India’s Reliance backs US AI startup Ekin in $35M funding • TechCrunch | Daily News Byte

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Reliance has backed Philadelphia-based artificial intelligence and robotics startup Ekin, the Indian conglomerate disclosed in a stock market filing on Thursday, making further inroads into backing startups around the world.

Reliance Strategic Business Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries, has acquired a 23.3% stake in Ekin for $25 million, the Indian company said.

The Indian firm’s investment is part of a larger $35 million Series B funding round for the Philadelphia-based startup, which manages robotic autonomy for complex GPS-denied environments.

The AI ​​startup is “commercializing the world’s highest level of drone autonomy, Autonomy Level 4 (AL4). Ekin’s robots can navigate autonomously in previously inaccessible environments without a prior map, existing infrastructure (GPS, communications, etc.), or an operator in the loop “, according to the description on his website.

Reliance, which operates India’s largest retail chain as well as the country’s leading telecom operator, said it would find synergies with the startup on the Indian conglomerate’s initiatives in the fields of unmanned aerial vehicles, industrial safety, security and robotics, while accelerating “Ekin ‘s product and technology development in multiple areas of application and commercialization.”

The startup had revenue of $4.32 million, $1.83 million and $0.16 million in CI 2021, CI 2020 and CI 2019, the Indian company added.

Reliance Industries, or one of its units, has made a number of investments this year, including hyperlocal delivery startup Dunzo and Google-backed Android lock screen platform Glance.

In March, Reliance Strategic Business Ventures said it plans to invest up to $221 million in US electronics firm Sanmina to set up a joint venture as the Indian giant looks to expand its electronics manufacturing. The joint venture aims to create a “world-class” electronics manufacturing center in India, the two said.

Earlier on Thursday, Reliance said it had agreed to buy Metro AG’s Indian unit for $344 million. Metro, which entered the Indian market almost two decades ago, has 31 wholesale distribution centers across the country.

“With our mission to reduce injuries and fatalities in ‘physical’ industries that collect data in hazardous environments, this investment will accelerate Ekin’s impact and growth.” With this new capital, we will further expand our presence around the world to dramatically improve the safety of those working in hazardous environments around the world and protect them from harm,” said Nader Elm, CEO of Ekin, in a statement on Friday.

The story has been updated with more information about Ekin’s Series B funding round.

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