Drone Fund announces $27M second fund; Japan soccer star Honda joins as investor

For the press conference at Ryugasaki Airport in Ibaraki, a drone demonstration flight was given, having obtained permission from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the original story in Japanese.

Japan’s Drone Fund, the fund led by the Japanese angel investor Kotaro Chiba focusing on investment into drone startups, last month announced the establishment of its second fund. The second fund will be offered from 1st of August and be closed on 30th of this September. The fund is seen reaching 3 billion yen (about $27 million) to 5 billion (about $45 million) at the highest, with oversubscription twice the size of their first fund. They offered the first fund expecting 1 billion yen and fully closed for 1.6 billion yen this February. The Drone Fund has already invested in 20 companies (19 domestic companies and U.S.-based Sabrewing).

The anchor investors of the second fund include anew Mizuho Bank, KDDI, the founding family of Mabuchi Motor, footballer Keisuke Honda as KSK Angel Fund and Sega Sammy Group, along with first fund investors such as Canal Ventures (VC arm of Japanese leading system integration company Nihon Unisys), FFG Venture Business Partners (the Bank of Fukuoka’s venture capital), Mistletoe, Aucfan, Japan Asia Group and Leave a Nest that are continuing to take part in the second fund.

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Japanese soccer star Keisuke Honda (left) shakes hands with and Kotaro Chiba (right), the founder of Drone Fund
Image credit: Drone Fund

During the press conference held at Ryugasaki Airport in Ibaraki, Chiba explained the purpose of the second fund as focusing on investment in ‘creation of drone-based society’ and ‘preparation for air-mobility society’. Additionally, its official character Misora Kanata was introduced, aiming to improve awareness of drone and air-mobility society. This character, with the personality of a high school girl living in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward in 2022 was designed by Japanese designer Yamakitakumi.

Misora Kanata, Image character of Drone Fund
Image credit: Drone Fund

After the press conference, demonstrations of the first fund’s investment targets were offered: Speeder-One, the hoverbike runnable on public roads as developed by Aerial Lab Industries and ACSL-PF1, industrial drone platform developed by ACSL. In addition, Chiba’s own light aircraft PA-28 Cherokee as his training plane was shown. The illustration of Misora Kanata is drawn on its main wings and main body.

Yukino Moroe, fashion model riding on mock-up of hoverbike Speeder-One
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda
Keisuke Honda’s signature on head of mock-up of hoverbike Speeder-One
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, recently announced that the Japanese government will formulate a progression schedule of air-mobility development and promote entry of new drone-related players.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy