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Accel and DJI Announce Their $10 Million Drone Fund

DJI and Accel will both choose which drone companies are funded.

Shutterstock / Piotr Debowski

Get prepared for more drones.

As Re/code previously reported, startup investment firm Accel and Chinese drone company DJI will be co-running a fund focused on the unmanned aerial vehicle ecosystem. They’re contributing equal amounts of money to the $10 million fund, called SkyFund, and will both decide what companies receive backing.

“Rarely are there situations when an entirely new computing platform gets introduced that has applicability on the global scale,” Sameer Gandhi, Accel’s partner leading the fund, told Re/code in an interview. “Our belief is: This is one of those opportunities.” He cited Accel’s history of investing in companies that built a platform for developers — Facebook, Cloudera, Dropbox, Atlassian.

“The thing that excites us the most is long-term possibilities of what people can do in a variety of industries,” Eric Cheng, DJI’s U.S. General Manager, added.

The fund will focus on investing in software and apps that turn drones into multi-purpose machines for things like aerial imaging, agricultural management and oil and gas mining. The fund will also invest in drone infrastruture that improves UAV performance, such as computational imagery, battery life and propulsion technology.

When asked whether SkyFund could invest in drone companies that are competitors to DJI, Cheng demurred. “Right now, some of those terms are being finalized for us,” he said.

Gandhi said that nothing is ruled out: “The fund has a broader charter. Where we feel there’s interesting opportunities we’ll evaluate them as well.”

This is the first venture fund focused on the nascent drone industry, aside from a $359K angel investment syndicate. As funds go, the $10 million sum isn’t huge, but Accel and DJI hope it will motivate entrepreneurs to develop for the UAV ecosystem.

Gandhi also said that $10 million is just the “initial” commitment to SkyFund. “We expect that over time the pool of capital will be quite a bit larger than that.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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