Echodyne raises $20M from Bill Gates and other investors for innovative radar system

Echodyne’s flat-panel radar antenna is small enough to be held in your hand. (Echodyne Photo)

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and other investors have contributed to a fresh $20 million funding round for Kirkland, Wash.-based Echodyne, a company that makes use of exotic metamaterials to build high-performance radars for government and commercial markets.

In today’s announcement, Echodyne said the additional capital will enable the company to meet growing demand for its EchoGuard 3D surveillance radar, expand its distribution channels and continue to invest in the development of sensors for commercial drones, autonomous vehicles and other applications.

The latest round’s other investors include firms that have previously backed Echodyne, including Madrona Ventures, NEA, Vulcan Capital and Lux Capital. But there’s a new backer on board as well: Vanedge Capital, which is based in Vancouver, B.C. Vanedge managing partner Moe Kermani will be added to Echodyne’s board of directors.

“Adding Vanedge to our existing blue-chip investors underscores Echodyne’s opportunity for breakthrough radar products in a number of industries,” Echodyne CEO Eben Frankenberg said in a statement.

“With our market-leading 3D radar for perimeter security and airspace management, an airborne radar for commercial UAS [unmanned aerial vehicle] detect-and-avoid, and a game-changing radar for autonomous vehicles to be unveiled later this year, Echodyne is poised for growth and expansion in a number of markets,” he said.

The Series C investments announced today follow up on a $29 million Series B funding round in 2017 and a $15 million Series A round in 2014.

Kermani said he was “delighted” to contribute to Echodyne’s growth. “Echodyne has brought to market a suite of highly differentiated products that are proven to be game-changers in a number of large markets,” he said.

Echodyne is one of several Gates-backed, metamaterials-based spin-outs from Bellevue, Wash.-based Intellectual Ventures. Metamaterials are electronic circuits that allow for the development of flat-panel antennas that can steer beams with no moving parts.

While the other spin-outs focus on applications such as satellite communications and laser scanning, Echodyne focuses on miniaturized radar systems. On Monday, the company announced that it has delivered 100 EchoGuard radar systems to a top-tier defense supplier for mission-critical ground and airspace perimeter security deployment in the U.S. and overseas.

That defense contract includes an option to provide additional radars in 2019 and subsequent years, Echodyne said.

This week’s announcements were released in conjunction with the GSX security industry conference in Chicago, where the EchoGuard radar system is on exhibit.