Unifly NV, which provides unmanned traffic management (UTM) software for drones, has completed a €17 million ($25.1 million CDN) Series B capital raise bringing in investors like Deutsche Flugsicherung, which is the national air traffic control authority of Germany, and FPIM, a wealth fund based in Belgium that manages the federal government’s shareholdings, cooperates with the government on specific projects and pursues its own investment policy in the interests of the Belgian economy.
Existing investors Terra Drone (a drone solutions provider in Japan), QBIC and PMV (Belgian early stage investors) also participated in the new raise round. Bryan, Garnier & Co., Europe’s growth investment bank, advised Unifly on this transaction.
“This funding round will enable Unifly to continue building its world-leading features and to expand the product offering. This now includes the BLIP which acts as an electronic license plate for drones, combined with high-precision drone tracking,” said Marc Kegelaers, CEO of Unifly. “We will continue to grow our international presence and secure additional contracts in the global UTM land grab. Future markets could be even larger, with the rise of air taxis, with integration between autonomous cars and drones, and with drone UTM software predicted to take over traditional aircraft as they become increasingly automated.”
Unifly’s UTM software enables the tracking and management of drones alongside commercial aviation in order to provide visibility on where drones can fly, request and provide flight approvals, manage potential conflicts and implement regulations including no-fly zones.
The company has won national level contracts with the ANSPs of Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Austria, and is the selected provider in several U.S. regions, including the NUAIR North Eastern UAS flight corridor and FAA designated UAS Test Site in Central New York. Unifly manages drone corridors in Japan and Malawi among others and is a selected technology provider for the FAA’s LAANC program.
Unifly points to a PWC estimate that the global market potential for commercial use of drones at more than US$127 billion, but also notes the growing deployment of drones gives rise to predictable challenges including safety, security and privacy, as highlighted by recent drone disruptions around Gatwick, Newark and Frankfurt airports.
These concerns need be resolved at the national and international level, explains Unifly, to unleash the market for commercial BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flights. The company states legislation is rapidly falling into place, with European countries under pressure to implement the recently published new European regulation by 2020.