James Murdoch bets on drones after leaving the family business

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James Murdoch will have a new tech venture to discuss when he joins the other billionaires milling about at the annual Allen & Co. retreat in Idaho next month.

The younger son of media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who parted ways with the family business after it struck a $US71 billion ($56 billion) deal to sell a swath of assets to Walt Disney this year, has backed the seed round of a Norwegian drone technology company.

James Murdoch is backing new drone technology.

James Murdoch is backing new drone technology.Credit:

UBIQ Aerospace, which refers to itself as a "deep tech startup," announced that it has raised seed financing from Murdoch's Lupa Systems and Norwegian tech accelerator NTNU Accel. The business hopes to introduce new de-icing systems — called D-ICE — that will "transform" unmanned aircraft operations in cold climates.

The company's first product is being targeted as much for commercial use as military use, UBIQ Aerospace Chief Executive Officer Kim Lynge Sorensen said in an interview.


The company expects it may also help unmanned aircraft used for package deliveries and flying taxis, he added.


Terms of the investment weren't disclosed.

"As an investment firm focused on the problems of the future, we're excited to work with UBIQ," Ben FitzGerald, a partner at Lupa Systems, said in a statement.

Before joining Lupa, FitzGerald was executive director for strategy, data and design in the Pentagon's Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.

Sun Valley

Murdoch is expected to be among the attendees at July's annual retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho, where tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and finance-world leaders like Warren Buffett rub shoulders and cogitate over the latest global trends. This is the third investment from the 46-year-old's new fund, which manages the money he acquired through the family's stake in 21st Century Fox.

Trondheim, Norway-based UBIQ plans to introduce its D-ICE product to the unmanned-aviation market early next year. Lupa, which has an office in New York and a presence in Mumbai, made its first investment of $US5 million in comics publisher Artists, Writers and Artisans, the Wall Street Journal reported in April. It also invested in the venture capital firm Human Ventures, according to the Information.



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