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Marta Portales

28 startups, 130 investors and 300 DKK million at the Odense Investor summit

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The Odense Investor Summit, the biggest event in Europe for direct investments in robotics, took place in Denmark on the 26th of June. The summit is bridging the gap between startups/SMEs and investors within robotics, drones and health-tech.  

SmoothRobotics and Tendo accelerated by RobotUnion were present there. Other Startups which previously participated in the RobotUnion Open Calls participated as well. From 1st OC: Accrea, Alias Robotics, Proxima Centauri and from 2nd OC: Rebartek, RoboFit, Robobend. Some of them were selected among 28 companies who were pitching in front of 130 investors (business angels and venture capital funds from Europe, USA and Asia), ready to place millions of euros in to robotic, drone and health-tech ventures.  The Investor Summit, hosted by Investment Manager Michael Hansen, was held in Odense for 4th year in a row – Robotunion partnering for the first time.

Joost Nijhoff, Director at Invest in Odense (partner of RobotUnion), explained during the  Summit the growth of the robotics industry in the City of Odense during the last years. The ambition of the local politicians is nothing less than becoming the world’s leading city for robotics. 

Rob Desborough, director at Seraphim Capital was one of the keynote speakers. Seraphim, a VC specialized in space technologies, presented last year’s investment in Odense-based QuadSAT, a drone-enabled satellite antenna testing company. 

QuadSAT spent a year based at the Odense Robotics StartUp Hub, a world-class robotics incubator which helped QuadSAT, along with many other robotics startups, with securing investors and gaining industry traction.

3 needs that the RobotUnion Marketplace can help you meet

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The best robots in town, your life is about to change forever, make your choice!

Well, that’s more or less in essence what the newly-launched RobotUnion MarketPlace is about.

Granted, selling robots or more precisely robotics-related services is not exactly the same as selling freshly-made hamburgers on the Camden Market (that we do advise you to check out if you ever pass by London). We’re for instance afraid that there won’t be as many bargaining possibilities as with a bunch of bananas. Robots generally have fixed prices and if ever C3-PO is for sale for £1,000, there won’t be any discount.

Nevertheless, the spirit is the same. That is to say that this virtual marketplace is indeed about making various stakeholders in the world of robotics meet and interact so that they can promote and buy each others’ services.

So, in a few lines, why should you join the RobotUnion Marketplace?

1. You want to promote a robotics-related service

Say you travel a lot. And when we say a lot, we mean A LOT. So much that carrying your luggage from the hotel to the metro station, from the check-in counter to Terminal D12 has become a real pain for your shoulder.

Enough is enough and you start thinking of a solution to this problem. We’ll overlook the details but the main idea is that you start a business and finally come up with this…:


Credits: Analytics Insights
This autonomous suitcase named Ovis was showcased during the CES2018

…A robotic suitcase with various sensors and facial recognition that can follow you everywhere!

But here’s the thing. How to produce on a large scale? How to reach a network of travellers?

You post your concept and a picture of your prototype in RobotUnion Marketplace…which draws the attention of a representative of Samsonite one of the biggest luggage manufacturers in the world! She gets in touch with you and…

…Right, we get it, this startup fairy tale would not happen systematically. But you’ve got the idea: the more marketplace members we are, the more business opportunities there will be, whether you are willing to showcase your product or seeking an innovative solution.

2. You need robotics skills

However, needs can be met in other ways.

The robotics field may be gaining pace, related skills are not that widespread.

Say your dairy company is looking for a way to automate yoghurt packaging in your factory. You found that several technologies can enable such a process improvement.

Nevertheless, there is something or more precisely someone missing in the equation: a qualified robotics engineer who understands the technology, is able to implement it, maintain it…and repair it if needed!


Credits: Quora – What is robotics engineering?

Again, we are keen on encouraging matchmaking. This time, the idea is to welcome among our marketplace a number of robotics experts as well as companies eager to bring new skills to its workforce.

