The Cottonwood Euro Technology Fund, the American-based seed and early-stage fund who opened it’s first European fund in Enschede, is investing 1.6 million euros in Clear Flight Solutions, a robotics drone spin-off company from the University of Twente. With this investment Clear Flight Solutions will focus on becoming worldwide market leader in bird control solutions with their lifelike robotic birds.
The damage birds inflict at airports worldwide is estimated in the billions of dollars, including both property damage and occasionally loss of life. Birds also create billions of dollars of damage in agriculture, at waste management sites, oil and gas industrial sites and at harbors. The problem is that birds are intelligent and learn how to circumnavigate existing bird control solutions. Clear Flight Solutions builds lifelike robotic birds, “robirds,” that mimic the real flight of a peregrine falcon (a natural predator for most nuisance birds) so well that real birds believe they are their natural enemies. This natural approach plays on the fear instinct of the birds, which short circuits the learning process and prevents habituation.
Video of the Peregrine Falcon Robird flying
“We have completed a very successful trial at waste management site in Twente, which is one of the most challenging environments. Currently, we have committed to a number of trial runs and are in discussion across every application area – including one of the leading European airports. Cottonwood’s investment will allow us to execute these trials, and their worldwide network with industry leaders will bring our company to the next level,’ says Nico Nijenhuis, CEO of Clear Flight Solutions.
“The bird control problem is much bigger than we initially imagined. Clear Flight Solutions has developed technology with tremendous potential that addresses a global problem. We have also identified various other applications of the technology. That makes this the ideal business case for our first European investment,’ says Ray Quintana, lead general partner of the Cottonwood Euro Technology Fund.
‘The University of Twente is a pioneer of innovation and entrepreneurship. This first investment by Cottonwood in one of our spin-off companies proves our leading position and our quality,’ says Victor van der Chijs, president of the University of Twente. ‘This further validates that Twente and Kennispark are frontrunners in the European ecosystem for technology startups,’ adds Kees Eijkel, CEO Kennispark Twente.
Cottonwood is one of the top performing seed/early stage venture capital funds in the United States. They focus on regions rich in technology, but outside Silicon Valley and Boston. Cottonwood started their activities in Europe in July 2014. To date the Cottonwood fund has partnered with Thales Netherlands, the University of Twente, The Region of Twente, The Source and Job Elders (Nanotech Ventures) for its European activities. The Cottonwood Euro Technology Fund is based at Kennispark, the innovation campus in Enschede, the Netherlands but anticipates partners and investors from throughout the Netherlands and Northern Europe as it grows its European operations.