The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing €15 million in financing to Blickfeld GmbH, a manufacturer of hardware and software for smart LiDAR solutions. The funding is provided under the EIB’s venture debt programme, which is tailored to the specific financing needs of high-growth innovative companies. The sums are secured by a guarantee from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), also known as the “Juncker Plan.”
LiDAR stands for light detection and ranging and is a method for capturing the environment. Light is used in the form of a pulsed laser to recognise, categorise and count objects. LiDAR sensors generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape and surface properties of surrounding objects. In the future, LiDAR will increasingly be used in autonomous driving and many industrial applications.
The technology is already used in the data protection-compliant collection of vehicle and people flow in the retail space and public places. It is also used to optimise traffic flows in urban planning (smart cities) and to reduce false alarms in building and security systems. The detailed three-dimensional capture of the environment can also help to measure materials such as sugar beets, fertiliser or recycled materials that were previously complex and cost-intensive to quantify.
Blickfeld will use the additional capital to accelerate the development of its LiDAR solutions in autonomous driving and a variety of industrial applications, and to expand its position in key international markets. Today, the number of employees is 130 and is growing rapidly. The company is currently opening regional offices in international markets such as the US and China. The technology is optimised for use in many new applications.
EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle, who is responsible for Germany and EFSI, said: “With our venture debt program, we support innovative young companies that need long-term growth capital to fully focus on the further development of their products and their global marketing. The funding of Blickfeld shows the EIB’s strong commitment to supporting innovative early-stage companies to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness.”
European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni said: “Thanks to this EIB financing, backed by the Investment Plan for Europe, German technology company Blickfeld will be able to scale-up and further develop its innovative 3D light detection and ranging solutions. The funding will support the creation of completely new areas of application, be it in autonomous driving and smart mobility, in the construction industry or in agriculture. Investments such as these not only strengthen the competitiveness of Europe’s industry but also contribute to more efficient and sustainable supply chains.”
Mathias Müller, founder and CEO of Blickfeld, said: “The EIB’s support is testimony to Blickfeld’s maturity as a company and the confidence that those responsible have in the potential of our LiDAR technology. The capital provided by the EIB is the ideal financial instrument for us to expand even faster. We are convinced that our LiDAR solutions will make a real difference for many industries and we are very pleased that the EIB has recognised an important innovative technology that will strengthen Europe’s position as a key centre of industry and business.”
The European Investment Bank operates in around 160 countries and is the world’s largest multilateral lender for climate action projects. Recently, the EIB Group adopted its Climate Bank Roadmap to achieve its ambitious goals: in the decade to 2030, it intends to mobilise €1 trillion for climate action and environmentally sustainable investments, and by 2025, it plans to provide more than 50% of its financing for climate action and environmental sustainability. In accordance with this roadmap, all new financing provided by the EIB Group has been aligned with the objectives and principles of the Paris Agreement since the start of 2021.
The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), known as the Juncker Plan, secures the EIB’s investments with EU guarantees and is the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. Under EFSI, the EIB and the European Commission work closely to strengthen the competitiveness of Europe’s economy. EFSI provides first-loss guarantees that enable the EIB Group to invest in riskier projects. The projects and agreements financed under EFSI have led to investments of €524.3 billion, benefiting more than 1.4 million small and medium sized enterprises.
Blickfeld GmbH was founded in Munich in 2017. It is a provider of 3D LiDAR products and perception software for autonomous vehicles and IoT applications. LiDAR products meet the highest standards in terms of the performance, cost and size required for the mass market. Today’s focus is on software-defined LiDAR technology to make the solutions increasingly powerful and flexible and to bring analysis capability directly to the device. Blickfeld is financially supported by Bayern Kapital, Continental, Fluxunit – ams OSRAM Ventures, High-Tech Gründerfonds, New Future Capital (NFC), Tengelmann Ventures and UVC Partners.