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Unmanned Defense Systems raises €3.2M to scale battlefield-tested UAVs and advance AI-based swarm integrations with contemporary BMS

The combined funding round will allow Unmanned Defense Systems to accelerate the development of proprietary swarm technologies, foster advancements in drone autonomy and inter-drone coordination, and expand product exports in the new markets. 

VILNIUS, Lithuania (24 May, 2024) – Unmanned Defence Systems (UDS), a leading Lithuanian defense & dual-use technology company, announced today that it secured €3.2 million in funding from a group of private investors, led by VC fund Coinvest Capital. 


Seasoned aerospace entrepreneurs with a proven track record and distinguished careers in steering novel technological innovations - Vytenis Buzas, one of the creators of the first Lithuanian satellite "Lituanica SAT-1" and the space mission leader, and Ernestas Kalabuckas, "Lithuanian CTO of the Year 2022" - are taking top leadership positions at UDS and contributing personally €1.1 million to the company. 


Coinvest Capital, with a group of accredited 7 business angels and 1 angel syndicate of 41 private investors, is co-investing a total of €1.6 million with a fund’s share of €0.9 million. An additional tranch of €0.5 million is reserved for international investors with dual-use sector expertise, to be closed within the next few months.     


Unmanned Defence Systems is an advanced swarm technology solutions company, focusing on the AI-based integration of swarm drones with contemporary battlefield management systems (BMS). UDS has also designed its own fleet of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), ranging from reconnaissance drones Partisan to loitering munition and FPV drones. The mix of the company’s proprietary expertise, and the fusion of advanced in-house AI, robotics, and space technology skills place the team well ahead of its competitors. 


The company has already won multiple defense procurement tenders and supplies its solutions to the Lithuanian and Ukrainian armed forces, other EU members, and NATO allies. 


Investments will be directed to continue developing proprietary swarm technologies, fostering advancements in drone autonomy and inter-drone coordination, strengthening NATO’s military capacity, and aligning it with the demands of 21st-century warfare.  Drone swarms with advanced sensors and cutting-edge AI-driven data processing capabilities can revolutionize situational awareness, providing military commanders with unprecedented real-time intelligence, inherent adaptability, and versatility, that can swiftly respond to changing conditions on the battlefield.


Vytenis Buzas, nominated Executive Chairman of the Board, says: We have the ambition to prove to the world that Lithuania is as great in developing high-tech military UAVs, as we are in aerospace or lasers. I am confident in the engineering talent of our team, including PhDs in aerodynamics, electronics, and physics, who also happen to be world champions in sports gliding and radio-controlled planes in their free time. Moreover, the team is united by a burning inner drive to help Ukrainians win this brutal war.”


Ernestas Kalabuckas, incoming CTO (Chief Technology Officer), adds: “War in Ukraine has demonstrated a transformative potential of UAVs, even those not yet functioning in swarms. They play pivotal roles in intelligence gathering, surveillance, and precision strikes. We are grateful to our military partners in Ukraine for running frequent tests together in the actual warzone, enabling agile and swift technology upgrades in response to the constantly changing conditions on the battlefield.”


Laurynas Kasčiūnas, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Lithuania, asserts: Lithuania can have its own success story. We no longer have the luxury of standing still when the development of technology is currently very fast and dynamic. We must keep pace with the latest military trends and be able to effectively integrate them into our defence system.” 


Viktorija Trimbel, Managing Director at Coinvest Capital, who has led transaction negotiations, emphasizes: “Investments in deterrence & defense have become a theme of the year in Europe, as we unite efforts to strengthen resilience and support Ukrainian nation, heroically holding up against a brutal attack and defending our shared freedom and values. We were impressed by the engineering talent and business acumen of the UDS team, the range of products already proven in Ukraine and the strategically thought-through roadmap. Being a sovereign VC fund, the first and the largest in the Baltics, fully authorized to invest in defense, we have patient capital and a mission that perfectly aligns with the specifics of defense and dual-use innovation needs and decision-making cycles.”    


Jonas Oehman, the founder of the Blue/Yellow NGO, supporting Ukrainian military forces since 2014, adds: "Lithuania must not only engage in drone warfare development and expansion, it must own a production base, to help neighboring countries and to develop a proper drone warfare concept for itself. In this context, the current purchases and investments are an important step forward. We are already moving into the future warfare space.”


Investors will be represented on the Board of the company by experienced business angels Giedrimas Jeglinskas, former NATO Assistant General Secretary and former Vice-minister of defense of the Republic of Lithuania, and Šarūnas Račkauskas, a seasoned aviation industry entrepreneur with 25+ years of experience, founder and CEO of US company “Atlantic Jet Support, Inc”.


Business angels, that co-invested with the Fund, are members of the Lithuanian Business Angel Network,  including its Board members Vladas Lašas, Rita Sakus, Martynas Kandzeras, and Gytenis Galkis, also Giedrimas Jeglinskas, Šarūnas Račkauskas, Paulius Vilemas, and Linas Sargautis. The round was also joined with €0.4 million by a private syndicate 2NGLS, financed by 41 private investors.


