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Marta Portales

RobotUnion rocked 2019 and is going for more!

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RobotUnion closes this year with the big success of more than 400 applications submitted to our two Open Calls, 1st batch of companies acceleration almost finished and 2nd batch started!  

Our Robotics Heroes: accelerated companies 

It’s been a great year for our 1st batch robotics companies, whstarted their acceleration journey in February 2019. Back in September, we held the Master Training Camp in Madrid (Spain) where they received business training from top robotics experts. We also held our first Venture Jury Day in Paris at the beginning of December where all 1st batch companies pitched in front of investors and the 4 most promising RobotUnion superstars from the brave robotics team were selected to receive additional funding and fundraising mentoring. 

The second batch of startups has just started its acceleration journey. This year they were focused on the selection process which was finished in July with the Second Jury Day in Poland. Afterwards, 20 of them were working on their Feasibility Plans together with RobotUnion consortium. In October, we made a final cut of 10 best companies that have now entered the acceleration program which officially started with the Welcome Camp held in Odense (Denmark).  

Much good news kept coming this 2019, we’re very proud of the development of accelerated companies which achieved incredible milestones. Faromatics and their Chickenboy solution for animal welfare were granted with 1 million euros after a seed round back in May. The scaffolding assembly solution, Kewazo, also raised from the leading German VC over 2 million euros 

On the seaside, Nido robotics and their submarine drones swam across the ocean and opened a new office in ChileOn top of that Rebartek, the prefabricated reinforcement cages solution, and Kewazo were chosen as two of the TOP50 contech startups by Cemex Ventures. Congratulations on their achievements and we’re glad they’re part of the RobotUnion family! 

This year, RobotUnion started the Success Stories cycle where you can all to discover the amazing solutions from our first batch startups, learn about their acceleration journey in RobotUnion and how far they’ve come. Follow our website’s blog and YouTube channel for more! 

Join the robotic’s revolution community! 

Last but not least, we must highlight that this past year our team has attended more than 15 events in 11 different countries of the European Union. Panels and workshops have been organized to bring the world of robotics closer to society, by focusing on the promotion of robotics technology in new markets where robotics is underrepresented (Agrifood, Healthcare, Civil Engineering, Manufacturing).   

Currently, RobotUnion community has more than 1880 followers in our Social Media channels and has achieved 928,7K impressions through them, we definitely rock the robotics world! 

RobotUnion community reached more than 1000 members and is formed by institutions and organizations related to the world of robotics. This year we have opened our Marketplace to the public, where you can showcase your product, service or institution to our Robotics community.  

Explore the Marketplace 

But wait, there’s more! We are currently looking for Business Mentors with a Robotics background, so if you’re an expert in the field you can join our project. We’re also looking for Investors so if you’re interested in robotics solutions download our booklet to get to know our projects. In case you have any further questions regarding companies from our program don’t hesitate to contact us at info@robotunion.eu

We will keep rocking 2020 

Next year will belong to 1st batch companies that will enter with their product to the market, 2nd Batch companies to rock their acceleration program and for RobotUnion consortium to work on sustainable Robotics ecosystem that involves SMEs and startups together with corporates, researchers, acceleration programs, regional authorities, and investors. The aim is to create the best conditions for long-term business success for all involved. 

Have a great new year start and we’re looking forward to rock 2020 with you all! 

Venture Jury Day

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1st Batch RobotUnion Super Stars selected!

After 10 months of intensive acceleration program with Technical and Business mentors, it´s time to select 4 most promising and best-performing companies from the brave robotics team selected from the 1st Open Call.

The RobotUnion Venture Jury Day took place on the 5th of December 2019 in Paris and was organized by Blumorpho who will lead the support to selected companies in raising Private Funds in next few months.

The final selection was made by two main criteria: Technical, which was evaluated by internal RobotUnion experts and the Investors who came to Paris to see (and hear!) the pitch of all 10 companies and advise the RobotUnion consortium which one is the most promising.

 

The event gathered more than 15 investors interested in our 10 finalists (Klaus Kummermehr from Venture Capital – Go Beyond Investing, Daniele Molteni from Chrysalix Venture Capital, François Tison of  360 Capital, Julien Bourcerie Venture Capital at Bouygues Construction among others). All 10 companies had an opportunity to pitch (3 minutes) and answer a short round of questions to the public.

