Robotex 2018 will gather startups and tech leaders in the field of robotics

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From November 30 to December 2, Tallinn will be home to Robotex International 2018, on of RobotUnion’s community partners and one of the biggest robotics festival, gathering more than 30 000 attendees from all around the world.

The Robotex International Conference is one of the must-attend events in the program for everyone who wants to stay up to date with the latest tech trends. The conference will bring together 50+ top executives and influential players of frontier tech and is going to focus on how the future technologies will transform our businesses and everyday lives. These world-renowned thought leaders will tackle topics that are intriguing and relevant to the rapid changes and dramatic developments on the tech scene. So make sure to join the conversation!

The event will bring into the spotlight themes such as AI, machine learning, data science, robots, cybersecurity, Industry 4.0, logistics, space technologies, STEAM education, and many more. Various panel discussions and workshops on robotics, technology and entrepreneurship have also been planned, so there will be plenty of activities for everybody.

95% of the speakers come from outside of Estonia. Among the line-up, you’ll be able to hear:

  • Cassie Kozyrkov (USA), Chief Decision Scientist at Google Cloud who works to democratize statistical thinking and machine learning. Cassie will deliver the opening keynote “Why Do Businesses Fail At Machine Learning?” and run a workshop “Executive Briefing: Most Data-Driven Cultures… Aren’t” on building data-driven cultures in global organizations.
  • David Delgado (USA), Visual Strategist with The Studio at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and one of the creators of the Museum of Awe, a project that blends art, science, theatre, food, and surprise mixing the visual with the informative. David will be giving a speech on “Imagination, Desire and the Call of the Future”.
  • Peter Vesterbacka (Finland), the Co-Founder and Brand Breaker of Lightneer, a game studio that strives to achieve positive social impact through fun and innovative mobile games. Peter was also the Mighty Eagle at Angry Birds for many years and was named one of the 100 most influential people on the planet by Time Magazine in 2011.
  • Taizo Son (Japan), a serial entrepreneur and investor who founded Mistletoe, a hub for startups that specifically provides learning opportunities for entrepreneurs and facilitates startup communities. Taizo has also started VIVITA, the seed accelerator for kids. He will be speaking on “Updating Education for the Future”, as well as leading a discussion “How to Educate the Next 50000 Entrepreneurs.”

The list of speakers and topics is growing by the day, so make sure to keep an eye out for the agenda in Twitter and Facebook.


Robotex International (November 30 — December 2) Thousands of engineers, executives, students, and families come together to be inspired by industry leaders, build robots for various challenges and learn about the latest technology innovations. More information on how to attend here:

Press release: Sander Gansen

The Welcome Camp took place in Yes!Delft

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During the 14th and 15th of November RobotUnion starts the first acceleration round with the presence of 20 startups and around 40 partners and mentors. The kick-off was hosted by RoboValley at Yes!Delft, the second best incubator in the world, ranked by UBI.

During the first day the 20 startups were introduced on the methodology that the acceleration programme will follow and after a keynote session with Professor Martjin Wisse from TU Delft, who presented the Rosin Project. In the evening they had a pitching round in front of all partners and mentors.

During the second day, the startups had meetings with their technical and business mentors. After the closing, the steering committee and the mentors had an internal meeting. If you want to know went on, download the programme to get a peek.

Check the excitement of these days at some of the best tweets!






Check how the full programme looks like!

How will robotics affect the European economy?

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Astonishing technological advances in the field of robotics and Artificial Intelligence are being reported every day. According to the International Federation of Robotics, last year, global sales of industrial robots reached the new record of 387,000. This means an amazing increase of 31% compared to 2016. Also, according to Loup Ventures research, the industrial robotics market is expected to grow by 175% over the next decade.

It is well-known that robots will be one of the key drivers of economic growth in the next decades. Therefore, we are in a long-term race where all the countries and firms are competing to be in the first position.

