In The Largest Private Venture Investment in Defence Industry, Tonbo Imaging Raises $17 Million


Team DefenceAviationPost

Tonbo Imaging announced today that it has secured USD 17 million in capital for its Series B Financing round, in order to scale its growth and dominance as a premier designer and manufacturer of advanced night vision imaging systems for defense, surveillance and transportation safety markets.

This Series B round was led by WRV Capital with participation from Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, Edelweiss Private Equity and Artiman Ventures. Artiman as Tonbo’s lead investor in Series A continued its participation in the latest round.

Veda Corporate Advisors, a leading mid-market firm, was the sole advisor to Tonbo Imaging.

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. Over the past five years, Tonbo’s imaging technology has caused a disruption in the global procurement of military electro-optics systems. With Tonbo’s technology, night vision has become cheaper, easier to integrate and completely unrestricted.

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.

Tonbo’s growth has been driven by increased demand from emerging markets that are looking to modernize their aging military equipment. 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 Bangalore, Palo Alto, Greece, Poland and Singapore. Tonbo’s products are deployed across 25 countries addressing needs spanning surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting across ground, air and naval applications.

It counts among its customers, global military forces, Tier I defense and homeland security agencies. Building on this momentum, 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.

Our goal is to “democratize night vision imaging technology” says Arvind Lakshmikumar, CEO of Tonbo Imaging. 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”.

Nicholas Brathwaite, Former Chairman & CEO of Aptina and Managing Director of WRV commented, “Based on our experience building and investing in imaging businesses globally, we believe that Tonbo is very well positioned for rapid growth in both military and commercial markets. Their innovative approach to combining world-class optics designs, computer vision, machine learning and multi-sensor fusion technologies can provide significant differentiation for customers in several market segments. We will work closely with Tonbo to expand the use of their imaging platform into new market opportunities including surveillance and automotive applications.”

“Tonbo’s team is responsible for some of the most sophisticated camera technology in the world, qualified for both military and commercial use,“ said Varsha Tagare, Managing Director, Qualcomm Ventures India. “We’re thrilled to work with the Tonbo team to bring sophisticated camera technology from India to serve the rest of the world and we look forward to being an ally as the company continues to grow
and scale.”

Pranav Parikh, Head – Private Equity & Venture Capital, Edelweiss, “With its differentiated and patented imaging technology, Tonbo is uniquely positioned to emerge as a strong leader in this rapidly growing segment worldwide, with a wide range of applications across the defense, industrial and automotive sectors. With a truly talented global team led by Arvind, Tonbo has proved that their technology is both domestically expedient and globally competitive, and we look forward to working with him and his team, to create a global enterprise from India.”

With this investment, Ganapathy Subramaniam from WRV Capital and Pranav Parikh from Edelweiss Private Equity have joined Tonbo’s Board of Directors.

Ramesh Radhakrishnan and Amit Shah, Managing Partners at Artiman Ventures who led Tonbo’s Series A investment commented, “Tonbo is leveraging Indian talent to build world-class products from India, for India and the global markets. Artiman invested in Tonbo early in the game on the premise that India has the business and technical talent to build really sophisticated world-class products for the Indian Defense market that can also compete very effectively on the global stage. It is good to see the company validate that premise with global customer wins and gain the confidence of the international financial community. We look forward to the next phase of the company’s growth in defense and other sectors such as surveillance and automotive.”

Financial terms of this deal have not been disclosed.

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