BLOG: Huw Davies – The Robots Are Coming!

Its 8am on a Friday morning and I’m sitting in a busy airport lounge waiting for my flight to San Diego. Why? Because this week is the kick off the week-long entrepreneur Mission to California for UK companies working in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) – and it’s destined to be an inspiring one.

The eight UK companies going on this mission are the cream of the crop in terms of robotics and autonomous systems and this week could potentially shape the future of some of these amazing organisations. They went through a tough, competitive process to get a place on this mission and were chosen for all the right reasons – they are the best of the best. Not only are they the best, however, they are also interesting. The companies are involved in work on everything from toys that operate autonomously to intelligent furniture and sophisticated robot hands that have human features. These are all exciting and potentially market changing technologies and we want UK companies to be ahead of the game in these areas.

What’s also exciting is that these companies are all SMEs, run by entrepreneurs and in many cases at the early stages of their product development. Who knows where this mission could lead them?

It’s also an exciting time for Robotics and Autonomous Systems in the UK as a whole and the Government is truly behind this innovative, flourishing sector.

David Willets, Minister of State for Universities and Science, recently said: “Robots acting independently of human control – which can learn, adapt and take decisions – will revolutionise our economy and society over the next 20 years.” This certainly does ring true, especially when you explore the potential that just these eight companies are offering.

At the same time, robotics and autonomous systems have also been identified as one of the Government’s “Eight Great Technologies” – technologies that have the potential to make the UK a global leader. As a result, £600 million pounds of investment has been put into these key areas, with RAS having a share of that. This investment money was made available for businesses working in these eight technology areas at the start of the year and is likely to continue to receive more funding and support moving forward. This is helping more SME’s to commercialise their products faster and is exactly what we need to boost the UK economy.

With this in mind, the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Mission is an important one for us at the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board.

It’s been a long week at the Technology Strategy Board so far. As lead Technologist at the UK’s Innovation Agency, life is always busy, but this week I have been swept off my feet as we have been working on the final touches for the mission.

Tuesday was one of the busiest days so far as it was the Mission launch event. The day was designed to prepare the companies for what is going to be an intense and potentially game changing week for them and their businesses. We guided them through everything they need to know, from how to ‘do business’ in San Diego and Silicon Valley, right through to how to pitch to a US audience and all of the regulation our entrepreneurs need to be mindful of when looking to take their business in to US market.

With the effort that has been put in, I know the agenda for the week ahead won’t disappoint and sitting here in this airport I am full of confidence that we are about to see potentially one of the best missions yet.

David Willets will be there and on Monday he will be kicking off the week with a round table debate on the future of Robotics. Our companies will spend their time getting involved in 1-2-1 meetings, pitching sessions and meeting with key innovators across the US RAS landscape which they may never have had rubbed shoulders with if they had tried to go it alone.

Speaking from experience of successfully working in both San Diego and Silicon Valley, I have some straightforward advice to the companies on the mission: To be most effective, be clear on your business along with the value proposition of your products. This will enable you to engage with the Silicon Valley ethos of openness, intrigue and willingness.

New ideas and products intrigue the California technology gurus. They are open to identifying partnership opportunities and, if you are of the ‘right stuff’, which our companies definitely are, they will be willing to make those all important connections.

And so it begins…

Huw Davies 2

Huw Davies is Lead Technologist at the Technology Strategy Board, responsible for Robotics, Electronics and Sensors.

Best of the Best British Robotics Companies Start Touring California Today

UK’s Innovation Agency Commences ‘Robotics and Autonomous Systems Entrepreneur Mission 2014’ in California

SAN FRANCISCO – June 23, 2014 – The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, today embarks on the ‘Robotics and Autonomous Systems Mission 2014’ with eight robotics companies from the UK. The mission will allow these companies to showcase their technology to peers, partners, investors and potential customers.