Many sectors, such as health care, agriculture, manufacturing, agri-food, or military; will benefit from these technologies in multiple ways and these innovations will help firms or countries to have a big potential. It is true that some people are concerned about this development and automation, often robotics are associated with job substitution. There is a general fear among the population, people think that they could lose their jobs and be replaced by robots or machines. Check this TED Talk “Will automation take away all our jobs?” from David Autor.

These concerns are understandable, but the debate should not focus on this approach, whereas the question should be what Europe could do with a full development of Robotics and AI, and this is what during the next years we will try to discover at RobotUnion.

Automation and digitalization of manufacturing or other sectors, will not lead to unemployment. Costs of production will be lower and it will benefit both firms, employees and clients, apart from removing incentives to relocate factories to other regions. Also, with all these changes, new jobs will arise and with better working conditions.

As stated in eu ROBOTICS, a paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes that every robot introduced between 1990 and 2007 coincided with the elimination of 6.2 jobs within the commute area and a slight drop in wages. The International Federation of Robotics however found that from 2010 to 2015, the US industry installed around 135,000 new industrial robots, mainly in the car industry. During this same period, the number of employees in the automotive sector increased by 230,000.

So the answer to the question, do robots create or destroy jobs? It is really difficult. Certain professions may disappear in a local community, while the overall number of jobs may increase globally. In any case, the nature of work will most likely change.

As reported by the 2017 World Robot Statistics, issued by the IFR, we can see that Asia, Europe, and the United States are leading the revolution of robotics in the world. However, there is a large difference between the Republic of Korea and the other countries, considering that the world average of installed industrial robots per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry in 2016 was of 74.

The progress of robotics is inevitable, so, the point of view of Europe should be how to use these improvements to take full advantage of the opportunities presented. Furthermore, being able to compete with the US and Asia at the same level, because it is clear that robotics will help the economic growth and will give plenty of opportunities to take advantage of, and to improve people live later with the regulation of governments.

Author: Marc Torre Montagut

RobotUnion announces the 20 startups selected to enter the acceleration programme

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  • Each of the winners, selected among 204 applications from 32 countries, will receive up to €223,000 in equity-free funding, alongside acceleration and mentoring services.
  • RobotUnion is offering a total of 8M€ in equity-free funding in two open calls for startups and SMEs within the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme by the European Commission.
  • These startups are changing the digitalisation of the European Industry in the areas of health, manufacturing, agriculture, civil engineering and open disruptive innovation verticals.

RobotUnion, the first pan-European acceleration programme fully focused on robotics, has announced the names of the 20 startups entering the first acceleration services. The project led by FundingBox and backed by leading accelerators, venture capital entities and RTOs selected the winners within a Jury Day where 44 startups and SMEs pitched in front of a panel of experts during September 13-14th at Tecnalia’s headquarters in San Sebastian (Spain).

The jury was composed by the coordinator of the program (FundingBox), business mentors (ISDI), fundraising mentors (ODENSE Seed and Venture, Blumorpho, Chrysalix Venture Capital), technical coaching providers (Robo Valley, Tu Delft, VTT, MADE), big corporations (Fenin, Ferrovial Servicios, Cluster Empresarial Valle del Ebro Food+i) and technology and innovation centres (Tecnalia, Danish Technological Institute and Mobile World Capital Barcelona).

Ultimately, 20 startups and SMEs were selected to enter the acceleration programme of RobotUnion’s first call:

