Drone Firm Blue Innovation Said to Win Funding From Japan's NVCC

Blue Innovation Co., a Japanese company that provides civil engineering services using drones, will raise about 500 million yen ($4.2 million) from Nippon Venture Capital Co., people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Tokyo-based company plans to use the proceeds to develop a system to manage multiple drones flying on autopilot in factories and other indoor spaces, according to two of the people. The money will come from a fund managed by NVCC whose investors include wireless carrier KDDI Corp., Bank of Kyoto Ltd. and Omron Corp.’s venture-capital arm, the two people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Japan has stepped up regulation of unmanned aircraft, after national headlines earlier this year about a drone found on the roof of the prime minister’s office and another colliding with Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in western Japan. Last month, parliament passed a law requiring permission for drones to fly in certain areas including heavily-populated residential districts.

Blue Innovation plans to partner with Japan’s Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, a research body in Kyoto prefecture with private-sector backing, to develop the drone control system, according to two of the people. The system would include a security system to ensure drones can only be activated by authorized users, and could see them fly by autopilot inside buildings for inspections, deliveries and security, one person said.

The company, which was founded in 1999, is run by Chief Executive Officer Takayuki Kumada. It provides drones to clients including government institutions, construction companies and advertising firms for purposes like shooting commercials and monitoring beaches for disaster prevention.

Representatives for Blue Innovation, NVCC and Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International declined to comment.

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