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Gecko Robotics added $100M to its Series C. What does that mean for Pittsburgh tech?

Tech community leaders say the raise signals that investors still believe in Pittsburgh, despite a tough year for venture capital.

Cofounder and CEO Jake Loosararian (left) with Mayor Ed Gainey at the May 2022 ribbon cutting ceremony at Gecko Robotics' offices in Nova Place. (Courtesy photo)

Amid a year with notably less VC funding flowing into Pittsburgh, Gecko Robotics has counted a series of wins — including an added $100 million for its Series C, the North Side-based robotics company announced today. The round now totals $173 million, after Gecko raised $73 million in March 2022.

Gecko, which makes industrial infrastructure inspections technology, also in the past few months expanded its work with the US Navy and launched its Cantilever product, which is designed for customers in the defense, manufacturing and energy sectors. Now, Gecko Robotics is primed to leave 2023 with one of the biggest raises in the region. (Stack AV is said to have raised $1 billion from SoftBank.)

The investment comes from the US Innovative Technology Fund and Founders Fund, who will be adding representatives to the company’s corporate board. Gecko Robotics CEO Jake Loosararian said the investment will be used to “supercharge” the company’s work by ensuring that the military’s assets remain able to protect national security.

“From our work getting ships out of maintenance cycles faster to helping build the next generation of military equipment, Gecko is proud to be increasing our partnerships with the US Military — and we’re looking forward to having USIT and Founders Fund onboard helping us continue that growth,” Loosarian said in a written statement.

A spokesperson for the company did not immediately respond to Technical.ly’s request for details about how the funding will be used, current employee count and hiring plans, and what’s to come in the company’s future.

Within the Pittsburgh tech community, stakeholders told Technical.ly this investment says positive things about the future of the city’s robotics sector.

“Great entrepreneurs who go after solving big problems … often really do. Gecko has succeeded in solving real world problems in large addressable markets. We’re excited for what this means for the region’s robotics industry,” Pittsburgh Technology Council SVP for Operations and Government Affairs Brian Kennedy said. “Gecko has been an active member of [PTC’s] Defense Robotics Coalition and we’ve been proud to work with them.”

The sentiment was echoed by Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute Director Matthew Johnson-Roberson, who noted that the amount raised is impressive and shows that the city was continuing to nurture robotics startups. The investment also signifies that Pittsburgh is still a place seen worthy of investment, Johnson-Roberson said.

“This milestone is a testament to both the team’s dedication at Gecko and the increasing viability of later-stage funding for pioneering ventures in the region,” he said.

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Gecko Robotics
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