After that, we took the opportunity of this great ecosystem of experts gathered in one place in order to hold a discussion about the current situation of investment in robotics in Europe and the upcoming challenges.

We also had an opportunity to present the 2nd open call winners, who have just started their journey with RobotUnion in October this year. Rebartek and Aether were present at the event to present their companies as well. Well done!

In the meanwhile, in the separate room the RobotUnion partners and two external experts gathered to agree on the final ranking and to perform an additional round of questions with 10 companies.

The competition was tuff and the final results were announced at the end of the event.

We are proud of RobotUnion mission towards gender equality: two out of four selected startup´s CEOs are female! Congratulations Sofie Woge and Ekaterina Grib!

The winners will now enter to the last Stage 4 and receive an additional 100.000€ of equity-free funding.

On top of that, they will get additional mentoring:

  • Private investment opportunities with the support of Blumorpho the VC Chrysalix and Odense Seed & Ventures.
  • Participate in the RobotUnion Investors Day during the Automatica 2020 event.
  • Identify the public funding available.
  • Preparing a proof of concept in real market conditions.
  • Connect you to corporates and in arranging partnership agreements.

Congratulations to all RobotUnion companies involved and to 4 RobotUnion Super Stars!

Tendo: grasp life with Tendo – A robotic glove which increases the function of your grip – made for people, not symptoms (Sweden).

Kewazo: Kewazo offers a smart robotic system that performs flexible, cost-efficient and safe transportation of construction materials on-site (Germany).

Cliin: proactively keep vessel hulls clean from biofouling, saving the shipping industry billions in saved fuel consumption and hull maintenance (Denmark).

Nido Robotics: advanced underwater robots with an unparalleled price-performance ratio, oriented towards commercial applications in inshore waters (Spain).

Venture Jury Day - Paris 5/12/2019

Do robots dream of electric hot dogs? The future of Robotics in the agri-food industry

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Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

By 2050, humans will have to double the current food production in order to feed the growing world’s population and adapt to evolving consumption habits. However, considering how damaging and impactful the agro-industry has been in the past years with respect to climate change as well as soil and water quality, we will have no choice but to find much more efficient as well as sustainable agri-food production methods to feed the close to 10 billion people that will populate Earth in a few decades.

Agri-food is a term that combines the words agriculture and food to relate to all the food production activities. According to Esther Delignat-Lavaud Rodriguez, the term agri-food can be split into two parts: agritech referring to technologies that target farmers and foodtech, technologies targeting manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, and consumers.

According to the European Union (EU), agri-food industries and services provide over 44 million jobs within the EU territory, among which 20 million workers in the agricultural sector itself. As market trends move towards better products, sustainable production, diversification in the offer and new consumption habits, it is estimated that the global food and agriculture industry is worth at least $8 trillion.

With automation in every industry becoming a reality, the agri-food sector could definitely benefit from the current technology breakthroughs to improve its efficiency, especially through robotics.

Indeed, robots are becoming more and more part of every human-related activity including agriculture, livestock farming, and nature conservation industries. Their implementation seeks to improve working conditions, generate higher yields and increase overall product quality.

Here are for instance some farming tasks in which robots could help following a report from the Wageningen University:

  1. assessing the quality and sorting seeds,
  2. assessing the quality and sorting seedling,
  3. assessing quality in the greenhouse,
  4. assessing quality in the field,
  5. precision techniques in the field,
  6. autonomous navigation,
  7. harvesting,
  8. assessing quality and sorting products,
  9. processing products, packing products
  10. and more!

Keen on some concrete examples? Here we go:

  • Hello Chickenboy!

Faromatics is one of the startups accelerated by the RobotUnion programme in the agrifood sector. They focus on bringing high tech to livestock production. How?

By monitoring animals continuously, their aim is to detect needs quickly and reliably. Their technology helps farmers identify welfare issues, oncoming diseases, and equipment failures, as well as assess the living conditions of the animals remotely.

Their product Chickenboy is the world-wide first roof-suspended robot that observes chickens, litter and equipment autonomously 24/7.

The robot monitors air quality, health, and welfare through a multitude of sensors and cameras inspects equipment operation and informs farmers, stock persons or vets via mobile alarms.

