Tauranga's Robotics Plus, a world-leading robotics and automation company developing innovation to unlock new levels of productivity in some of the world’s most labour-intensive food and fibre value chains, has won an ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Award.
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 on Thursday night.
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.
“It’s an absolute honour for the team to receive an ANZLF Trans-Tasman Innovation and Growth Award,” says chairman and founder of Robotics Plus, Steve Saunders. “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 US$10M Series A investment with Yamaha Motor Company and grown from a team of 12 to over 50,” says Matt. “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.”
Steve says acknowledged the key values of Robotics Plus.
“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,” says Steve.
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 – RSM - 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. These include an autonomous agricultural vehicle, robotic pollinator, robotic harvesters, crop estimator, and a number of confidential projects.
“It’s an exciting time for Robotics Plus,” says Matt. “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 $20,000AUD and an invitation to two funded winners’ summits to be held in 2020.