3. You can provide some mentoring to RobotUnion community

Are you from a research organisation, the academic community or a private entity and do you work on robotics-related topics? Can you provide useful funding connections to robotics start-ups? Help them build more efficient prototypes? Advise them on a go-to-market strategy?


Mentoring is crucial in fields that are relatively new such as robotics, for instance, in order to determine from a technical perspective what is feasible and what is not

These are some of the questions we have been asking throughout our network to gather a community of mentors within the Marketplace. Whether you are an early-stage robotics company or a more advanced SME in the field, you’ll be able to request some guidance with respect to the concept(s) you are working on.

To wrap it up

If you recognise yourself in one of the situations we described above, go ahead and introduce your product or your needs!

Join the RobotUnion Marketplace!

Robot Union Master Training Camp in Madrid

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The RobotUnion Master Training Camp for the Startups from the 1st Batch is coming! The 5 days of face-to-face intensive training of relevant entrepreneurial topics will help Startups to deal with potential strategic situations related to scaling and growing. It will take place on 9th-13th September in ISDI Campus in Madrid. 

At this 4-day training camp influencing entrepreneurs in robotics will share with us their expertise in internationalisation, marketing, sales, metrics, fundraising, company culture, talent scouting… And of course, a nice reunion always ends up with unforgettable night-outs. All participants will be invited to networking social events where partnership, collaborations, peer learning and camaraderie are fostered and reinforced. 

More detailed agenda with keynote speaker, teachers and experts will come out very soon.

Stay tuned! 

It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane, It’s a Drone!

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Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Drones, also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), are robots that can fly controlled or autonomously through software flight plans with the help of sensors or/and GPS. They’ve seen a huge rise given the conditions we’ve developed technologically and became very popular in the last years because they can complete tasks that used to be performed by helicopters and airplanes. 

These tasks used to be expensive to hire and they were not always available on-demand. Drones came up to the scene presenting themselves as a good solution for a variety of challenges. They can be equipped with distant sensors, time-of-flight sensors, chemical sensors, stabilization and orientation sensors, visualization sensors, and the list just goes on. Other common features of drones are accelerometers, barometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and GPS. 

According to The Drone Market Report, this industry will grow to $43 Billion USD by 2024. If you follow the UAV world you’ll notice that every day some new use comes up and they’re certainly disrupting the robotics market. From agriculture uses to surveillance, healthcare, construction, films, journalism and more, here are some of the best use cases of Drones.  

  • More efficient pesticide spraying 

The agricultural industry has faced many challenges over the last few years, from climate change to automatization, technology will drive the farming revolution for the future. The use of agricultural drones will allow users to gain insights in data from crops and plan accordingly to meet the demands of an ever-changing world.

A very good example of drones working to make agricultural work more productive is the DJI MG-1P Drone, made for spraying crop fields. The aircraft increases work efficiency and have the ability to pre-plan routes and control up to five of them at the same time, with a range of 3 kilometers. It also comes with an FPV camera to improve security, eight rotors with advanced propulsion and control algorithms to ensure safety -even if one rotor breaks-, and a high precision radar for positioning and navigation. 

  • Healthcare from a distance 

In the case of healthcare, drones can support the rapid and efficient delivery of vaccines, medication supplies, support, rescue and decrease the mortality of life-threatening communicable diseases. With the support of this technology, the medical field can improve its communications and mobile technology. It can reach dangerous areas where human access is compromised. 

At TU-Delft the Ambulance Drone project is looking to tackle the first critical minutes of life-threatening diseases by speeding the time of response, the technology embedded in the drone includes an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), medication and CPR. It also includes personalized instructions for people at the place where the emergency is presented, making it easier to extend the reach for the cases. 

  • Building inspections made easy 

For construction and civil engineering, drones can be used as tools to improve communication and safety at the field. As drones capture real-time images from the construction sites, the UAV can be used to track progress, monitor security patrols, improve technical inspection, deliver key items, among other uses. The use of sensors and cameras improve and contributes to developing the projects in less time and with less human labor. 