  • For tomato go to Automato!

Automato is a company accelerated by the RobotUnion programme and developing a robot that works on greenhouses soils and in high tunnels to harvest tomatoes. Their aim is to get their solution to market and to demonstrate repeatable harvesting quality in order to create a groundbreaking experience for growers.

Fresh tomatoes are the most common vegetable that is grown in greenhouses and are generally manually harvested. Tomato growers have a hard time finding the labour to work in their greenhouses as the work is repetitive and performed in hot and humid conditions. As a consequence, their robot is a great solution for the vegetable harvesting sector.

  • No more back and forward casings!

Proxima Centauri is a company that aims at using its unique technology to reduce costs and improve the quality of the food in the sausage industry. They are also accelerated through the RobotUnion programme.

All sausage factories use intestines, known as natural casings. It’s important that casing diameter is correct  Today, casings from around 200 million pigs from Europe are cleaned, salted, packaged and sent to China to be sorted 100% manually. Around 7.000 people in China measure and sort casing from Europe. In addition, it is worth pointing out that the current process is very expensive.

Their solution SelectiCa3 is a robot designed to automatically pick up, measure and sort casings following the desired diameters. SelectiCa3 is a great way to reduce costs and the final product.

  • Starting the discussion now!

Among the leaders of the ongoing conversation is Jungle, an open-source platform for autonomous production. They coined the “robofacturing” concept, based on the idea of an improved production system in manufacturing. This could be achieved by implementing software-defined manufacturing in an affordable, flexible and quick way.

The past 24th October, Jungle organised in Barcelona  Robofacturing real food for everyone, an event supported by RobotUnion. The discussion revolved around the topic of automated production of food using robotics and software-defined manufacturing that will improve food production processes from farms to forks.


 

The sector needs to recognize that it should be taking new technological steps to increase productivity and meet the demand without damaging the environment. An approach proposed by agrifood experts Phil Webster, Frederik van Oene and Maki Kurosawa in their article The future of Agri-Food. Foresight in the challenges that need to be addressed in the future is essential.

Written by Natalia Cardona Mercado for RobotUnion

Welcome Camp in Odense!

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During the 2nd and 3rd October 2019, RobotUnion has started the second acceleration round with the Welcome Camp event. Representatives of 20 startups , RobotUnion partners and technical mentors were present during these two days at the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) in Odense, Denmark. Companies presented their feasibility plans together with their technological and business challenges to the consortium. Ten startups with the best fit with the RobotUnion program were selected to continue to Stage 2 which includes 12 months of technical mentoring with the Technological Research centers involved in the consortium. On top of that, each startup will receive 120.00 EUR equity-free cash.

In Odense, the competing startups also had the chance to hear the Keynote Speaker Esben Østergaard, founder of REInvest Robotics and co-founder of Universal Robotics. His keynote speech The meaning of collaborative robots shared the insights on how the improvements in the robotics field have transformed the way we work, by developing robots that can be easily be programmed and used. His company opened a new innovative road to integrate robots into everyday activities, making the accomplishment of tasks easier and accessible to people working with them. Changing the paradigm from robots as machines to robots as tools to work with.

Below is the list of the 10 companies that were selected for the second phase of our acceleration program: 

  • Rigitech (Switzerland): Drone delivery to integrate supply chains through hybrid drone hardware and cloud-based logistics.
  • Aether Biomedical (Poland): Zeus is a low cost-high efficacy prosthesis. This bionic limb can multiarticulate 14 grip modes.
  • 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.
  • Rovenso (Switzerland): Agile robots that perform security and safety monitoring of industrial sites.
  • 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.
  • Infocode (Poland): Infocode has created Bin-e, an IoT device that sorts and compress the recyclables automatically.
  • Formhand(Germany): Granulate-based vacuum grippers that can adapt to and handle objects with different shapes.

On top of that, all startups had a chance to get to know the Odense Hub ecosystem and visit some of the successful Robotics companies and talk with them:Inwatec, UAS, and Quadsat.

Selected startups kick off his first face to face meetings with the future technical mentors from VTT, PIAP, Tecnalia, DTI, and TU Delft in order to start planning the next steps for the Research and Product Development phase. 

Watch what went on at the Welcome Camp in our resume video from the day here!

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