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Robotics Plus - Aporo apple packer - 2 copy

Agtech startup Robotics Plus wins prestigious award

Robotics Plus, a developer of robotics and automation technologies for the agriculture sector, has won a prestigious award in its home region of Australia-New Zealand. 

The startup has won an ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Award, from the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum.

The awards, which celebrate innovation, growth and impact of emerging businesses in Australia and New Zealand, were presented by Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern at a reception in Auckland this week.

Robotics Plus was founded in 2013 by Steve Saunders and Dr Alistair Scarfe with a simple goal in mind: to improving the quality, productivity and sustainability of the horticultural and other primary industry supply chains.

The company’s R&D efforts focus on automation, vision, robotics and AI, to solve the growing challenges in the primary industry globally such as: labour shortages, sustainability for growers and producers, pollination gaps and yield security.

Steve Saunders, chairman and founder of Robotics Plus, says: “It’s an absolute honour for the team to receive an ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Award.

“It is validation of the hard work of a lot of people over a number of years and celebrates our innovation, culture and diversity.

“Receiving such a prestigious award provides a valuable opportunity to showcase Robotics Plus to the world.

“We would like to recognise our fantastic partners and collaborators in the commercial, research and Government sectors, without them this would not be possible.”

Robotics Plus CEO Dr Matt Glenn says the company is experiencing strong growth on the back of increasing demand for its world-first platform technologies.

“Over the last 18 months Robotics Plus has launched two commercial products, entered the US and European markets, completed a $10 million Series A investment with Yamaha Motor Company and grown from a team of 12 to over 50,” says Glenn.

“We also have a number of new products in the pipeline and expect our growth to continue at the same rate for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve been able to achieve so much due to our passionate founders, innovative culture, diverse and entrepreneurial team, and collaboration with fantastic partners who share our vision to grow into a truly global business that will transform a number of industries.”

Saunders adds: “Importantly, our core company values of ‘he aronga nui’ (pioneering), ‘manaakitanga’ (collaboration), ‘tika me te pono’ (principled) and ‘kaitiakitangi’ (stewardship), also resonate strongly with our local and international partners who are helping us scale quickly.”

Robotics Plus launched its award winning robotic Āporo apple packers commercially in 2018.

The technology, which identifies and safely places up to 120 apples per minute in display trays, is being marketed by Global Pac Technologies, a Jenkins Group (NZ/Australia) and Van Doren Sales (US) joint venture.

Āporo apple packers are already operating in packhouses in New Zealand and USA, with a number of installations set for Europe.

Earlier this year, Robotics Plus launched its industry-changing Robotic Scaling Machines which automates the accurate measurement of logs on trucks and trailers, with Mount Maunganui-based ISO Limited commissioning the world’s first two automated logging truck scalers.

Robotics Plus has a range of technologies under development to address major issues in a range of industries, including the horticulture industry which is facing labour shortages and increasing consumer demand for fresh fruit, including:

  • an autonomous agricultural vehicle;
  • robotic pollinator;
  • robotic harvesters;
  • crop estimator; and
  • a number of confidential projects.

Dr Glenn says: “It’s an exciting time for Robotics Plus. We’re rapidly adding to our world-class development team to prototype new ideas, validate new components and integrate these into our robotic systems.

“Our efforts are well supported by our investors, commercial partners, Governmental partners and collaborative research relationships.”

The inaugural ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Awards was established by the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum (ANZLF), in association with founding partner Accenture.

ANZLF brings senior business and government leaders together to help Australia and New Zealand prosper in the global economy.

Robotics Plus winners’ prize for the ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Awards consists of $20,000 (Australian dollars) and an invitation to two funded winners’ summits to be held in 2020.

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