The AEROARMS project aimed to develop the first aerial robotics system with multiple arms and advanced manipulation capabilities applied in industrial inspection and maintenance.  “It uses ultrasonic sensors for characterizing cracks on concrete bridges, a different type of ultrasonic transducer for thickness and corrosion measurements of metallic materials, and eddy current sensors for crack detection”. 

  • Improving manufacturing and supply chains

By improving their features, drones have become more specialized and sophisticated since their prime days, these developments allow to reduce costs in their manufacturing, therefore, making them easier to access by users. In the manufacturing industry drones can be used for all sorts of activities, from the discovery of source materials to handling and transporting products inside and outside the factory. They can also be used for inspection and monitoring depending on the features of the craft or could be used to perform dangerous or difficult tasks thus improving plant safety. 

Flirtey is the startup that got the first license for drone delivery in the United States, beating Amazon and Google. As they state in the website “Flirtey helps businesses to unlock new markets, drive sales, pioneer instant delivery, and replace a costly and cumbersome logistics network”. Making them a good example of a drone used to improve efficiency in a supply chain. 

  • And as a bonus: A drone programmed for painting 

A team of McGill Computer Science researchers published in an article called Stippling with Aerial Robot, the researchers created prints using a quadrotor flying robot. Using motion capture to measure the position of the drone and the canvas and then using programming algorithms to put in contact an inked-soaked sponge attached to the robot. 

There’s no creative limit for the amazing things we can do with drones, the mentioned examples are just some of the initiatives looking to disrupt and innovate the market of UAVs. Who knows what the future will bring us with drones? Probably, a great Amazon deal. 

 

Written by Natalia Cardona Mercado for RobotUnion

RobotUnion selects the 20 best European robotics startups

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  • 44 startups which were invited to the RobotUnion 2nd Jury Day were selected from 206 applications from 33 countries which applied to the 2nd RobotUnion Open Call. The best startups came to Warsaw to present their ideas and compete for up to €223,000 in equity-free funding, alongside acceleration and mentoring services.
  • RobotUnion offers a total of 4M€ in equity-free funding in two open calls for startups and SMEs within the framework of the Horizon 2020 program funded by the European Commission.
  • Selected startups are advancing the digitalization of European industry in the areas of health, manufacturing, agriculture, civil engineering and open disruptive innovation.

RobotUnion, the first pan-European acceleration program fully focused on robotics, has announced the names of the 20 startups of the second open call who will enter this unique acceleration program. The Jury Day winners were selected among 44 startups and SMEs who pitched 4 times in front of a different panel of experts. The event took place in Warsaw on July 3rd at the headquarters of PIAP, who is one of the partners providing technical mentoring for accelerated startups.

The Jury was composed of experienced technical experts, representatives of venture capital and members of large corporations from the RobotUnion consortium: Fundingbox (PL) as the coordinator of the program; ISDI (ES) responsible for business mentoring; ODENSE Seed and Venture (DK), Blumorpho (FR), Chrysalix Venture Capital (CA) in charge of the  fundraising mentors, technical support and access to “premier-class” technology provided by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (FI), Danish Technological Institute – DTI (DK), TU Delft (NL), Tecnalia (ES) and PIAP (PL); direct access to top industry leaders is facilitated by MADE (DK), Ferrovial Servicios (ES), Fenin (ES), and Mobile World Capital Barcelona (ES) as the dissemination partner. Additionally, independent external advisors were invited in order to help the Consortium in the final decision.