The eight selected robotics companies represent the very best that the British robotics and autonomous systems industry has to offer, showcasing the breadth and depth of innovation within British robotics. The technologies range from an entrepreneur that has created a new robot based on the Raspberry Pi mini-computer, to one company designing robots to help the elderly and another company creating the world’s smallest Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Mission activities begin today as the eight companies and representatives from The Technology Strategy Board venture to San Diego where they will meet with representatives from industry-leading maritime and robotics companies. The San Diego leg of the mission will be headlined by a roundtable discussion keynoted by Rt Hon. David Willetts, the Minister of State for Universities and Science.

Following events in San Diego, the mission will travel to Silicon Valley and San Francisco where the companies will continue with a packed agenda of briefings and partnership discussions with leading US robotics companies, academic organizations and research institutions as well as meeting with investors to explore US funding opportunities focused on innovation in the field of robotics. The Mission will end on Friday 27 June in San Francisco.

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

The companies earned their place on the Mission by demonstrating the potential of their technologies to the Technology Strategy Board.

The participants of 2014 Robotics and Autonomous Systems Mission are:

Agilic

Agilic is a start-up based at The Bristol Robotics Lab technology Incubator. Agilic is developing a range of educational Robotics kits that inspire learning and play. The PiBot is based on the Raspberry Pi mini-computer, a low cost, credit-card sized computer that has gained worldwide adoption, it will allow anyone to build, program, and customise their own personal robot.

Aura Tech

Advanced Unmanned Robotics & Automation TECHnology (AuraTech) was founded in 2012 and operates out of the Tees Valley in the North of England. AuraTech offers engineering and design consultancy services for remote technology applications, and is currently working on a Remote Operate Aerial Endurance Vehicle (ROAEV).

D-RisQ

D-RisQ produces automated formal analysis tools that change the way the world develops safety critical systems and software in sectors where the consequences of failure -could be catastrophic  including Aerospace, Defence, Nuclear Power, Rail, Automotive and Robotics.  These tools cut the cost and time of development whilst ensuring safety requirements are met. Applicable to all business sectors, these tools have been used successfully on software systems for military aircraft.

MapleBird

MapleBird is at the forefront in the development of the smallest Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the world. This technology enables a range of small devices and opens up many possibilities, from sophisticated reconnaissance UAVs for civilian services and industrial plant inspection through to personal drones controlled through a smart phone.

Q Bot

Q-Bot is developing a robotics platform that can cost effectively survey, assess and apply treatments to existing buildings, without the cost and disruption of current insulation methods. With a focus on improving energy efficiency in buildings, Q-Bot provides real, scalable and cost effective solutions to reduce CO2 and enable affordable warmth.

Reach Robotics

Reach Robotics, founded in May 2013, is a robotics entertainment company based at the Bristol Robotics Lab incubator. The company has developed MechaMonsters – small, four-legged robots that can interact with their owners and each other (by playing games and challenging other MechaMonsters to duels).  The Monsters can be customised physically and virtually, and are controlled through a smart phone app.

Sebastian Conran Associates

Sebastian Conran Associates (SCA) is a London-based product design and development studio that focuses on transforming science into culture to create robotic experiences in the home. Concepts under development include ‘MiRoCo’, a Mimetic Robotic Companion -designed to support and enhance peoples’ experience of later life by increasing their independence.

Shadow

Shadow  has a globally-recognised capability in taking cognitive robotics technology from the lab into the real world. Shadow’s key product is the Dexterous Hand, which gives robots the same capability and flexibility as the human hand, enabling a new generation of service robots for roles as varied as hazardous material handling and industrial quality control

More information about the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Mission 2014 can be found here: http://roboticsmission.org/

About The Robotics and Autonomous Systems Mission 2014 (www.roboticsmission.cabbage.wpengine.com)

The Technology Strategy Board and UKTI are leading an entrepreneurs’ mission specialising in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) to California.  It’s a unique week-long trip from 23-27 June 2014 for 10 of the UK’s most innovative start-ups and SMEs specialising in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS).  The mission features a specially-developed programme for companies who want to lay the groundwork for expanding their business into one of the largest and most dynamic robotics markets in the world. The bespoke agenda is designed to provide a unique insight into the US robotics and autonomous systems landscape, open doors to customers and connect with robotics investors.

