SkySpecs lands $8M investment for drone inspection offering

ANN ARBOR — SkySpecs, a company that uses drones to inspect utility wind turbines, announced an $8 million Series B financing led by Statkraft Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Also participating in the funding were UL Ventures, the Northbrook, Ill.-based investment and business acceleration arm of UL, formerly Underwriters Laboratories, the safety consulting and certification company, and Capital Midwest, a venture capital firm based in Mequon, Wis.

The company said there were also follow-on investments from Venture Investors, a venture firm based in Ann Arbor, Huron River Ventures, a venture firm based in Grand Rapids, and additional existing investors.

The company said it would use the funds to grow international operations and improve its inspection software for utility infrastructure.

SkySpecs enables wind farm owners, service providers and manufacturers to monitor and track the health of their wind turbines with a 15-minute automated robotic inspection. A single button launches a drone, which surveys all sides of three blades, collecting high-resolution images that identify cracks, erosion, lightning strikes, and other anomalies. Data is sent to a web portal for viewing, annotating, and reporting. SkySpecs automates and streamlines the inspection process from the moment the inspection is scheduled to the time the repair crew is hired.

SkySpecs is a member of AWEA (the American Wind Energy Association), WindEurope, and the Commercial Drone Alliance.

“Last year we proved that SkySpecs is the best-in-class at collecting data that can be used to assess the health of energy infrastructure,” CEO Danny Ellis said in a statement. “This year we will enable owners to harness the power of the data collected by our automated drones in a platform that they can use to decide what to repair and when to repair it.”

Added Statkraft Ventures investment manager Alexander Jueppers: “SkySpecs is the fastest growing inspection company in the wind sector, making rotor blade inspections more precise and safe while keeping operations at a lower cost compared to traditional methods. Their technological expertise combined with scalable operations is the key to grow the business worldwide.”

Last year, SkySpecs said it became the only fully-automated wind turbine blade inspection solution on the market, completing a record-breaking 3,600 turbine inspections at more than 70 wind farms in the United States and Europe. The company also said it accomplished the technologically complex task of conducting offshore automated blade inspections without the need for human operation.

Jim Adox of Venture Investors, one of SkySpecs’ original investors, forecasts continued success for the growing SkySpecs’ team.

“2017 was a great year for SkySpecs,” Adox said. “We completed a strong first year of automated drone inspections for customers around the world, and capped off the year with the completion of an $8 million financing round, with the addition of four new investors. These investors bring relevant and diverse points-of-view on the renewable energy infrastructure inspection and data market to SkySpecs. We begin 2018 with a solid balance sheet, excellent investors, and a long list of customers.”

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