Below is the list of 20 startups and SMEs that were selected to enter the acceleration program of RobotUnion’s second call:

  • Rigitech (Switzerland): Drone delivery to integrate supply chains through hybrid drone hardware and cloud-based logistics.
  • IM Systems (Netherlands): Archimedes drive is a planetary transmission that uses friction instead of gear teeth to transmit torque.
  • Aether Biomedical (Poland): Zeus is a low cost-high efficacy prosthesis. This bionic limb can multiarticulate 14 grip modes.
  • BLITAB (Austria): Blitab is the first-ever Braille tablet to create tactile text and graphics in real-time.
  • MX3D (Netherlands): Software development for large scale Robotic 3D metal printing.
  • Rebartek (Norway): Standardized robotic cell to assemble reinforcement bar (rebar) pieces into rebar cages. 
  • Robotical (United Kingdom): Marty the Robot is a real robot that can be used to teach about robotics and STEM.
  • Rovenso (Switzerland): Agile robots that perform security and safety monitoring of industrial sites.
  • Scaled Robotics (Spain): Deploys robots capable of navigating construction sites autonomously to collect 3D maps and upload them to an AI-powered software platform for analysis.
  • Axiles Bionics (Belgium): AMP-Foot is a prosthetic ankle-foot prosthesis capable of bringing back a natural gait and posture during daily life activities, being flexible and highly responsive to the person’s intention and to the environment.
  • Automato Robotics (Israel): Robot development that works in soil/greenhouses/high tunnels to detect ripe tomatoes and harvests them.
  • Cyber Surgery (Spain): Robotic assistant for spine surgery.
  • Proxima Centauri (Denmark): Automation of the picking and sorting of natural casings.
  • Kinfinity (Germany): The Kinfinity Glove is a new generation of multi-modal input device for use in virtual reality applications, robotics, gaming and more.
  • LuxAI (Luxembourg): An expressive and engaging robot designed for autism.
  • INTSITE (Israel): Autonomous and connected tower cranes.
  • Moi Composites (Italy): Manufacturing of objects as one-off parts or small series combining our proprietary process with other additive manufacturing technologies or traditional manufacturing processes.
  • Life Science Robotics (Denmark): ROBERT is a rehabilitation robot focusing on active resistive and assistive mobilization of the lower extremities.
  • Subsea Mechatronics (Spain): Agile design and fabrication of prototypes involving mechanics, electronics and software, finding solutions within time and cost requirements to meet the specifications.
  • Formhand (Germany): Granulate-based vacuum grippers that can adapt to and handle objects with different shapes. 

Each selected company will be eligible to receive up to €223,000 in equity-free funding upon reaching the milestones of the programme. 10 startups will also receive access to technical support from European robotics experts and business acceleration services. The best-performing companies participating in the program may obtain an additional €1 million of private investment in funding rounds led by Blumorpho and supported by Odense Seed and Venture and the VCs Chrysalix Venture Capital.

During the Jury Day, startups heard presentations from world-class experts invited to share their knowledge. The first was given by Guido Boehm, senior business developer from Dematic shared some tips he has picked up over the years in his talk Ten rules for making corporate partnerships with startups work. Guido mentioned the importance of staying focused on the development of a useful product, the advantages of partnerships with corporations and how to overcome problems while building a startup. 

The second speaker was Andrzej Garbacki, expert in industry 4.0 and Member of the Board and Solutions Department Coordinator, who explained the importance of introducing technology to industries to facilitate production processes. Startups who attended the event discovered how the automation process affects industrial plants. Mr. Garbacki shared several success stories of these processes through the Polish company Astor, which proposes solutions to adapt the traditional industry to a new operational structure based on human-machine cooperation.

The program: from research to the set up 

The 20 startups and SMEs selected in the second open call launched by RobotUnion will initiate an acceleration process that will have a duration of up to 14 months. After Jury Day, the acceleration process will begin with the 2-month feasibility phase when startups will define a plan which will specify technical and market potential of their robotics solutions. This plan will be presented during the Welcome Camp that will take place in Odense on October 2nd and 3rd 2019. In addition to equity-free funding, the companies will receive extensive technical and technological support provided by leading robotics R&D institutes in Europe.

