Glasgow 'counter-drone' start-up aims high after six-figure investment boost

A fledgling Glasgow company developing drones to protect airspace from aerial threat has secured financial backing.

Gibson Robotics, which was only established last year, has gained the backing of Gabriel Investment Syndicate, a Scottish business angel syndicate specialising in funding high-risk business ventures with promising commercial potential.

Gibson’s high-speed drones physically capture other drones in a net after being launched by a catapult and monitored by a human operator.

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Founded by Glasgow-based Joe Gibson, an electronic and electrical engineering graduate from the University of Strathclyde, the start-up will receive a total of £217,000.

Joe Gibson, Lynn Ross and Gill MacAulay. Picture: Martin Shields
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Led by Gabriel, the funding round also includes support from Scottish Enterprise, Strathclyde Inspire: Entrepreneurs Fund (SEIF), the University of Strathclyde’s dedicated early-stage investment fund, and two private investors.

The funding will enable the company to accelerate the development of its products. The Gibson designed drone can also be used for surveillance, such as anti-piracy operations in merchant ship waters.

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The idea for the counter-drone came to Gibson after hundreds of flights were cancelled at Gatwick Airport in 2018 following reports of drone sightings close to the runway. While this was never proven, massive and costly disruption can be caused by drone activity in sensitive areas.

Gibson, originally from Inverclyde, went through the pitching process entirely online, showing off his large model counter-drone sitting on an ironing board in the background during the video calls.

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He said: “This is the first major investment we have had and it’s a real boost to the business at a key point in its development. It will allow the company to expand the team and move forward.

“I realised there was a need for an effective counter-drone four years ago while I was still a student – a flight I took from Gatwick was delayed by a drone. I started to think about how easy it is for a drone to do significant damage with little effort.”

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Gill MacAulay, director at Gabriel Investment Syndicate, said: “We were really impressed with Joe’s concept, not to mention his drive and determination to succeed.

“Gabriel is quite unique in that we don’t only provide financial support, the young companies in which we invest also receive a great deal of mentoring and expertise and experience from our business angels.

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“Our syndicate is adept at enabling fledgling businesses to take their ideas from the drawing board to a physical product, ready to be tested on the market.”

Olga Kozlova, director of innovation and industry engagement at the University of Strathclyde, added: “The university is a hotbed of entrepreneurial talent and Gibson Robotics is prime example of a young company with a potentially exciting future.

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“We are pleased to be working with Gabriel to allow Joe and his team to bring its first product to market. This new round of funding will be used to rapidly progress the technology development of the company’s counter-drone system.”

Typically, Gabriel Investment Syndicate supports businesses looking to deliver new products and enter new markets. The group of private angel investors meet regularly to review new investment opportunities.

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