TDK Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Japanese electronics firm TDK Corporation, has invested an undisclosed amount in AutoFlightX, an electric air mobility company headquartered in Munich, Germany and with R&D centres in Shanghai and Shenzhen.
AutoFlightX, which started in February 2018, is involved in the development, production, sales, and operation of electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles. The vehicles can be used as regularly piloted sports aircraft, as unmanned highly automated cargo drones, and as unpiloted highly automated air taxis.
Its 50-kilogram platform can carry payloads of up to 20 kg and has a flight time of two to five hours continuous cruise. The company also has a pipeline of platforms that can carry up to 300 kg and can fly two to five hours, depending on the payload.
The startup was founded by Tian YU, the former founder and CEO of Chinese aircraft manufacturer Yuneec, with a vision to transform air mobility.
AutoFlightX is the fourth investment by the $50-million TDK corporate venture capital fund since its launch in July 2019. The fund is targeting to dole out cheques of up to $2.5 million for each bet in innovative startups focusing on digital and energy transformation and contributing to sustainability.
“We believe AutoFlightX’s innovations reflect a combination of the best consumer drone talent from China paired with the aviation engineering rigor of Germany,” said TDK Ventures’ Managing Director Nicolas Sauvage.
The fund’s three other portfolio companies are SLD Laser, a US-based manufacturer of new generation visible laser light sources; Wheels, operator of a shared electric mobility platform; and Starship Technologies, a robotics company building a network of autonomous delivery robots.
TDK Ventures has been scouting for companies to invest in as it seeks to carve out its path in the alternative assets industry.
Its investments are more strategic in nature as it seeks to bolster innovation in material science, energy/power and related areas that are typically underrepresented in venture capital portfolios.
The fund is seeking to back early-stage startups, innovators and university researchers in the areas of industrial internet of things (IIoT), magnetics, piezoelectrics, dielectrics, semiconductors, organic materials, and neuro-electricals, both from a pure fundamental material approach up to a full-stack approach.
TDK Corporation is an electronics company based in Tokyo, Japan. The company has a network of design and manufacturing locations and sales offices in Asia, Europe, and in North and South America. In fiscal 2019, TDK posted total sales of $12.5 billion and employed about 105,000 people worldwide.