LiDAR startup Blickfeld receives significant investment
The Munich-based automotive startup closes a $4.25 million financing round in order to speed up the development of its low-cost, high-performance solid-state LiDAR system.
Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners, High-Tech Gründerfonds, Fluxunit – OSRAM Ventures and Tengelmann Ventures are providing a seven-digit seed investment for the LiDAR innovator.
Munich – October 23, 2017. Blickfeld has developed and demonstrated a unique light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology that is solely based on commercial off-the-shelf and silicon components. It can be manufactured in low-cost mass fabrication and meets high automotive performance requirements. Now, the startup, founded in 2016 by Dr. Mathias Müller, Dr. Florian Petit, and Rolf Wojtech at the Technical University of Munich, is announcing a $4.27 million seed financing round today led by Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners, High-Tech Gründerfonds, Fluxunit – OSRAM Ventures, andTengelmann Ventures.
Autonomous systems, such as self-driving cars, robots, and drones, need to ‘see’ and ‘understand’ the world around them to safely navigate and operate. Blickfeld develops LiDAR systems by using a proprietary technology that creates high-definition, three-dimensional geometric maps. In the automotive industry, LiDAR is considered one of the decisive technologies towards autonomous driving.
The startup’s focus is on bringing high-performance automotive LiDAR systems to the mass market. By using commercial off-the-shelf and silicon components, Blickfeld has developed and demonstrated a unique technology that can be produced in low-cost mass fabrication and meets the technical performance specifications required by car OEMs. This is achieved by employing a patent-pending scanner technology which merges the best of both silicon microfabrication and already established LiDAR concepts. This advanced approach closes the gap between today’s high-cost systems and the automotive mass-market needs, and thus enables safe and affordable autonomous transportation.
Blickfeld is backed by a strong consortium: Lead investor Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners continues to position itself as a leading venture capital investor in the field of mobility after having already made investments in companies such as Europe’s leading bus company Flixbus, car-sharing solution aggregator Carjump (sold to Peugeot Renault/Groupe PSA) and connected-mobility provider Vimcar. Moreover, UVC Partners has a close connection to the recently launched Munich-based Digital Hub Mobility, a cooperation between the German government and industry players such as Audi, BMW, Daimler, IBM, Infineon and Facebook that is managed by UnternehmerTUM, Germany’s leading innovation and startup center.
High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) is Europe’s most active seed-stage investor with over 450 investments. HTGF provides funding for technology-driven startups and helps them to successfully enter the market. Startups benefit from HTGF’s investment experience and expertise as well as from the access the extensive network of corporations, other investors, industry experts and managers.
Fluxunit is the corporate venture capital arm of OSRAM, an internationally leading lighting company. On the technology side, it brings deep technical expertise on the component-level (e.g for lasers or for state-of-the-art optical sensors) to the table. On the market side, Blickfeld will benefit from the access to in-depth market knowledge and to top-tier automotive customers. Furthermore, Fluxunit is able to offer strong know-how in the areas of industrialization, electronics development, quality management and intellectual property.
Tengelmann Ventures (TEV) is one of Germany’s largest venture capital funds and has invested in over 50 companies over the past five years, many of which have become global players and market leaders in their particular segment. TEV has made a couple of investments in the automotive space and is among others an investor in Uber.
Together, the investor consortium is able to support the team with connections to industry partners such as automotive OEMs and suppliers as well as with technical expertise on the component level and in the industrialization of the technology. Moreover, it is able to provide substantial follow-on investment in later rounds. “We are convinced that Blickfeld and its innovative ray-guidance technique can be an important enabler for bringing LiDAR to the vehicle mass market,” notes Dr. Ulrich Eisele, Managing Director of Fluxunit – OSRAM Ventures. “Blickfeld’s innovative technological approach, as well as the experienced founding team, provide a unique opportunity to shape the LiDAR market and – together with the strong investor consortium – to establish a key technology provider for autonomous driving,” adds Andreas Unseld, Partner at Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners.
“We are thrilled to have concluded our seed financing round with such experienced partners. We are very much looking forward to the joint journey. The funds will be used to speed up our development and to enter first trials with automotive OEMs. We are planning to provide first systems to our OEM partners in early 2018. Our team will be expanded: We are especially looking for engineering and business talents to join our Munich-based team,” Mathias Müller, co-founder and CEO of Blickfeld, explains.
Company information Blickfeld:
Blickfeld GmbH was founded in 2016 in Munich and pursues a novel approach to building LiDAR systems for the environmental perception of autonomous machines such as autonomous vehicles. By using commercial off-the-shelf and silicon components, Blickfeld has developed and demonstrated a unique technology that can be produced in low-cost mass fabrication and meets the technical performance specifications required by car OEMs. A high resolution and sampling rate are achieved by employing a patent-pending scanner technology which merges the best of both silicon microfabrication and already established LiDAR concepts. This advanced approach closes the gap between today’s high-cost systems and the automotive mass-market needs, and thus enables safe and affordable autonomous transportation.
Company information Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners:
Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners (UVC Partners) is a Munich-based early-stage venture capital firm that invests in technology-based startups in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. UVC Partners focuses on B2B business models in the areas of Industry 4.0, IoT, Manufacturing Technologies, Software & SaaS, Mobility and Smart City. Portfolio companies benefit from the extensive experience of the management team as well as from the close cooperation with UnternehmerTUM, Europe’s leading innovation and business creation center. With over 150 employees and more than 50 industry partners, UnternehmerTUM can draw from many years of experience in establishing young companies. Even though being fully independent, it enables UVC Partners to offer startups unique access to talent, industry customers, and other financial partners.
Company information High-Tech Gründerfonds:
High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) is Europe’s most active seed-stage investor. With about €820 million under management, HTGF provides financing for technology-driven companies active in a wide range of fields, including robotics, IoT and energy, Medtech and Biotech, chemicals and software. The seed financing is designed to enable startups to take their ideas through prototyping and to market launch. HTGF can invest up to €3 million in total per company in follow-on financing rounds. Furthermore, startups benefit from HTGF’s team experience and expertise as well as the extensive network of investors, experts, managers and scouts.
Company information Fluxunit – OSRAM Ventures:
OSRAM, based in Munich, is a globally leading lighting manufacturer with a history dating back about 100 years. The product portfolio includes high-tech applications based on semiconductor technology such as infrared or laser lighting. The products are used in highly diverse applications ranging from virtual reality, autonomous driving or mobile phones to smart and connected lighting solutions in buildings and cities. In automotive lighting, the company is the global market and technology leader. Based on continuing operations (excluding Ledvance), OSRAM had around 24,600 employees worldwide at the end of fiscal 2016 (September 30) and generated revenue of almost €3.8 billion in that fiscal year. The company is listed on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt and Munich (ISIN: DE000LED4000; WKN: LED 400; trading symbol: OSR).
Fluxunit is the corporate venture capital arm of OSRAM. Target of Fluxunit is to make innovative business models available for OSRAM. That is why Fluxunit forms strategic partnerships including minority stakeholdings with innovative startups.
Company information Tengelmann Ventures:
Tengelmann Ventures (TEV) is one of Germany’s leading venture capital investors and has invested in over 50 companies over the past five years, many of which have become global players and market leaders in their particular segment. TEV focuses mainly on early- and later-stage investment in technology startups, internet marketplaces, and consumer internet companies. The team funds companies worldwide in the role as lead-, co-lead or co-investor. In close cooperation with its global network of venture capitalists, professionals and consultants, Tengelmann Ventures always strives to identify promising startups and to support the development of its portfolio companies.