They also will have access to ISDI’s international network of recognized mentors from Google, Airbnb, Ikea, Yahoo, Prisa and Microsoft, among others. It builds on the expertise of the IMPACT Accelerator, which invested over €20 million equity-free funding between 2014 to 2018. IMPACT has been named among the top ten seed accelerators in the world and the second best in Europe by Gust’s Global Accelerator Report.

The entrepreneurs will also have direct contact with leaders of agri-food, healthcare, civil engineering, and manufacturing sector through the participation of organizations including MADE, Ferrovial Servicios, ARLA Foods and FENIN.

RobotUnion will further boost the visibility of startups and SMEs in the robotics sector taking part in top international events such as 4YFN at MWC Barcelona, DLD Innovation festival, Automatica Munich and Slush.

About RobotUnion

  • RobotUnion is designed to increase the number of unicorns in Europe in leveraging on European uniqueness and expertise in robotics related fields by implementing an ambitious programme which consists of:
  • State-of-the-art technical support and access to “premier-class” technology provided by top research and technology organizations like VTT, DTI, TU Delft, TECNALIA, and PIAP.
  • World-class training and high-level business mentoring by a pool of tier 1 mentors from Google, Airbnb, Ikea, Yahoo, Prisa, Microsoft, among others, provided by ISDI.
  • Internationalization services. Presence in top EU scaleup events such as 4YFN at MWC (Mobile World Congress), Slush, Web Summit and International PR exposure powered by Mobile World Capital.
  • Fundraising services provided by Blumorpho (private funding) and FundingBox (public funding).
  • Engagement with world top industry leaders such as MADE representing world manufacturing leaders like Danfoss, Grundfos or Vestas among others. ARLA in agri-food; FENIN in healthcare and FERROVIAL in civil infrastructure.

RobotUnion will invest €4 million in 40 companies during 2 open calls from 2018 to 2020. In each open call, we will select 20 companies and will invest €2million.

 
Jury Day - 2nd open call

Tech-Synergy: The colliding world of Robotics and Augmented Reality

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With the countless changes we’ve seen in the last years in technology it’s not hard to imagine how all these innovations support and collaborate with each other in order to develop a more efficient way of working. The robotics industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and merging with 5G, IoT, AI, and Mixed Reality to make state-of-the-art responsive machines. 

We expect to see Robotics and Augmented Reality (AR) mixing together to create a world with amazing possibilities in the near future, as the commercial and industrial use of AR – the inclusion of computer-generated content in real-world environments- expands by big tech companies such as Facebook, Appleand Google investing in it. Some of the projects featured in this article relate to the subjects of learning to use robots through AR, manipulate the behavior of robots, and help the robots understand their surroundings. 

An example of the collaborative work these technologies can perform is a disrupting project by graduates of Technology Monterrey (ITESM), an exoskeleton that works with artificial intelligence and is made up of several independent parts to rehabilitate specific body parts as joints through Augmented Reality. This device acquires motion with brain or muscle signals and measures simultaneously translated by the apparatus noninvasively.

Showing up next we would like to bring you a word about the latest articles on this topic, that sum up the different possibilities of synergy work between Robotics and AR:

Understanding of surroundings

Robotics and AR meet on their capability of understanding their surroundings, in the article Augmented Reality Robotics published by Ryan Hickman, we can see that a fundamental part of the work and advances on the field could be advantageous for both technologies. As machines and 3D objects gather a better understanding of their environment more options are open to using them in our daily lives as trustworthy aides. 

Becoming better coworkers

AR is gaining space by improving accuracy and productivity as the overlaid information help workers identify items while having their hands free to perform other tasks, and the importance of the Robotics development for the industry is undeniable at this point. 

In Augmented Reality Makes Robots Better Coworkers we can understand how Robots and humans could benefit from the consolidation of the two technologies. The importance of a better understanding and communication between machines and humans is increasing as robots are now co-workers that interact and share our spaces every day. 

