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Soft Robotics raises $20 million in ‘oversubscribed’ funding round

Industrial robotics company Soft Robotics has raised $20 million in what it says was “an oversubscribed funding round”.

The new investors include Scale Venture Partners, Calibrate Ventures, Honeywell Ventures, Tekfen Ventures, Yamaha Motor, with Hyperplane Venture Capital leading the round.

Existing investors include Material Impact, ABB Technology Ventures, Taylor Farms Ventures and Haiyin Capital. 

Joining the board of directors will be Rory O’Driscoll from Scale Venture Partners and Kevin Dunlap from Calibrate Ventures.

Soft Robotics unlocks robotic automation for large, meaningful markets and labor starved industries such as food and beverage, advanced manufacturing and e-commerce.

Leveraging patented material science and AI algorithms, Soft Robotics designs and builds automation solutions and soft robotic gripping systems that can grasp and manipulate items with the same dexterity of the human hand.

Since the company’s inception, its technology platform has experienced substantial customer validation and adoption, with over 80 per cent year over year revenue growth and production installations running 24/7 for Fortune 500 companies and Dow 30 components, including Just Born Quality Confections (maker of Peeps).

Carl Vause, CEO, Soft Robotics, said: “We’re proud of the team’s work to date to scale up the Soft Robotics’ technology platform and gain significant commercial traction across our customer verticals.

“We’ve been able to address some of our customers’ largest supply chain and automation challenges, from picking and packing fresh produce and raw proteins, to bin picking and retail order fulfillment.”

ABB, a leader in robotics and industrial automation, sees the investment in Soft Robotics as part of ABB’s overall strategy to shape the future of industrial digitalization and the automated warehouse.

Grant Allen, head of ventures at ABB Group, said: “We saw early on that the Soft Robotics solution is a paradigm shift in the way our machines interact with their environment, especially in their ability to grasp deformable, delicate, binned or otherwise complex items.

“As a leader in industrial manipulation with over 300,000 robots deployed, ABB sees a huge number of amplifying automation solutions but the intuitive control software Soft Robotics has created combined with their agile gripper is a linchpin of the automated warehouse.

“In an era of increasingly high mix, low volume production cycles coupled with the need for pain-free automation configurability, we are also extremely excited about the direction Soft Robotics is taking their core technology with SuperPick, allowing ABB arms to do more with less training, greater accuracy and increasing autonomy.”

This funding round comes at a pivotal time in Soft Robotics’ growth. Having proven the economic benefit and scalability of the technology, the company is today at a critical moment of accelerating its commercial penetration plans and new product roadmap.

O’Driscoll, partner at Scale Venture Partners, said: “As investors we aim to match innovative technologies with major, unmet market needs.

“The $40 billion industrial automation market is large and growing, but largely limited to industries like automotive and semiconductor.

“Existing rigid robotic technology just doesn’t work for industries such as food and beverage or e-commerce, because of the variability of the product and the unstructured nature of the environment.

“With so many industries facing mounting pressure to automate, we aren’t surprised that there has been such rapid adoption of Soft Robotics’ technology.”