Defence startup Tonbo Imaging has raised $17 million in series-B funding led by WRV Capital, the largest private venture investment in the domestic defence technology space. Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, Edelweiss Private Equity and existing investor Artiman Ventures also participated in this round.
As the part of the investment, Ganapathy Subramaniam from WRV Capital and Pranav Parikh from Edelweiss Private Equity have joined Tonbo’s board of directors.
Commenting on the development, Nicholas Brathwaite, Managing Director, WRV Capital said “Based on our experience in building and investing in imaging businesses globally, we believe that Tonbo is very well-positioned for rapid growth in both military and commercial markets. We will work closely with Tonbo to expand the use of their imaging platform into new market opportunities including surveillance and automotive applications.”
Tonbo will use the financing to continue expanding its global reach in defense markets, accelerate product growth and innovation in automotive safety markets and continue evaluating strategic acquisition opportunities in specialized technology areas of lasers and photonics.
“We plan to spend the funds on scaling up our international operations, which constitutes 70% of our revenue and invest in R&D and product development on commercial businesses. We are (also) looking at acquiring companies with expertise in lasers and photonics, and are in discussion with a few firms worldwide,” said Arvind Lakshmikumar, Chief Executive, Tonbo Imaging.
The Bengaluru-based startup that partners with the Indian military was founded in 2008 by BITS-Pilani alumni Arvind Lakshmikumar. Tonbo Imaging has been a pioneer in computational imaging and machine learning driven image acquisition. Tonbo’s technology combines fundamental innovations in the image acquisition process along with powerful computer vision algorithms to support superior imaging and scene interpretation for a wide range of applications.
Tonbo leverages the computing power of consumer electronics hardware and economies of scale of contract manufacturing to build systems that outperform existing technology in size, weight, power, and cost.
Our goal is to “democratize night vision imaging technology” says Lakshmikumar. “Our technology leverages the power of computational imaging on consumer electronics hardware to provide our customers with the most sophisticated imaging packages that are needed for the harshest of military applications. While this technology has been military qualified, it has also been built to move into mainstream commercial applications. We are working actively to see large-scale adoption of this technology for vehicle safety and other autonomous operations,” he added.
With Tonbo’s technology, night vision has become cheaper, easier to integrate and completely unrestricted. Over the past five years, Tonbo’s imaging technology has caused a disruption in the global procurement of military electro-optics systems.
Tonbo’s growth has been driven by increased demand from emerging markets that are looking to modernize their aging military equipment. In defence, the sights are mounted on tanks, drones, guns and other artillery to allow soldiers to see better at night over long ranges the sophistication they need in modern battlefields. The ability to see better at night, over longer ranges and effectively engage targets, is a much-needed and sought-after technology. Tonbo’s products offer these markets the sophistication they need for today’s modern battlefield.
Since its Series A funding from Artiman Ventures in 2012, Tonbo has grown its staff to over 170 highly specialized imaging, machine learning and computer vision engineers located in Bengaluru, Palo Alto, Greece, Poland and Singapore.
Tonbo’s products are deployed across 25 countries addressing needs spanning surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting across the ground, air and naval applications. It counts among its customers, global military forces, Tier I defense and homeland security agencies.
This Series B round is the largest private venture investment in the Indian defense industry, and one of Silicon Valley’s largest investments in defense technologies.