 About The Technology Strategy Board (www.innovateuk.org)

The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency.  Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

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Press Contact:

Alex Monney

amonney@vocecomm.com

(408) 386-2966

The Robotics Mission Roundtable: The Future of Robotics [Livestream]

What will be the role of robotics in the workplace? How can startups in robotics become mass-market success stories? And what will the robotics industry look like in five, or even 50 years? Today, the Robotics Mission group joins academic, government and industry experts from California to explore “The Future of Robotics and Autonomous Systems” at a roundtable discussion.

Hosted by the Qualcomm Institute at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), the panel brings together the eight companies on the mission, with a keynote from Minister of State for Universities and Science, the Rt. Hon. David Willetts, MP.

The Future of Robotics Roundtable at UCSD

The one-hour panel discussion and Q&A will begin at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time (9:30 pm BST) on Monday, June 23 in UCSD’s Calit2 Auditorium, Atkinson Hall. The event is open to the public and free of charge,and the session will be streamed live.

British and American researchers and executives who are not in San Diego this week. The webcast will subsequently be archived for on-demand viewing.

“The Qualcomm Institute is delighted to welcome the UK delegation to California, and we’re honored that our institute and UC San Diego are the first stop on a very ambitious and hectic five-day agenda,” said institute director Ramesh Rao, one of the leading faculty members involved in a robotics initiative at UC San Diego.

“California companies and investors also have a lot to learn from the early successes in Britain’s robotics industry, and it’s worth remembering that the industry in the UK and California owes much of its strength to the ideas and personnel coming out of the world-class universities in both places.”

During the panel discussion, UCSD Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Miroslav Krstic will welcome the UK delegation to the campus.

Willetts will deliver the keynote talk on UK science policy and the Conservative government’s efforts to nurture the startup environment for companies and investors in British robotics ventures – and his vision for cooperation between UK and California companies. Also on the panel:

Ramesh Rao, Director, Qualcomm Institute and holder of the Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Information Technologies and Telecommunications in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department (moderator);

Todd Hylton, Senior Vice President, Brain Corporation;

Andra Keay, Managing Director, Silicon Valley Robotics, the leading networking association for robotics in Silicon Valley; and

Rich Walker, Managing Director, Shadow Robot Company. Founded in 1987, Shadow Robot’s leading product is the Dexterous Hand, which gives robots the same capability and flexibility as the human hand with 20 degrees of freedom and over 100 sensors in a package the same size as a human hand.

UK’s Best Robotics Firms Win UK Govt Competition To Attend Prestigious ‘Mission’ In California

London, 11 June 2014: The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, today announced the winners that will attend the prestigious ‘Robotics and Autonomous Systems Mission 2014’ held from 23-27 June 2014 in California.

The selected robotics companies represent the very best that the British robotics and autonomous systems industry has to offer, showcasing the breadth and depth of innovation within British robotics.  The technologies range from an entrepreneur that has created a new robot based on the Raspberry Pi mini-computer, to one company designing robots to help the elderly and another company creating the world’s smallest Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.  More detailed information about the seven companies is available below.

The Mission starts on June 23 and will see the winning companies embark on a week long journey through San Diego, San Francisco and Silicon Valley to showcase their technology to peers, partners, investors and potential customers.  The Technology Strategy Board together with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has organised a packed agenda of briefings, meetings pitch opportunities and networking events to ensure the British robotics companies and entrepreneurs get unparalleled access to the US robotics ecosystem and unique insights into how to expand their business internationally.

