to invest in dozens of startups over the next two years.
“We are excited to invest in Sky-Futures, a global leader in drone-enabled data capture and analysis for the oil and gas industry. Sky-Futures has unparalleled industry expertise working with the top 35 oil and gas companies around the world. Their team is building an autonomous future for commercial data solutions by drone – saving time, improving efficiency, and ensuring worker safety,” said Jonathan Downey, Airware CEO and General Partner of the Commercial Drone Fund.
The Commercial Drone Fund is structured like a venture capital fund, with capital provided by limited partners. Airware’s CEO, Jonathan Downey, is the fund’s General Partner. Downey has more than 10 years of experience in aerospace and aviation: in academia at MIT, in industry at Boeing, as a commercial pilot flying the Dehavilland Twin Otter, and over the past four years building and scaling Airware in San Francisco. Downey has led Airware to raise over $40 million.
“While the commercial drone industry is evolving rapidly, we still see gaps in the ecosystem. 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,” said Downey.
Airware works with an ecosystem of third-party hardware, software, and cloud services companies to help businesses tailor commercial drones to their specific needs. Many of the companies funded by the Commercial Drone Fund are leveraging Airware’s Aerial Information Platform, though it is not a requirement for funding. The fund is a separate legal entity from Airware, and Airware will not be an investor.
“We’re excited to be working with Jonathan Downey and the Commercial Drone Fund to shape the future of commercial drone technology to save time, cut cost, and improve safety for industry,” said James Harrison, co-founder and CEO of Sky-Futures. “Investment from the Commercial Drone Fund will speed up the delivery of our technology roadmap and create more valuable data to our existing client base faster.”
The fund will continue to invest in companies that have technologies that help solve complex challenges that businesses face when scaling drone operations. It will favor those who have traction with existing customers and a strong team with the technical knowledge and expertise needed to deliver on the company’s vision.
For more information, visit CommercialDroneFund.com.