Singapore-based robotics startup Botsync secures seed-funding from lead investors

Singapore-based robotics startup Botsync has secured seed-funding from lead investors Wong Fong Industries Ltd., SEEDS Capital, Angelhub and Artesian Venture Partners for an undisclosed amount. 

The funding will enable them to accelerate product development, build new technology teams and scale up production of  their heavy-duty autonomous mobile robot solutions, to support the logistics and manufacturing sector. 

Four Indian graduates from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - Nikhil Venkatesh, Prashant Trivedi, Singaram Venkatachalam and Rahul Nambiar - founded the startup in 2017.

Botsync's early investors include venture capital and accelerator firm Brinc and Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Ecolabs Center of Innovation - where it was incubated. 

Botsync was incubated at the EcoLabs Centre of Innovation for Energy (EcoLabs), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), where its product commercialisation was accelerated and its funding rounds supported by the EcoLabs co-investor network.

“This funding support empowers us to scale up the commercialisation of our robotics solution and enhance the features of our automated vehicles for safer and more reliable use,” said Rahul Nambiar, CEO and Co-founder of Botsync.

SEEDS Capital is the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore, Wong Fong is a SGX listed Group specialising in several businesses including customised engineering solutions, industrial and hospitality training, education and talent management and placements. 

Angelhub is Hong Kong’s first Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) licensed startup investment, and  Artesian Venture Partners is a highly active alternative investment firm in the Asia-Pacific region with over 400 startups in its portfolio. 

Rahul Nambiar, founded the startup in 2017. Photo Courtesy: Botsync
Four Indian graduates from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, Nikhil Venkatesh, Prashant Trivedi, Singaram Venkatachalam and Rahul Nambiar, founded the startup in 2017. Photo Courtesy: Botsync

Chern Yean Liew, Executive Director of Wong Fong Industries, said, “COVID-19 has considerably shortened the digitisation and automation timeline.  Whilst it was deemed necessary a couple of months back, it was not an urgent need. Companies will now need to embrace and find new ways to harness the benefits of technology in order to be ahead of the innovation curve.”

“ As a Group with engineering as one of its core businesses, Wong Fong recognises the synergistic collaboration with Botsync and believes that with the support of Wong Fong, Botsync will be able to offer its innovative automation solutions to companies looking to automate and stay globally competitive”, he added. 

According to the founders, Botsync’s robots redefine industrial processes and improve efficiency by:

  • Enabling companies to simplify automation of their material movement processes with an intelligent fleet of autonomous mobile robots that can transport payloads between 500 and 1,000 kg.
  • Designing robots to be modular which can be deployed without any dependence on infrastructure-based sensors like QR codes. Thus allowing companies to automate daily material handling processes without stopping their existing operations.
  • Configuring and commissioning robots in minimal time, in some cases less than a week.
  • Traversing the local area to create maps of their operating environment, powered by deep learning engines, Botsync’s in-house built autonomous mobile robots. Using this data, they intelligently execute autonomous manoeuvres while avoiding other people and equipment.

Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, Associate Vice President (Strategy & Partnerships), NTU Singapore, states, “The successful fundraising of Botsync is a testament to the effectiveness of the EcoLabs in-house accelerator programme as well as the university’s efforts in grooming entrepreneurial talent. Botsync founders were mentored and guided through their innovation journey under EcoLabs, where their excellent teamwork combined with their passion for robotics resulted in technological solutions ready to help companies transform and transition into Industry 4.0.”

“Smart mobile robots that can transport heavy loads safely and efficiently are exactly the solutions that factories and warehouses need during this COVID-19 pandemic, to supplement their reduced manpower while minimising human-to-human contact, thus reducing the risk of virus transmission. Botsync’s success is a great example of how university incubators and industry can jointly bring disruptive innovations to the market,” Professor Subodh added.

Photo Courtesy: Botsync/Twitter
Photo Courtesy: Botsync/Twitter

To date, Botsync has completed sales contracts across Singapore and India and is currently working with a global energy management solutions company and an international transport and logistics company on pilot projects. 

Botsync says it can enhance local production and technical know-how capacities by: 

  • Contributing towards enhanced technical skill-set and expertise of manufacturers and industrial players in Singapore 
  • Advancing robotics incorporation in industrial processes and catalyse efforts towards Industry 4.0 
  • Using a scalable solution that requires minimal or no changes to existing infrastructure, helping enterprises reduce their dependencies on forklifts and personnel.
  • Enabling users of the robots to enjoy an estimated overall cost reduction of their material handling operations by up to 45 per cent.

In 2020, the company expects to complete up to three two to three commercial deployments of their robots, increase sales of their industrial training products, and expand its market reach in Southeast Asia and India.

"We are now in a strong position to build our technology teams in Singapore and India to meet the growing need for automated solutions. Our aim is to eventually help enterprises all over the world embrace automation," Mr Nambiar said.

Botsync is offering critical industry support during the COVID-19 situation with free automation consultation and flexible rental-based deployments of their products to help companies cope with mandatory sanitation measures and a reduced workforce amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Botsync is also offering a holistic approach for industrial mobile robotics learning through Botsync Labs, the academic and training division of Botsync, the company aims to create products and education materials to equip the workforce and student community with robotics and technology skills.

Author
Lakshmy Iyer
Lakshmy Iyer – Senior Correspondent, ASEAN & Entertainment

Lakshmy has been contributing regularly as a freelance writer since 2012. Her writing has been an amalgamation of the language, literature and rich cultural experiences of India as well as South East Asia. An Instructional Designer by profession she is passionate about lifelong learning. Art is her medium of reflection. She participates in art exhibitions thus contributing to the local art scene and using this platform, supports social causes in Singapore as well.

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