The D.C. tech hub grew a ton in 2021, bouncing back from the pandemic with more than $2.4 billion in new capital raised between 10 local companies. Several of these funding rounds also put companies over the billion-dollar valuation mark, securing unicorn status.
Leading last year’s funding raises in the DMV was Ankura followed by Fundraise and Robotic Research. Three companies on the list are tied for fifth place.
Read on to learn more about the local tech startups that pulled in the most funds in 2021.
#10. $125.6 million, December 3
NASA awarded a $125.6 million contract to Falls Church, Virginia-based defense and space technology company North Grumman for the development of a commercial space station. Two other companies — Nanotracks and Blue Origin — also received investment to develop similar plans. Northrop plans to work with Dynetics to deliver a modular station based around its Cygnus spacecraft, according to TechCrunch.
#9. $140.3 million, November 18
Cybersecurity provider Expel raised a $140.3 million Series E funding round in November. The Herndon-based company specializes in managed detection and response (MDR) and is on a mission to make high-quality security accessible to growth-stage businesses. The funding will be invested in product research and development, fueling amplified sales and go-to-market plans, expanding partnerships and accelerating international expansion.
#8. $150 million, September 16
Last September, Rebellion Defense joined the D.C. unicorn club following a $150 million Series B round, bringing its valuation to $1.15 billion. The national security tech company uses AI for military defense, offering comprehensive battlespace awareness, autonomous mission execution and cyber readiness. With Rebellion Defense, military officials are empowered by data on adversaries and threat environments to make better operational decisions.
#5 (tied). $200 million, November 11
Another 2021 D.C. tech unicorn, Dragos raised $200 million in Series D funding, valuing the operational tech cybersecurity company at $1.7 billion. Dragos is focused on industrial cyber threats or those that target industries like power and water utilities, energy and manufacturing, among others. The Dragos platform offers asset visibility, vulnerability management, threat detection, collective defense and investigation capabilities all in one easy-to-navigate portal to keep the utilities we use daily safe from cyber attacks.
#5 (tied). $200 million, November 10
Inspiration Mobility is an electric vehicle solutions startup that launched out of stealth in 2021. Alongside the launch, the company announced it raised $200 million in private equity funding. The company helps businesses electrify existing vehicle fleets and provides financing solutions as well as charging stations. Inspiration will use the funding to accelerate the implementation of electrical vehicles.
#5 (tied). $200 million, April 12 and November 8
Rounding out our three-way tie for fifth is space-based radio frequency (RF) data and analytics provider HawkEye 360. The company had two massive funding rounds in 2021, including a $55 million Series C and a $145 million Series D. The company plans to allocate the funds for building and expanding its satellite constellations to accelerate its growth in the humanitarian, environmental, commercial and national security sectors.
#4. $220 million, March 22 and September 15
Another 2021 D.C. tech unicorn, ID.me raised two massive funding rounds in 2021, totalling $220 million. In March, the digital identity network company’s $100 million Series C round brought its valuation to $1.5 billion. Then in September, ID.me raised another $100 million in debt financing and $20 million in revolving credit. The company provides best-in-class identity verification and authentication products for the public and private sectors.
#3. $228 million, December 9
Hoping to bring commercial autonomous vehicles to scale, Robotic Research raised a $228 million Series A round. The funding will be used to further the innovation and expansion of Robotic Research’s commercial division, RR.AI. This division develops and deploys autonomous and robotic solutions for commercial vehicles, such as buses and different types of transport trucks. This division of Robotic Research integrates its AutoDrive autonomous driving system into commercial vehicles.
#2. $300 million, June 1
The real estate investment platform closed a $300 million credit facility from Goldman Sachs during the summer of 2021. Fundrise allocated those funds to buy more rental properties, according to the Washington Business Journal. With Fundrise, investors can get into real estate with the same ease as buying stocks through online apps. Its low-fee model is meant to make it easier than ever before to invest in real estate.
#1. $710 million, March 22
Back in March, Ankura announced it completed a $710 million debt financing round, making it the highest funding round in the D.C. tech hub in 2021. The consulting firm offers its expertise in a variety of industries from cybersecurity to investment banking to intellectual property.
Funding data are compiled from SEC filings, press releases, confirmed news reports and other public databases. Funding includes venture capital and private equity announced during 2021, but excludes acquisitions.