Paulius Dabulskis, Senior Associate at TGS Baltic, representing UDS, and Andrius Ivanauskas, Partner at Walless, representing the investors, provided legal advice to this investment transaction. 


Contact details:

For Unmanned Defence Systems:

Vytenis Buzas, nominated Executive Chairman of the Board vytenis@udefenses.com, +370 620 55 515

For the Fund:

Viktorija Trimbel, Managing Director at Coinvest Capital, Board member at Lithuanian Business Angels Network viktorija.trimbel@coinvest.lt, +370 610 62 000  


About Unmanned Defense Systems


Unmanned Defence Systems (UDS) is an advanced swarm technology solutions company, focusing on the AI-based integration of swarm UAVs (unmanned areial vehicles) with contemporary battlefield management systems (BMS). UDS has also designed its own unmanned fleet, ranging from reconnaissance drones Partisan to loitering munition and FPV drones. The mix of the company’s proprietary expertise, and the fusion of advanced in-house AI, robotics, and space technology skills place the team well ahead of its competitors. 


The company has already won multiple defense procurement tenders and supplies its solutions to the Lithuanian and Ukrainian armed forces, other EU members, and NATO allies. 


About Coinvest Capital


Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Vilnius, Coinvest Capital is a sector- and stage-agnostic sovereign venture capital fund, focusing on the early-stage Lithuanian startup and business angel ecosystem. Coinvest Capital invests at pari-passu terms and also offers a unique in-the-world incentive for accredited private co-investors, transferring to them portfolio exit premiums above 6% per year.  


Currently, Coinvest Capital has dry-powder (available capital) of €8,54 million and has already co-invested with other VCs and private investors €32,5 million in 35 Lithuanian startups, ranging from defense, ClimateTech, MedTech, DeepTech to other sectors of strategic importance. This funding volume includes €17,1 million in investments from the fund itself and €11,0 million from private accredited co-investors, eligible for the profit-sharing incentive. 


The Fund is wholly owned by the national development agency INVEGA, acting as its single LP, and is funded from capital sources, contributed by the Lithuanian state and the European Union. 


More from the business angels


Giedrimas Jeglinskas, former NATO Assistant General Secretary and former Vice-minister of defence of the Republic of Lithuania, co-investing his personal funds and nominated to represent investors on the board of the company:

  • “UDS drone solutions are an example of a Lithuanian technological breakthrough, which reflects the realities of today's changes in warfare and opens up unlimited potential in the dual-use market. At the NATO level, the guidance of a common "drone" doctrine will open up opportunities for cutting-edge technology developers such as UDS to grow both in NATO and in friendly markets further afield. Also, I believe, the success of UDS is, proof that in Lithuania's drone ecosystem, public-private cooperation is working and bringing concrete capability to the Lithuanian Armed Forces and other institutions.”


Šarūnas Račkauskas, founder and CEO of US company “Atlantic Jet Support, Inc”, a seasoned aviation industry entrepreneur with 25+ years of business experience in the United States and one of the most active business angels in Lithuania:

  • "UDS solutions for UAVs and swarm control technologies are a good example of how Lithuanian innovators, working in partnership with the military, state institutions and the support of private investors, are developing new, battle-tested products that are needed by today's defence industry for the NATO Alliance market. The flexible and rapid response of UDS to the needs of military forces will ensure that NATO Allies have the right tools in an ever-changing technological military threat landscape. It is encouraging that policy makers, investors and innovators are able to work together for a secure future for us all."


Gytenis Galkis, founder and board member of LitBAN, active VC investor

  • "I am delighted to have contributed to this complex and highly significant deal. Together with my colleague, Justinas Pašys, we assembled an investment syndicate of 41 business angels. Each of us recognizes the critical importance of this startup in defending and protecting both us and our allies.”


Rita Sakus, Board member at EBAN (European Business Angel Network) and LitBAN (Lithuanian Business Angels Network):

  • “More than ever in history investing in cutting-edge dual-use deep tech innovation is mission critical to develop what will be used deter the enemy and preserve peace.  Now is the time to invest at the earliest stages in revolutionary engineering and scientific solutions we need to keep us safe and help our allies win across multiple battlefields.”


Vladas Lašas, Chairman of Lithuanian Business Angels Network, co-founder of Carbon War Room, multiple technology companies, startups and NGOs: 

  • “I have known Vytenis and Ernestas as trailblazing aerospace entrepreneurs for over a decade. I am delighted with their achievements and I am confident that the team they have assembled will make a major breakthrough in the field of defense technology, which is so important to us all.”

 

Images of UDS’ fixed-wing UAVs, photographer Gabrielius Jauniškis, taken at the unofficial NATO Summit side event, co-hosted by Coinvest Capital  



Image Gallery of ©Unmanned Defence Systems




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