  • BotsAndUs Ltd: Customer service and operations robotics and AI (UK)
  • Smooth Robotics ApS: SmoothTool helps to avoid any kind of complicated programming of the welding robot – only intuitive learning (Denmark)
  • Springa: Goliath CNC is the first portable and autonomous robotic tool that disrupts the way of makers, artisans and professionals work flat surfaces (Italy)
  • InteSpring: The smallest and most lightweight industrial Leg Exoskeleton in the world that can support high loads. (Netherlands)
  • Neurodigital Technologies SL: Touch & Feel VR (Spain)
  • Alias Robotics S.L.: A bio-inspired cybersecurity solution for robots (Spain)
  • Aivero AS: Empowering industrial robots with cloud computing of 3d video (Norway)
  • Fizyr B.V.: Deep learning for vision-guided robotics (Netherlands)
  • Tendo: Grasp life with Tendo – A robotic glove which increases the function of your grip – made for people, not symptoms. (Denmark)
  • Cyber Surgery: Robotic Assistant for Spine Surgery (Spain)
  • QuizIT sp.z.o.o: Robotic hospital pharmacy which reduces medication error by 99% and eliminates medication theft. (Poland)
  • ACCREA Bartlomiej Stanczyk: Remote Medical Diagnostician – a remotely controlled robot performing real-time medical ultrasonographic examinations (Poland)
  • I-Gripper: a smart gripper for automated sample handling in the laboratory (Germany)
  • Future Sense S.L.: Robotic solution for autonomous treatment of musculoskeletal pathologies. (Spain)
  • LuxAI S.A.: QTrobot is a scientifically validated and globally scalable solution for huge economical and societal challenges of autism. (Luxembourg)
  • Eliport Robotics S.L.: Autonomous ground-based delivery robots (Spain)
  • Cliin ApS: Proactively keep vessel hulls clean from biofouling, saving the shipping industry billions in saved fuel consumption and hull maintenance (Denmark)
  • KEWAZO GmbH: KEWAZO offers a smart robotic system that performs flexible, cost-efficient and safe transportation of construction materials on-site. (Germany)
  • Farm Robotics and Automation SL: Robot that balances animal welfare with farm productivity by monitoring chickens using sensors and AI. (Spain)
  • Proxima Centauri IVS: Sustainable sausages from automated natural casings Selection and Calibration processing (Denmark)

Each selected company will receive up to €223,000 equity-free for its initial funding stage as well as access to technological support from European robotics experts and business acceleration services. The best-performing companies participating in the programme may obtain an additional €1 million of private investment in funding rounds lead by the VCs Chrysalix Venture Capital and Odense Seed and Venture, with the support of Blumorpho.


The programme: from research to setting up

The 20 startups and SMEs selected in the first open call launched by RobotUnion will initiate an acceleration process of 2 to 14 months. For the first time, the participants will be accompanied from their research phase all the way through setting up the business.

After the Jury Day, the acceleration process will begin with the feasibility study and the 20 participants will enter different research and product development stages, where in addition to equity-free funding, the companies will receive extensive technical and technological support provided by the leading institutes in robotics R&D in Europe: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Danish Technological Institute, TU Delft, Tecnalia and PIAP. The participants will also receive business acceleration, led by digital business school ISDI.

The startups selected will take part in a rigorous and personalised training programme. A special voucher scheme will be initiated by project coordinator FundingBox, giving accelerated companies access to a range of service providers via a one-of-a-kind marketplace fully dedicated to supporting robotics companies. They also will have access to ISDI’s international network of recognised mentors from Google, Airbnb, Ikea, Yahoo, Prisa and Microsoft, among others. It builds on the legacy and 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 number two 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 organisations 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, Automatica Munich, Slush and Web Summit.


About RobotUnion:

RobotUnion will open the second call of the acceleration programme at the beginning of 2019. The project will select again 20 startups that will be financed with up to €223,000 equity free in cash plus acceleration services. The 20 startups selected will receive €3,800 each in cash equity free and services in the first phase. The 10 best of these startups will enter in the product acceleration program and will receive up to €120,000 in cash equity free. Finally, the 4 best startups will receive up to €100,000, so in total they can receive up to €223,000 equity free in cash plus services.

The four best startups will also have the possibility to be privately funded with around €1M with the help of Blumorpho, Odense Seed and Venture and Chrysalix Venture Capital that are part of RobotUnion consortium.

Selected companies would be able to participate in a 14 months online Premium Acceleration Service, led by top Research and Technology Organizations from all over Europe, key world-class digital ecosystem professionals and entrepreneurs.

