Airware receives investments to build UAV platform

By UAS Magazine Staff | January 12, 2015

GE Ventures, the investment arm of GE, has made its support of unmanned aerial systems official. The global firm announced it would invest in Airware, an unmanned aircraft system (UAS)-based company. The partnership aims to help identify ways that Airware’s platform can help deliver safer, more efficient solutions for GE’s industrial customer base and allow them to collect better data and make more informed decisions.

“Airware is at the heart of today’s commercial UAV ecosystem, and GE Ventures is excited to use this partnership to learn more about how drones can be used to meet the needs of our customers and business units,” said Alex Tepper, managing director of GE Ventures.

In announcing the partnership, GE Venture stated the company is excited to invest Airware to help prepare for the commercial launch of its platform and expand its engineering, sales, marketing and customer support functions. “Airware is setting the standard among UAV manufacturers and developers, and helping the entire ecosystem grow with it,” GE Ventures said.

GE Ventures has been working with customers in the oil and gas, power, and transportation industries to outline potential uses for commercial UAVs and to identify new and innovative ways to tap its potential.

“We tend to look at innovation across different segment areas and the four themes that we’re investing in right now are around the world of health, the world of energy, the world of industrial internet and the world of advanced manufacturing—where the drone space comes into play,” said Sue Siegel, CEO of GE Ventures.

“GE, a Fortune 50 company, sees commercial drones as a promising way to collect richer, faster and more effective data in a wide range of markets,” said Jonathan Downey, founder and CEO of Airware. “The company operates in more than 170 countries globally and across many industries and we’re thrilled to provide it with a platform to explore the space further.”

In July 2014, Airware announced it raised $25 million in Series B financing to help prepare for the commercial launch of its platform, which will be used to expand its engineering, sales, marketing, and customer support. The round is led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers with participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital. Mike Abbott, general partner at KPCB, will join Airware’s board which currently includes Downey, and Chris Dixon, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, according to Airware.

“Commercial drones are creating a revolution in insights and countless industries around the world will soon benefit from access to aerial information that, until now, has been too difficult, dangerous, expensive or downright impossible to get,” said Downey. “To help organizations use drones for any commercial application, we’re building a platform that anyone can customize and build on top of. This funding will accelerate our efforts, and we are extremely fortunate that high-caliber investors like Kleiner Perkins are partnering with Airware.”

Abbott adds, that Airware recognized the early opportunity to apply drone intelligence to commercial applications and is now, “at the forefront of the industry that will soon experience rapid global expansion.”

Airware has raised more than $40 million. The company received $12.2 million in Series A funding in May 2013, led by Andreessen Horowitz with Google Ventures, First Round Capital, and Felicis Ventures participating.