Robotics company Berkshire Grey to go public via SPAC

As far as fundraising goes, Berkshire Grey is in pretty good shape. When I visited its Massachusetts headquarters last year, following a massive $263 million Series B, the company discussed some pretty aggressive growth plans. Mind you, that was before the pandemic had really touched down in the U.S. in a meaningful way.

If anything, COVID-19 has accelerated interest in automation, as companies look to safeguard themselves from the inevitable effects of future pandemics. Today, Berkshire Gray announced its intention to become the latest tech company to go public by way of SPAC. The deal, which finds it merging with Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp., could value the company at up to $2.7 billion.

In a release tied to the news, BG cites a 5% current warehouse automation figure — a number I’ve heard tossed around a lot in relation to these deals. It certainly points to big potential for growth among retailers looking to streamline fulfillment, logistics and the like. For many, it’s as simple as finding a way to stay competitive with the likes of Amazon, which has massively bolstered its own robotics efforts through acquisitions like Kiva Systems.

BG offers a kind of ground-up solution for close to full automation. The technology separates it from more plug and play automation solutions like Locus and Fetch Robotics. Their offerings are more focused on automating companies faster and more cheaply. BG’s ecosystem includes a variety of different robotics, including picking, gripping and image sensing, with north of 300 patents in the space.

“Consumer expectations have changed, putting more pressure on supply chain operations to get the right goods to the right places at the right times, as efficiently as possible,” CEO Tom Wagner said in a release tied to the news. “Over the last 12 months the pandemic amplified the already high pressure to transform, so today it is no longer a question of if companies might transform but how quickly. We are incredibly excited about this transaction, which will enable Berkshire Grey to accelerate growth and provide new and existing customers with our leading robotics solutions.”

The deal would bring up to $413 million in cash for the company. It says it plans to use the funding to address a backlog of customers and build out an international presence. It’s expected to close in Q2.