Communicating Robot Motion Intent with Augmented Reality is a paper published by researchers at the University of Colorado exploring how using Augmented Reality can make humans and robots feel safer, more efficient and part of a collaborative team, instead of just two isolated parts of a whole. 

Key to the future

Augmented Reality has a huge potential and using it to improve our relationship with robots and our understanding of this new world dynamics could lead to a better way of working together towards a better future in both fields. 

Written by Natalia Cardona Mercado for RobotUnion

RobotUnion Jury Day: 44 best robotics startups in one place

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The RobotUnion Jury Day is just around the corner and we’re very excited to meet the 44 robotics startups selected from the 206 submitted applications from the second open call. This time the one-day session will be hosted by one of the Research and Technology Centers: Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements PIAP in Warsaw (Poland).

The Jury consists of experienced experts, representatives of Venture Capital and of large Corporations. The jurors are appointed by each of the RobotUnion partners: Fundingbox (PL), VTT (FI), DTI (DK), TU DELFT (NL), Tecnalia (ES), PIAP (PL), ISDI (ES), Blumorpho (FR), Mobile World Capital (ES), MADE (DK), Ferrovial Servicios (ES), FENIN (ES), Odense Seed and Venture (DK) and Chrysalix (CA). There will be also one external expert per Jury room to deliver valuable insight into their specific area. Besides pitching to the jurors in the room could be other members of RobotUnion and invited guests.

After the exhausting morning pitching sessions Guido Böhm, Senior Manager Business Development from DEMATIC will share with us his knowledge in a first Keynote session. Thanks to his broad experience in finding new markets, business options and generating cooperation on his field he will be able to tell us about Ten rules for making corporate partnerships with startups work.

In the middle of the day, 28 winners will be selected to pitch two times more in front of the Jury. That final round will allow the RobotUnion consortium to choose the top 20 startups who will enter to the Feasibility Phase.

When all the pitches are over, we’ll move on to our second Keynote speaker Andrzej Garbacki, Member of the Board and Solutions Department Coordinator from Astor Robotics who will share with us various case studies of robotics technology applied to the Industry 4.0.

After that, the 20 winners will be announced and we will finish the day with a networking Grill and Beers outside.

Robots and Music: How robotics is changing the musical landscape

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The science of robotics has brought us incredible changes through all kinds of areas, from industry to business, going through the medical sector and beyond. Robots are now part of our daily lives whether big or small. They are capable of performing quick, accurate and steady tasks, making them the perfect tool for humans to work within a wide range of situations.

But, what about the creative field? The arts have always been considered inherently human, they are the way our civilization has expressed emotions, hopes, and concerns. So, when it comes to the music -the fine art described in Billy Joel words as an explosive expression of humanity- what can we expect from robots.  

You may think that artificial intelligence or robots are just dabbling into the art field but it was the father of computing, Alan Turing, the first person to ever record a computer-generated tune.

As we find ourselves immersed in a digital world we encounter numerous initiatives trying to close the gap between humans and machines. In the music industry, there has been a lot of progress trying to reach a synergic interaction between robots and us.

  • Meet The Trons, a self-playing robot band created in 2008 by Greg Locke. Originally from New Zealand, this fruit-picking machine designer turned mechanical leftover and old instruments into the band. Some of the tracks played by the group include the songs Sister Robot and The Trons Theme.

  • Another great example of a robot band is Compressorhead a rock band created in 2013 by  Frank Barnes a British artist based in Berlin. The group is composed of six robots that play the instruments and only can play rock songs. Their first album Party Machine was released in 2017.

  • The same year the project Flow Machines, a Paris-based experimentation lab, gave us the song “Daddy’s Car” (FlowComposer) a melody created by an Artificial Intelligence after analyzing a database of over 13,000 tunes.

Even though there’s still a long way to go between humans and robots these initiatives shows us the incredible lengths we can go to create amazing pieces of music with a helping -robotic- hand. 

By Natalia Cardona Mercado for RobotUnion

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