Fotokite secures CHF 13.7 million to expand operations

Zurich-based Fotokite offering autonomous tethered drones for firefighting and public safety teams has completed its series B round led by MSA Safety, a global provider of advanced safety solutions that protect people and facility infrastructures. Along with the investment, Fotokite had a change of management with a new CEO that will support the company's plans of expanding operations in 2022. 

As a self-piloting, actively tethered aerial device, Fotokite Sigma provides immediate aerial situational awareness of an emergency scene to help increase response effectiveness and first responder safety. These situational awareness systems provide fire departments with the overhead aerial capabilities they desire without the safety issues and operational inefficiencies of traditional drones.

In July 2021, MSA Safety, the global leader in the development, manufacture, and supply of advanced safety solutions that protect people and facility infrastructures and Fotokite signed a joint Joint Development Agreement. MSA Safety employs approximately 5,200 people worldwide and recorded revenues of $1.35 billion in 2020. “MSA has invested heavily in transformative solutions that enhance worker safety in all kinds of environments, and our partnership with Fotokite adds a dynamic new element in that journey. Without question, it will be exciting to see the innovations in safety that emerge from our work together,” Nish Vartanian, MSA’s Chairman, President and CEO.

In parallel to the collaboration, MSA safety has invested in the UAV startup, taking the lead role in the Series B financing round. Further participants include Swisscanto Invest, a Zurich-based tech growth fund and existing investors, Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital Ltd and Sony Innovation Fund.

The capital infusion is helping enable Fotokite to scale up operations, further bolster its in-house engineering team, and continue to drive sales of its Fotokite Sigma system in North American and European markets. The company has continued to strengthen its presence in the United States and Canada while expanding its fleet of fielded systems across major European markets such as Switzerland, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. A key component to this market expansion has been the company’s drive to increase the regional accessibility of Fotokite Sigma systems to public safety teams across 17 countries in Europe alone.

New CEO takes his seat
With the new investment came the expansion of Fotokite’s team. The startup has welcomed Bart Slager as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer. Bart was brought onto the Fotokite team as the Chief Financial Officer last September and steps in to lead the team. Chris McCall will transition into a new role as Fotokite’s Chief Corporate Development Officer and be based in California. Sergei Lupashin, Founder, Chairman and CTO of Fotokite, has decided to move away from his day-to-day operations role as CTO and will focus solely on his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

“Bart brings tremendously valuable experience and insights from his rich career in the aviation industry. We are very pleased to have his leadership as we execute on our mission to help teams save lives by providing the best technology and actionable intelligence to first responders”, Sergei Lupashin, Founder of Fotokite, Chairman.

(Press release/RAN)