Innovate UK EDGE Pitchfest has helped an innovative robotics company to raise £1.2m of investment in order to scale the team and bring its product to market: This funding will enable Antobot to develop various full applications using its modular platform, starting with its scouting robot, “Insight”, and later adding similar weeding and harvesting robots to the portfolio.
Founded by embedded controls and robotics experts, Antobot is developing innovative vertically-integrated robotics AI solutions for agriculture. It aims to increase efficiency and sustainability, whilst maintaining accessibility and affordability with products.
Pitching and investment readiness support from Innovate UK EDGE
When Innovate UK EDGE started working with Antobot after it was awarded £89,548 by Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund in October 2020, our specialist quickly identified that it needed to raise investment in order to scale the team and bring its product to market fast. It was made aware of, and was successful in its application to, its regional instance of our Pitchfest investment readiness training in 2021 in the East of England.
With full wraparound support from its specialist before, during and after Pitchfest, it was able to focus its investor pitch to emphasise the farming-as-a-service model, making the investor story clearer and more focused.
The company also received advice on its investment strategy, the evaluation and identification of distinct target customers, business models and alternative sources of finance, with another Innovate UK grant opportunity highlighted.
During Pitchfest itself, the specialist put Antobot forward for an opportunity to pitch at the prestigious AI Festival.
“Following Pitchfest we received significant backing from a major investor, which sets us up perfectly for the future. We would have not been in this position without your support and appreciate it greatly,” said Marc Jones, business director at Antobot.
Antobot has to date hired six new staff in the UK and is currently negotiating to fund two PhD students.
Strategic investment from a leading automotive electronics solutions provider in China
Antobot received its strategic investment in May 2021, from Intron Technology Holdings Limited, a leading automotive electronics solutions provider in China. The strategic relationship with Intron will provide valuable support in supply chain, manufacturing, and quality assurance to bring Antobot’s universal Robot Control Unit and Insight to market in 2022.
Intron has been devoted to developing an ecosystem of automotive electronics industry and strengthening cooperation with world leading R&D institutions. During initial discussions, Intron was very impressed with Antobot and its team, the proposition, and the market potential. It was keen to accelerate the full development and commercialisation of Antobot’s technology and it believed this will provide it a good route to expand its reach into European markets.
“We are strongly committed to Research and Development at Intron, particularly when promoting innovation and sustainability. And we are looking forward to working with Antobot, learning from each other, and helping Antobot grow into the leading force in the agricultural robotics sector we know it can be,” said Eddie Chan, Co-CEO and Executive Director of Intron Technology.
As Antobot establishes a strong relationship with its new investor, it intends to establish a presence in China, starting with an office in Shanghai.
Antobot is still working closely on its Innovate UK grant-funded project with its initial trial farming partners. Intron’s strategic investment will help it to firmly cement those relationships and ensure that it delivers exactly what those partners need.
These trials will then, very likely, lead to commercial contracts with those farming partners, helping to bring full commercialisation forward quickly. It would then look to expand throughout the UK and the rest of Europe. Intron is also particularly keen to promote Antobot’s technology to the vast Chinese market.
Marc Jones continued: “We at Antobot feel so fortunate to be selected into Pitchfest and were provided such invaluable training and advice on our “Pitching Journey”: the specialist trainer Ian and the guest speakers David and Phil provided all-round advice on the start-up life-cycle, valuation, legal, and pitching techniques; our very own Innovate UK EDGE advisor Daniel Dearing helped us on many front-lines, from value proposition, innovation spectrum, all the way to story line, presentation structure and presentation styles; with Kirsten and Christina keeping everything running smoothly even under the pandemic lockdown. Finally, the opportunity to pitch in front of a high-quality investor panel gave valuable real-world feedback and provided the necessary refinements for a compelling pitch.
Pitchfest, coupled with the wrap-around support from Innovate UK EDGE’s innovation and growth specialist has given Antobot a fantastic foundation to build and grow our start-up and has been instrumental in securing our first major private investment. We would recommend to all our fellow start-ups!”