Japanese robotics startup GITAI raises $4.1m from Spiral Ventures, others

GITAI, a Japanese robotics startup in the space industry, has secured a $4.1 million fresh funding led by Spiral Ventures, with participation from DBJ Capital, J-Power and existing backer Coral Capital (the local fund of 500 Startups).

The company said it targeted to raise as much as $10 million in this round from a number of funds and corporate investors. “Discussions are currently under way,” GITAI said in a statement, adding that it expected to close the fundraising within this year.

The injected capital will be used to support the ongoing development of GITAI’s task substitution robot, and a planned launch of a demonstration model to the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of 2020.

“Low earth orbit space stations such as the ISS are being considered as platforms for commercial activities, and with US companies developing a host of commercial space stations intended to serve as space hotels and science labs, the demand is growing even more,” the company said.

GITAI produces robots to replace astronauts performing space operations. It had a joint research contract with JAXA in December 2018, and sealed a memorandum of understanding with Sky Perfect JSAT, Asia’s largest satellite communication provider, earlier this year.

The GITAI sixth-generation robot, the startup said, has succeeded in conducting operations such as switch operations, using tools, handling soft objects, performing scientific experiments and heavy load manipulations.

Spiral Ventures, formerly IMJ Investment Partners, said the financing for GITAI was made through its debut Japan fund. The vehicle was closed last year at an oversubscribed 7 billion yen ($64 million). Focusing on Japan and Southeast Asia, the VC firm is also managing the Spiral Ventures Asia Fund I, which targets a $50 million corpus.

GITAI had reportedly raised a seed round of $1.25 million in 2017, joined by 500 Startups Japan. Among its new investors, DBJ Capital is the investment arm of the Development Bank of Japan.