Makeblock has raised $30 million in a second round of funding for robotics with an educational twist.
Evolution Media China and Shenzhen Capital Group led the financing for Shenzhen, China-based Makeblock, which has created a variety of robots — from aerial drones to manufacturing robots to toy robots.
The funds support Makeblock’s expansion into new markets, as well as further product development and diversification of science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) education hardware and software, and curriculum resources for educators, children, and hobbyists. Makeblock’s total funding to date is $36 million.
Currently, Makeblock is available in more than 140 countries, with 1,600 channel partners and 20,000 schools and educational organizations implementing Makeblock’s products into their educational curriculum.
“We’re excited to support Makeblock at this pivotal point in their growth as they continue to elevate STEM education to a new level” said Jason Ding, president at Evolution Media China, in a statement. “STEM education is the next industry to experience deep disruption, following in the footsteps of the mobile, IoT, and virtual reality industries. Over the past few years, Makeblock has been leading the charge in creating practical products for STEM education in the classroom and at home, and we believe this is just the beginning of their path to transforming education.”
Makeblock has seen rapid growth in the past year, expanding its workforce to over 300 employees worldwide. In addition to furthering STEM/STEAM education distribution, this latest round of funding will be used for the development of new initiatives built upon the company’s most recent work with Microsoft, Intel, and beyond. The infusion of capital will also allow Makeblock to expand its global offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, North America, Japan, and the Netherlands.
The company will be expanding its retail reach in the coming months, deepening its partnership with Barnes & Noble and SoftBank to put Makeblock products in more stores across the globe.
“Creation is happening everywhere at an explosive rate. From schools using Makeblock to teaching STEM concepts, to tech giants like Microsoft, Intel, Apple Education tapping Makeblock to unleash creativity in the classroom, down to parents at home trying to aid in their child’s education, the true power of Makeblock as a platform is to inspire creation,” said Makeblock CEO Jasen Wang, in a statement. “Our goal is to get Makeblock in every school, every home, every creative space to give anyone, at any age the ability to be a creator or inventor.”
The funding will support the launch of Makeblock’s first annual robotics competition later in 2017, which will encourage students to compete with their creative projects using Makeblock’s construction platform. This competition is in support of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s “Thirteenth Five Year Plan” on education, which was announced in 2016.
Makeblock’s latest product, Airblock, a modular STEM drone that raised $830,000 on Kickstarter in December 2016, will be available for purchase in retail stores starting May 2017. And on March 8, Makeblock took to Kickstarter to announce a new product — Neuron, a programmable electronic blocks platform for open-ended gadget building.
The company was started in 2011.