Moon-bound artificial intelligence robotics and navigation company Advanced Navigation has today announced the signing of definitive agreements to secure $108 million in a Series B funding round led by US global investment firm KKR.
The funds will be used to bolster the Sydney-based company’s R&D ambitions, building on work already done in the navigation and AI space for clients including technology giants Google, Apple, Airbus, Boeing and General Motors.
The raise, one of the largest private investments in Australia this year and KKR’s first in the local technology space, was also backed by returning investors Main Sequence, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, In-Q-Tel and Our Innovation Fund.
New investor AI Capital also jumped on board with the raise which brings Advanced Navigation’s total amount received to date to more than $134 million.
For Advanced Navigation, receipt of the $108 million tranche comes just two weeks after the company’s co-founders and co-CEOs Xavier Orr and Chris Shaw took out the top title at the 2022 Sydney Young Entrepreneur Awards.
It also follows a year of major wins for the pair, who noted working with NASA on the organisation’s return to the Moon as the highlight of their year.
That contract will see Advanced Navigation be the first Australian company to reach the Moon through the development of its two navigation systems - the first of which is the Boreas X90, an inertial navigation system (INS) that enables positioning of extreme precision without using relatively fixed references, such as stars, or requiring base station control telemetry.
Though the company is set on soaring into space, it is also diving deep into the ocean following the acquisition of a 5.5-acre site in Perth where it will aim to produce 10,000 units of its fully autonomous submersible drone Hydrus. The underwater technology can help monitor CO2 absorption, reef bleaching, loss of sea life and biodiversity, coastal erosion, fishery declines, and more.
The raise also follows the company's acquisition of Canberra-based Via Photonics in May, which developed light detection altimetry and velocimetry (LiDAV) for more than 15 years at The Australian National University before it spun out as a business.
The buyout – worth up to $40 million – was finalised seven months ago and saw Vai Photonics integrate into Advanced Navigation’s research and development team based in the nation’s capital.
The growing company, which leverages AI neural networks and deep learning algorithms in its sensor products sold to commercial and defence clients, will use the funding to accelerate R&D programs focused on robotic, navigation, photonic and quantum sensing solutions.
Read more: Up, up and away: Advanced Navigation founders win top prize at Sydney Young Entrepreneur Awards
Founded in 2012, Advanced Navigation also hopes to deploy the capital to enhance its global sales and marketing capabilities to reach new customers, and will assess inorganic growth opportunities to incorporate new tech and products into its suite.
“We look forward to this next phase of growth as we continue to be a driving force in the autonomy revolution,” co-founder Xavier Orr said.
“KKR has significant experience investing in emerging technologies, we are thrilled to have them lead our Series B funding round and work alongside our team to advance our product and technology innovation and development.
“Our technologies will continue to safely and reliably guide autonomous vehicles across hazardous environments. Together with our engineering experts, partners, and in collaboration with global research institutes, we will work to build a more resilient, secure and sustainable future.”
KKR partner and head of growth equity, Asia Pacific Mukul Chawla said Advanced Navigation had established itself as a leading innovator in the robotics sector by developing differentiated AI-enabled software with a wide range of applications.
“As demand for autonomous technology continues to grow, we are excited to collaborate with Xavier, Chris and the Advanced Navigation team,” Chawla said.
“We see significant opportunity for the company to tap into KKR’s global network, operational expertise, and experience in technology investing to accelerate the company’s efforts to expand globally and build out its platform.
“Advanced Navigation marks our first technology growth investment in Australia, an important market for KKR overall, and for our growth equity franchise and its dedicated team based in Sydney.”
As part of the investment, KKR technology growth investor Louis Casey and KKR Global Institute executive director Vance Serchuk will join Advanced Navigation’s board of directors. KKR Global Institute chairman General David Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.) will chair a new advisory committee to support the company’s global expansion efforts.
“I look forward to chairing Advanced Navigation’s International advisory board to help introduce the company’s critical technology to new markets and opportunities, including in the aerospace, defence, and security sectors,” General Petraeus said.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support