Mike Biddle, Deputy Director – Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, said:

“The mission is designed to open doors, build networks and showcase British innovation and Silicon Valley and San Francisco are synonymous with being at the forefront of global robotics and autonomous systems technology.  These companies will benefit from meetings with leading robotics, academic and research institutions, gaining fresh ideas and developing new partnerships and funding opportunities. It’s a springboard which can help them to launch their business, thrive and turn their innovations into tangible business opportunities.”

Louis Barson, Deputy Director at UKTI Innovation Gateway, said:

“UK Trade and Investment’s Innovation Gateway is supporting the UK’s strengths in the 8 GREAT Technologies, including our growing Robotics industry. We see this mission as a chance for  some of our most exciting up and coming businesses to do deals and build connections in the US. And maybe sow the seeds for the next big breakthrough technology as a US-UK collaboration!”

 

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

The companies earned their place on the Mission by demonstrating the potential of their technologies to the Technology Strategy Board.

The participants of 2014 Robotics and Autonomous Systems Mission are:

Agilic

Agilic is a start-up based at The Bristol Robotics Lab technology Incubator. Agilic is developing a range of educational robotics kits that inspire learning and play. The PiBot is based on the Raspberry Pi mini-computer, a low cost, credit-card sized computer that has gained worldwide adoption, it will allow anyone to build, program, and customise their own personal robot.

Aura Tech

Advanced Unmanned Robotics & Automation TECHnology (AuraTech) was founded in 2012 and operates out of the Tees Valley in the North of England. AuraTech offers engineering and design consultancy services for remote technology applications, and is currently working on a Remote Operate Aerial Endurance Vehicle (ROAEV).

D-RisQ

D-RisQ produces automated formal analysis tools that change the way the world develops safety critical systems and software in sectors where the consequences of failure -could be catastrophic  including Aerospace, Defence, Nuclear Power, Rail, Automotive and Robotics.  These tools cut the cost and time of development whilst ensuring safety requirements are met. Applicable to all business sectors, these tools have been used successfully on software systems for military aircraft.

MapleBird

MapleBird is at the forefront in the development of the smallest Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the world. This technology enables a range of small devices and opens up many possibilities, from sophisticated reconnaissance UAVs for civilian services and industrial plant inspection through to personal drones controlled through a smart phone.

Reach Robotics

Reach Robotics, founded in May 2013, is a robotics entertainment company based at the Bristol Robotics Lab incubator. The company has developed MechaMonsters – small, four-legged robots that can interact with their owners and each other (by playing games and challenging other MechaMonsters to duels).  The Monsters can be customised physically and virtually, and are controlled through a smart phone app.

Sebastian Conran Associates

Sebastian Conran Associates (SCA) is a London-based product design and development studio that focuses on transforming science into culture to create robotic experiences in the home. Concepts under development include ‘MiRoCo’, a Mimetic Robotic Companion -designed to support and enhance peoples’ experience of later life by increasing their independence.

Shadow

Shadow  has a globally-recognised capability in taking cognitive robotics technology from the lab into the real world. Shadow’s key product is the Dexterous Hand, which gives robots the same capability and flexibility as the human hand, enabling a new generation of service robots for roles as varied as hazardous material handling and industrial quality control.

The progress of the seven companies can be followed at @roboticsmission.

 The Robotics and Autonomous Systems Mission 2014 (www.roboticsmission.cabbage.wpengine.com)

The Technology Strategy Board and UKTI are leading an entrepreneurs’ mission specialising in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) to California.  It’s a unique week-long trip from 23-27 June 2014 for 10 of the UK’s most innovative start-ups and SMEs specialising in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS).  The mission features a specially-developed programme for companies who want to lay the groundwork for expanding their business into one of the largest and most dynamic robotics markets in the world. The bespoke agenda is designed to provide a unique insight into the US robotics and autonomous systems landscape, open doors to customers and connect with robotics investors.

 The Technology Strategy Board (www.innovateuk.org)

The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency.  Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

 

UK Trade & Investment (www.ukti.gov.uk)

UK Trade & Investment is the Government Department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high-quality investment to the UK’s dynamic economy acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business.