Porsche joined by Hyundai Motor to lead $80 million Series C financing in Swiss deep-tech startup WayRay
WayRay, a Swiss tech startup that makes holographic AR displays for cars, has secured $80 million funding to establish an affiliate with a pilot production line in Germany. The Series C financing was led by Porsche, Hyundai Motor, Alibaba Group, China Merchants Capital, JVCKENWOOD, and Consortium of Sovereign Wealth Funds (JBIC and partners). The newly raised funds will bolster the company’s focus on R&D, industrialization and team expansion to become a supplier of holographic AR solutions for car manufacturers. WayRay has raised more than $100 million since its inception in 2012. The company aims to become a unicorn with a $1 billion valuation by the end of 2019.
Founded in 2012, WayRay is a holographic AR technology company headquartered in Zurich. In keeping the full R&D process under control — from product concept to prototype testing — WayRay has morphed from a startup into a full-cycle manufacturer of holographic optical systems, hardware, and software. With more than 250 professionals employed globally, WayRay has offices in Switzerland, USA, China, Russia, and is now establishing a factory in Germany.
WayRay’s solutions for the automotive industry include Navion, the first-ever aftermarket holographic AR navigation system; the embedded Holographic AR Display, a built-in solution for carmakers; the True AR SDK for developers to create AR apps for cars; and Element, a gamified car tracker for smarter driving. In the last few years, WayRay has carried out successful projects with a number of car manufacturers.
Porsche first joined forces with WayRay for a pilot project at Startup Autobahn, Europe’s biggest platform for automotive innovation. Now the premium German car manufacturer is leading investment Round C, along with China Merchants Capital, one of the largest Chinese investment companies.
In its transition from startup to scale up, WayRay plans to use the raised funds to establish an affiliate with a pilot production line in Germany. The investments will also help to diversify WayRay’s portfolio of applications in different sectors — from AR in transportation to AR smart glass in the smart home business and construction industry.
WayRay’s holographic AR solutions create a true augmented reality experience, where virtual objects are seamlessly integrated into the world around the car. Compared to the conventional HUDs (head-up displays) available on the market, WayRay’s technology boasts a smaller projection system that can be installed in almost any car model. Its exceedingly wide field of view allows for displaying more virtual objects at a comfortable distance for drivers’ eyes. There are currently no other technologies capable of matching those parameters. Another key competitive advantage of WayRay’s solutions is the customizability for both drivers and passengers, conventional vehicles and self-driving cars, consumers (aftermarket) and businesses (OEMs).
Lutz Meschke, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board and Member of the Executive Board for Finance and IT at Porsche: “The WayRay team has unique expertise with a solid background in space engineering, hardware and software development. Their innovative ideas and products have great potential. We are convinced that on this basis we’ll be able to offer our clients customized Porsche solutions. That is why we have made this strategic investment decision.”
Dr. Youngcho Chi, Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Vice President of Hyundai Motor Group: “WayRay has remarkable expertise in both hardware and software development for holographic AR display systems. The Hyundai–WayRay collaboration will help us establish a brand new eco-system that harnesses AR technology to enhance not only navigation systems but establish an AR platform for smart cities and smart buildings, which are Hyundai Motor Group’s new business interests, in the long term, providing innovative customer experiences to our drivers.”
Vitaly Ponomarev, CEO of WayRay: “As a deep-tech company, we are committed to creating fundamental innovations that bring us far beyond holographic AR displays and new interfaces. A growing number of projects with car makers and strong investors are fueling the company’s growth and boosting our confidence in implementing complex innovations. We are proud to be recognized as a reliable partner able to meet the high standards set by investors like Porsche and Hyundai.”