3 videos to learn and get inspired by soft robots

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What are soft robots? They are robots that are composed primarily of deformable materials such as gels or soft polymers. Sometimes they have a rigid skeleton, but other times the whole instrument is made out of soft elements. Rob Scharff in his Master Thesis at the Delft University of Technology explores deeply what they are and describes the different types of soft robots thoroughly (p.7-9).

In this post, we want to present to you some of the videos that have amazed us the most and also helped us understand how the use of soft materials in the production of robotics can make a difference in verticals such as help, since they can operate on soft tissues, without damaging them! Most of the robots that you will see in the following videos have been inspired by nature, understand how they work and get inspired by them!

  • Ted Talk “The incredible potential of flexible, soft robots” by Giada Gerboni

  • A soft robot that moves by finding the light and mimicking the plant:

  • As seen, often soft robots mimic nature, this is also the case of this snake made by Harvard researchers:

And also, this octopus that it’s the first completly soft robot that is composed by a microfluidic chip


RobotUnion will be present at DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival 2018

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RobotUnion will join the Mobile World Capital Barcelona team at DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival during the 4-6 September 2018. A selection of startups from the European Projects IMPACT Connected Car and IMPACT Growth will get introduced into the digital ecosystem and given the opportunity to connect with investors and corporations.

What is going to happen at DLD Tel Aviv? 

  • September 4th 2018: Join us in Tel Aviv and discover equity free funding while enjoying a drink! Sign up now! The event will take place at the Manufacturers Association 5’ from Hatachana

September 5-6th 2018: Find about funding opportunities and meet accelerated startups! You will find us at booth 31 in the Startup Blvd.


Meet the startups accelerated by the European projects:

  1. Absolute Zero: Delivers outstanding technologies for a new breed of 360° content producers. Their mission is to help customers focus on creativity and the production of 360ºcontent. Transforms complex technology into simple solutions and create easy-to-use devices for 360° photography/filming and imaging.
  2. Argus: Provides comprehensive and proven solution suites to protect connected cars and commercial vehicles against cyber-attacks. With decades of experience in both cybersecurity and the automotive industry, Argus offers innovative security methods and proven computer networking know-how with a deep understanding of automotive best practices. Customers include car manufacturers, their Tier 1 suppliers, fleet operators and aftermarket connectivity providers.
  3. Artudata: Software that increases revenues by leveraging artificial intelligence to target highly converting customers, boosts efficiency and ROI while reducing the cost per acquisition. Their speciality is products and services with high price tags, like financial services: loans, investments, trading and insurance, real estate, luxury products, Mobility and more. Their technology provides simple to use tools to increase profitability by reducing CPA and increasing conversion rates and clients value.
  4. CARFIT: AI-based technology that reads car vibration to make maintenance easier and mobility safer.
  5. HEVO: Global wireless charging standard for electric vehicles (EV), an end-to-end solution that provides a safe, affordable, reliable, and seamless method of EV charging. Ultimately, HEVO’s wireless charging hardware connects users to their vehicles via mobile software, such that charging an EV is as easy as tapping a screen.
  6. Motor Ai: Offers mobility digital services for end consumers, the car manufacturing industry and public transportation systems. The Motor Ai device unlocks the opportunity to collect mobility data and develop services to support both B2C and B2B applications.
  7. Parkbob: App that warns you when you park in a restricted area and shows available parking spots nearby. Parkbob digitizes the last-mile: digital street parking rules & restrictions, covering 45 cities in EU/North America, 70 EOY18; and data science-based parking information that helps drivers to take better decisions. This is offered as an API service to companies who wish to enhance their existing last-mile experience, e.g. OEMs, Tier 1s, navigation service providers, mobility providers as well as parking payment providers.
  8. Skyx: Agricultural-robotics technology company enabling a modular swarm of autonomous drones for spraying. The innovative solution enables variable rate application at hotspots, or uniform coverage of an entire farmland. They serve agri-spraying applicators that require new standards for their cost, accuracy, availability and safety.



