Bangalore based ARTPARK (AI and Robotics Technology Park), a non-profit organisation that backs technology driven solutions for social causes, is launching a $100 Mn venture capital fund for robotics startups.
Founded in 2020 in the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru , the venture works closely with universities and research labs to solve real world issues using technology. It is seed-funded by DST (Department of Science and Technology ) and GoK (Government of Karnataka). It is currently incubated at the Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber-Physical Systems at IISc.
In a conversation with ET, ARTPARK chief executive officer, Umakant Soni said “We have the university ecosystem that produces world class talents. Connecting them to an institution like ARTPARK will help them work on their ideas, use our resources and scale up solutions.”
“VC funds in India expect companies to show value in terms of revenue. But in reality, revenue is only a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator,” he added. This fund could potentially bridge the existing gap in financing deep tech firms.
Soni also stated that the VC fund aligns with the economic model of ARTPARK where the organisation becomes autonomous in 5 years once the funding from the government stops.
With the limitations of manual labour highlighted during the Covid19 pandemic , the robotics and AI industry is bound to experience a rapid surge in the coming years.
According to a 2019 report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) 3,412 robots were installed in India in manufacturing plants in 2017, but it’s not just automotive, electronics and packaging industries that are finding new roles for robots. With the Covid-19 pandemic throwing light on sanitation requirements in hospitals and quarantine centres, robots have come to replace human cleaners as well.
For instance, in order to prevent the contraction of the virus by doctors, Asimov Robotics and Milagrow partnered with hospitals to offer a potential solution through their robots which minimise the physical interaction between patients and doctors. Robots also replaced nurses and ward attendants who usually brought medicines and food to the patients in Covid-19 wards.
Robots and AI have also entered the food industry in the past few years. Bengaluru-based kitchen robotics company Mukunda Foods and Chennai-based startup RoboChef have already been leading the way in food-tech in India since 2012 and 2017, respectively. While the former has played a crucial role in assisting the automation of kitchens, the latter has been shipping food from its fully automated kitchens since its launch in 2017.