Venture Capital: A Robotics Startup That Lived To Tell The Tale
Blue Ocean Robotics survived the industry flameouts in 2018 and 2019. Now its robots are battling the coronavirus in China.
Denmark-based Blue Ocean Robotics, led by Claus Risager, is selling hundreds of hospital robots to China. The robots will aid in the country’s battle against the coronavirus.
At €60,000 each (US$67,000), the UVD robots glide around hospitals and healthcare facilities beaming UV light to destroy bacteria and viruses. (Sifted)
The Chinese order for UV robots has been a shot-in-the-arm for Blue Ocean which sells the machines through its subsidiary UVD Robots.
Blue Ocean Robotics: Phoenix among the ashes
Risager attributed the cause of recent failures of high profile robotic startups such as Rethink, Anki, Jibo, and CyPhy Works to additional hardware challenges beyond the pale of the normal startup. He said there was much more to it than just the technical ability to build the robot.
Risager turned around the business when he decided to change his model to owning the robots instead of simply developing them for big companies. In another innovation, he rebooted his manufacturing process into a ‘robot venture factory’ – a technology platform suitable for self-driving robots which could then be further developed for various applications.
“We make one robot after the other, spin them out into their own subsidiaries,” said Risager. “And we use the same tools over and over again.”
Blue Ocean raised capital for the first time in 2016. Further raises came in 2018 and 2019. According to Crunchbase, it has raised a total of $48.7 million to date.
UVD robots in China and Coronavirus
The company’s UVD robots are a very successful line in the market for two years. Hundreds have been deployed at a year-on-year growth of 400%.
China will get its first batch of these robots this month. Armed with advanced algorithms and special sensors these robots cover all surfaces with the right amount of light.
Risager claims the UVD robots pay for themselves in four and a half months even though the sticker shock for each is about US$67,000.
Given quarantine issues, he said he was forced to train the local Chinese in the use of the robots via video-streaming.
Image Credit: UVD Robots
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