Funding for venture-backed drone companies in the U.S., China, Europe and Israel hit a record in 2015, Lora Kolodny reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. The startups raised $855.3 million in funding through Dec. 22, according to industry tracker Dow Jones VentureSource. Venture-backed drone companies received $94.4 million in funding in all of 2014.
A handful of early leaders in the consumer drone market, most notably SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd., sucked up the majority of the dollars invested in 2015. Shenzhen-based DJI, best-known for its Phantom line of drones and other consumer products, raised $575 million in two rounds of venture funding.
The remaining investments in drone technology mostly went to companies making software or systems that enhance a drone’s intelligence, or companies that make or tailor drones for use in specific industries, especially media, construction, energy, telecommunications and agriculture.
The move beyond hardware signals a trend that venture investors say is likely to continue in 2016.