Japan’s Terra Drone gets $14 million from Saudi investors • ExamPaper

Terra Drone said today it has raised $14 million in Series C funding from Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital arm of Saudi Aramco, marking the venture capital firm’s first investment in Asia.

The Japan-based company, which builds drone software, hardware and unmanned aerial traffic management software, said the new capital brings the total amount raised since its inception in 2016 to $97 million. It declined to comment on the post-money valuation. According to sources familiar with the situation, the startup was valued at more than $200 million in March last year when Terra Drone closed a series B of $70 million.

The move is consistent with Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” plan, which outlines goals to reduce the country’s dependence on hydrocarbons and promote the use of drones in services. For example, fossil fuel companies in Saudi Arabia will use Terra Drone technology for inspection services. Drones are supposed to detect things like oil leaks. Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest oil producer and plans to increase fossil fuel production in the coming years, despite the scientific consensus that such activities wreak havoc on the Earth’s climate.

Terra Drone CEO Teppei Seki told ExamPaper that the startup participated in a Saudi Aramco drone program held for Saudi Vision 2030 last year.

With the latest funding, Terra Drone plans to establish a new subsidiary, Terra Drone Arabia, wholly owned by Terra Drone, and further promote drone surveys in the region. In addition, the company plans further international penetration in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) through its new office in Saudi Arabia.

Terra Drone currently offers its drone and UAM solutions in 10 countries. Denmark uses Terra Drone’s Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management (UTM) in Danish health drones and the Health Drone Project to transport blood and medicines. Terra Drone’s UT drone for inspection has been certified as a ship inspection by the International Register of Shipping, the Japan-based startup said. Unifly, owned by Terra Drone, a UTM provider, also has a presence in Europe and North America.

Since the last fundraiser, sales of the subsidiaries have grown by more than 50%, the company said.

Terra Drone CEO Toru Tokushige founded Terra Drone in 2016 to develop drone software, such as global air traffic management, to avoid collisions by enabling safe and efficient drone and urban air mobility operations.

“Supported by Terra Drone’s global track record, our investment represents a compelling effort to build the UAM ecosystem in the Kingdom, one that circles a sustainable economy,” said Wa’ed Ventures General Manager Fahad Alidi. “We envision rapid adoption of UAM technology as an emerging tech vertical in the region, and Terra Drone is well positioned to localize their innovation across the region, starting with the Kingdom.”

Note: The original version of this article has been updated to include Unifly’s presence in Europe and North America.

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