ESA BIC Bavaria congratulates their incubatee Blickfeld for successfully closing the seed financing round. A so far missing piece of autonomous vehicles are cost-efficient laser-based 3D sensors, also known as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). The Munich-based startup company Blickfeld develops such sensor systems and was now able to raise $4.25 million in a seed financing round from Fluxunit – OSRAM Ventures, High-Tech Gründerfonds, Tengelmann Ventures, und Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners.
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 that create high-definition, three-dimensional geometric maps. By using commercial off-the-shelf and silicon components, Blickfeld has developed and demonstrated a technology that can be produced in low-cost mass fabrication and meets the technical performance specifications required by car OEMs.
The investment will be used in order to qualify the sensor for use in series-production vehicles and to further grow the team of 18 engineers and experts. Vehicle manufacturers show great interest, as systems that have been available up to now are either significantly more expensive or cannot provide the required performance to enable autonomous vehicles to accurately perceive their environment.
Dr. Ulrich Eisele of OSRAM‘s venture capital arm Fluxunit explains: “We are convinced that Blickfeld and its innovative ray-guidance technique can be an important enabler for bringing LiDAR to the vehicle mass market.”
Dr. Florian Petit, who has founded the company together with optics expert Dr. Mathias Müller and software engineer Rolf Wojtech: “We are particularly proud of the support from both experienced venture capital investors, as well as from a large supplier to the automotive industry. On the way towards serial production, their diverse experience will help us to advance quickly. We are planning to deliver the first devices to automotive OEMs in early 2018.”
In view of the quickly growing LiDAR market, it is of paramount importance to protect inventions. Blickfeld has already filed 18 patent applications. In this regard, the support of business angel Dr. Sebastian Neusser, a patent attorney with long-lasting experience, is particularly valuable.
The close contacts between the investor consortium and the automotive industry open new doors for the team. For instance, lead investor Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners did not only invest in Europe’s leading long-distance bus company Flixbus and the car-sharing aggregator Carjump, but has also a close connection to the recently launched “Digital Hub Mobility”, a cooperation between the German government and industry players such as Audi, BMW, Daimler, IBM, Infineon and Facebook. “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,” explains Andreas Unseld, Partner at Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners. Similarly, the investors High-Tech Gründerfonds and Tengelmann Ventures have multiple automotive and mobility companies in their portfolios; among them Uber. In addition to industry contacts and expertise, the consortium is able to provide substantial follow-on investments in later rounds.
Blickfeld joined the ESA BIC Bavaria in April this year.
The ESA BIC Bavaria seeks entrepreneurs using space technologies in a non-space environment. That does not mean rocket science, but applies to multiple application fields such as navigation and positioning, communications techniques, Earth observation, materials, processes, signals or robotics.
Are you interested in joining our network and do you have an innovative idea yourself? Then have a look at the details of the ESA BIC Bavaria programme. ESA BIC Bavaria has four selection rounds each year. The next application deadline for the incubation programme is 24 November 2017. Apply now for ESA BIC Bavaria