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Defence startup Tonbo Imaging gets $17 mn from WRV Capital, others

Bengaluru- and Palo Alto-based Tonbo Imaging Pvt. Ltd, which develops imaging technology for armed forces across the globe, has raised $17 million (around Rs 109 crore) in its Series B round of funding.

The funding round was led by WRV Capital with participation from Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, Edelweiss Private Equity and US-based early-stage investor Artiman Ventures which had backed the firm in its Series A round.

The firm will use the funds to enhance dominance as a designer and manufacturer of night vision imaging systems for defence, surveillance and transportation safety markets, it said in a statement.

The startup will also use the financing to expand its global reach in defence markets, accelerate product growth and innovation in automotive safety markets as well as evaluate strategic acquisition opportunities in lasers and photonics, it said.

As part of the latest round of funding, Ganapathy Subramaniam from WRV Capital and Pranav Parikh from Edelweiss Private Equity have joined Tonbo’s board.

The company, which was launched in 2007, combines innovations in the image acquisition process along with computer vision algorithms to ensure superior imaging and scene interpretation for a range of applications.

Tonbo’s products are deployed in around 25 countries addressing needs spanning surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting across ground, air and naval applications, according to its website.

Tonbo’s technology is used in unmanned vehicles and drones by the defence sector all over the world, including Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in India.

Tonbo’s growth has been driven by increased demand from emerging countries that are looking to modernise their ageing military equipment, the firm said.

In October 2012, Tonbo, which was earlier known as Serial Innovations India Pvt. Ltd, secured Rs 34 crore ($6.4 million then) from Artiman Ventures.

After raising its Series A funding, Tonbo has grown its staff to over 170 imaging, machine learning and computer vision engineers located in Bengaluru, Palo Alto, Greece, Poland and Singapore.

“Tonbo’s team is responsible for some of the most sophisticated camera technologies in the world, qualified for both military and commercial use,” said Varsha Tagare, managing director, Qualcomm Ventures India.

"We aim to democratise night vision imaging technology,” said Arvind Lakshmikumar, chief executive of Tonbo Imaging.

Veda Corporate Advisors acted as adviser to Tonbo Imaging.

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