KKR Assists Australian Robotics Company in $108M Blockbuster Fundraising

KKR Assists Australian Robotics Company in $108M Blockbuster Fundraising

“We started the journey in April so it took longer than usual but in the end we found a great investment partner in KKR who has the global reach and expertise to grow sales and [help] drive the growth of the company,” he said.

“The duty of care was higher in this round than in others… [But] We are in a unique position as we have been profitable for the most part. We’re going to take the money and we’re going to have a big spurt of growth and expansion… but we can always pull the levers to become profitable again.”

On the way to the moon

Advanced Navigation was formed in 2012 to commercialize Mr. Orr’s research on AI-based inertial navigation (navigational techniques using a computer, motion sensors, and rotation sensors to determine the position of something). The technology enables robots to navigate independently in environments without GPS.

Its navigation systems, used by companies in a variety of industries including defense, automotive, agriculture and aerospace, are more accurate, more reliable and much smaller than existing products.

Advanced Navigation has invented products for land, sea, air and space and deployed more than 35,000 robotic solutions for companies including Airbus, Boeing, Tesla, Google, Apple and General Motors.

The company will be the first Australian company to reach the moon under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, after securing a deal with US space company Intuitive Machines.

“We see a significant opportunity for the company to leverage KKR’s global network, operational expertise and technology investment experience to accelerate the company’s efforts to expand globally and grow its platform,” KKR Partners and Head of Growth Equity for Asia Pacific said Mukul Chawla.

Advanced Navigation co-founders Chris Shaw (left) and Xavier Orr combined their knowledge of inertial navigation and sensors to form the company.

Louis Casey, KKR’s head of growth technology in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, will join the Advanced Navigation Board, as will Vance Serchuk, executive director of the KKR Global Institute.

Existing local investors also participated in the Series B round, including deep tech investment fund founded by CSIRO, Main Sequence Ventures, OIF Ventures and Mr. Turnbull. The CIA’s In-Q-Tel and Alpha Intelligence Capital also invested.

The capital raised will enable Advanced Navigation to significantly expand its global sales and marketing teams, and the company plans to double its headcount from 200 to 400 over the next year.

These efforts will focus on countries in Asia and the Pacific such as Japan and South Korea, and growth in the US will be accelerated. The company will also double the size of its underwater navigation and robotics team.

access to additional capital

Advanced navigation also speeds up R&D programs focused on transformative robotics, navigation, photonics, and quantum sensing solutions.

In May, the company acquired Australian National University spin-off Vai Photonics in a deal valued at up to $40 million, and some of that capital raise is earmarked for future deals as well.

Mr Orr said the company could also access additional capital from KKR for acquisitions.

“The real key is being agile and nimble – being able to move quickly and keep an eye on the markets is the key to success,” he said.

“There are some really exciting things happening right now. We do a lot of work with a company that makes driverless trucks for moving cargo between warehouses… and we’ve had tremendous demand for our Hydrus submersible, more than we ever anticipated.

“There is [also] a large number of wind farm applications using our technology to enable wind turbines to use wind energy more efficiently.”

The capital increase brings Advanced Navigation’s total assets to $134 million.

Companies like Cyara, Employment Hero, Scalapay, Zeller, and Immutable were able to raise over $100 million in the first three months of the year, but there have been few nine-digit VC raises since then.

In June, US-based and Australia-based NFT marketplace Magic Eden raised $130 million, and in October, Airwallex raised $100 million.

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