Airware announces Commercial Drone Fund

By Emily Aasand | May 28, 2015

Airware, a drone software, hardware and cloud services developer, launched its Commercial Drone Fund today and announced the first two investment recipients—Redbird, a cloud data analysis company in Paris, France, and London-based Sky-Futures, a leader in oil and gas data capture and analysis by commercial drone. The fund is investing in companies that are developing technologies critical to scaling the use of drones across various commercial applications.

The Commercial Drone Fund is structured like a venture capital fund, with capital provided by limited partners. The fund is making $250,000 to $1 million investments in early-stage companies in the commercial realm 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.

“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 Jonathan Downey, CEO of Airware. “I know how hard it is to raise early money in a new space and I want to help other entrepreneurs get further faster.”

Airware works with third-party hardware, software, and cloud services companies to help tailor commercial drones to their specific needs. Although it’s not a requirement for funding, many companies being funded are using Airware’s aerial information platform. The fund will continue to invest in companies that have technologies to help solve complex challenges that business face when scaling drone operations, the company said.

“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. “Our solutions are already in use with over 35 of the biggest oil and gas companies globally. Investments form the Commercial Drone Fund will speed up the delivery of our technology roadmap and create more valuable data to our existing client base faster.”

“Redbird is known in Europe for having the most advanced drone data analytics for mining, construction, and infrastructure inspection. Our cloud-based platform for enterprises is designed to fit within existing Airware workflows. We are very excited by this investment as it validates the added-value we’re bringing in the drone ecosystem.” said Emmanuel de Maistre, co-founder and CEO of Redbird. “Together with Airware and our partners, we’re ready to move to the next level and expand to the U.S.—it’s a new step a global development for our company.”


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