Download the deck of the projects + startups at DLD



RobotUnion closes its first call with 204 submissions from 32 countries

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  • 20 applicants will receive acceleration services and will be financed with up to €223,000 in equity free cash.
  • The robotic solutions participating in RobotUnion will take part in the digitalisation of the European Industry, as part of the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme and the Digital Single Market of the European Commission.
  • The area of manufacturing has attracted most of the applications, followed by open disruptive innovation, healthcare, agri-food and civil engineering.

RobotUnion is the first remote European acceleration programme entirely focused on robotics startups and SMEs, which counts on funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework. The first call of this programme closed this month with 204 application submissions from 32 countries. The highest concentration of participants was in Spain (18%), followed by Denmark (11%), Germany (9%), The Netherlands (7%), UK (7%), Poland (7%) and Italy (5%).

The EC started to focus their policy-making on the digitalisation of the European Industry, driven by different technological innovations in areas such as IoT, robotics, cloud computing and big data, among others. The revenue of digitalisation services in Europe is estimated to reach €110 billion in Europe annually, according to the EC.

This project aims to respond to societal and industrial needs in the landscape of technological solutions for 5 verticals: agri-food, healthcare, manufacturing, civil engineering, and open disruptive innovation. The last category is for applicant innovations that go beyond the proposed fields.

At the forefront of the applications are automated drones and other UAVs, as well as agribots for crop protection and automation for smart farming and agriculture. Social robots and exoskeleton solutions trend in the healthcare vertical. Some of the proposed solutions for manufacturing are robotic arms, grips and accessories, as well as transport and delivery of items. Submission examples for civil engineering are assistants for the construction of buildings or city monitoring through automation for aerial vehicles. Software solutions for the programming and repairing of robots and robots for exploration can be found as open disruptive innovations.

The technologies used by these startups and SMEs focus primarily on systems development as well as on artificial intelligence, mechatronics and human-robot interactions.

The next steps of RobotUnion

The 20 winners that will participate in the feasibility study and initiate the first acceleration programme of RobotUnion will be announced after a face-to-face and pitching process, which will take place on 13 September at Tecnalia Headquarters in San Sebastian (Spain). This Jury Day will consist of a live technical and non-technical capabilities validation process for the highest ranking candidates.

The winners may get up to €223,000 equity free and the 4 best startups will receive support from RobotUnion’s investment partners: CHRYSALIX, ODENSE SEED AND VENTURE and BLUMORPHO to raise around €1M of private financing. FundingBox will be supporting the public funding.

About RobotUnion

The RobotUnion acceleration programme will be active during the next three years, the second and last call for startups and SMEs is expected to open in the spring of 2019. The project, led by FundingBox, is supported by the collaboration of 14 entities from 7 countries, which provide researchers and top business professionals who will fit the needs and guide the selected scaleups.

The 12-month online premium acceleration service of each RobotUnion’s call will be composed of boot-camps, networking events, business and investment mentor sessions, in order to help scaleups from a technical and non-technical point of view.

The business acceleration is managed by ISDI and will incorporate high-level business mentors from IMPACT Accelerator. It has invested over €14 million in 77 startups from 2014 to 2017 and has recently been named among the global top ten in Gust’s Global Accelerator Report.

Research and Technology Organisations in the consortium will provide technical and technological support as leading R&D institutes in robotics in Europe: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Danish Technological Institute, TU DELFT, TECNALIA and PIAP.

Participants have the chance to have direct contact with leaders of the agri-food, healthcare, civil engineering and the manufacturing sector through the participation of organisations including MADE, Ferrovial Servicios, ARLA Foods and FENIN.

The project will be presented at DLD Tel Aviv 2018 between 4-6 September and during Mobile World Congress Los Angeles, 12-14 September, represented by Mobile World Capital Barcelona.

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