Ann Arbor startup SkySpecs lands $8 million investment

Drone inspection service plans to expand international operations

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

Photo: SkySpecs

ANN ARBOR - It's another day, and another Ann Arbor startup is making headlines.

This time, it's SkySpecs, which provides an inspection service for wind turbines using drones, eliminating the need for technicians (often called "skyworkers") to conduct the high-risk job hundreds of feet in the air.

It raised $8 million in a Series B funding round led by Germany-based Statkraft Ventures and joined by two new investors, Capital Midwest Fund (Wisconsin) and UL Ventures (Illinois). Two existing investors Huron River Ventures (Ann Arbor) and Venture Investors (Wisconsin) participated in the round.

"SkySpecs is the fastest growing inspection company in the wind sector, making rotor blade inspections more precise and safe while keeping operations at a lower cost compared to traditional methods," said Alexander Kueppers, investment manager at Statkraft Ventures in a news release. "Their technological expertise combined with scalable operations is the key to grow the business worldwide."

SkySpecs CEO Danny Ellis remarked on what customers can expect from the service this year.

(Photo: SkySpecs)

"Last year we proved that SkySpecs is the best-in-class at collecting data that can be used to assess the health of energy infrastructure," Ellis said. "This year we will enable owners to harness the power of the data collected by our automated drones in a platform that they can use to decide what to repair and when to repair it." 

Skyspecs inspections take 15 minutes with no additional human oversight, saving time and money for wind farm owners. The average industrial wind turbine stands at 212 feet, its blades spanning 116 feet, and traditional inspections were time-consuming, laborious and dangerous for technicians.

According to SkySpecs, more than 20 inspections per day can be carried out by one drone.

(Photo: SkySpecs)

Since 2013, SkySpecs has won several awards, including the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge put on by University of Michigan and DTE Energy Co., first place at Acceleration Michigan Innovation, and a research grant from the National Science Foundation.

Until now, SkySpecs has been inspecting wind turbines in the U.S. and Europe, and with this new investment, plans to further develop its drone data-collecting software and to expand its international operations.

Read about more Ann Arbor startups in the headlines:

VentureBeat: Duo's success confirms Ann Arbor as a tech hub
Duo Security raises $70 million, now worth more than $1 billion
Ann Arbor-based Llamasoft partners with Zipline to save lives
Ann Arbor's Forever Labs listed among Y Combinator startups to watch


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