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Startup Challenge finalists set for Automate Show

May 11, 2023
10 companies will go head-to-head live in the Phoenix Contact Startup Challenge

The 10 finalists of the Phoenix Contact Startup Challenge will go head-to-head at 2:30 pm on May 23 in the Automate Show Theater during A3's Automate 2023 in Detroit. Automate Show registration is still open.

Up-and-coming companies in robotics and automation will pitch their technology solutions to a panel of judges, vying for a $10,000 cash prize. The event is sponsored by Phoenix Contact.

Judging the competition will be Oliver Mitchell, partner, ff Venture Capital; Andrew Gollach, principal, HAX; Elizabeth Onasanya, senior investment analyst, Lockheed Martin; and Abe Murray, general partner, AlleyCorp.

The 10 finalists are:

Easy Floor Robotics

Estat Actuation



Sokul Auomation

Spin Robotics




Citizen Robotics.

Easy Floor Robotics (EFR) provides an opportunity to disrupt the flooring market. EFR develops autonomous robotic technology that automates the process of coating floors. This product is the development of technology similar to the Roomba but for the flooring market, which will integrate several robots for applying floors and a docking station with materials that are available on the market such as epoxy and micro-concrete.

"Technology is transforming every part of our lives, so the question is not whether robotics will enter the flooring industry, but who will be the first to do so?” reads EFR’s entry. “The world of construction is changing, and this is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the robotic revolution and participate in the I-Robot of the flooring market. We can disrupt the flooring market and build the future together.”

Estat Actuation is a deep-tech hardware company pioneering components that are designed to make robot solutions safer, more capable and less expensive. The company creates end-of-arm-tooling (EOAT) gripping solutions that handle a wide variety of parts, including parts with holes or pores, while consuming almost no power. The electroadhesive clutches and brake products also boost actuator assembly performance by reducing component weight by 10 times and power consumption by 1,000 times compared to conventional clutches, according to Estat. These disruptive technologies are the basis of the company’s platform B2B products, designed to solve hardware design challenges for customers across many industries, including advanced robotics designers, tools manufacturers and military safety applications.

"We can’t wait to show off our newest demos and manufacturing solutions to the Automate audience,” reads Estat’s entry. “The timing couldn’t be better for us to highlight our hardware and springboard into even more customer relationships."

Parrots is a health-tech company that has created Polly, an artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML)-powered platform that provides real-time voice, cognitive assistance and telecare to people with neurological disorders.

"AI, ML and automation technology improvements will result in greater productivity, cost savings, new products and more innovation in all industries," reads Parrots’ entry.

Sensable believes continuous-improvement teams have unlimited needs for time studies, either to improve the efficiency and safety or perform A/B studies to prioritize capital-improvement projects. An ideal product to address these requirements needs to solve long-tail vision problems. Sensable's Vision-AI platform enables time studies for human activities and flow of material. Understanding the environment is a must-have to make a robotic project successful. Sensable technology is designed to enable users to analyze a variety of known and unknown scenarios with a consumer-like experience. No deep-learning training, AI expertise or software training/specialized hardware is required, according to Sensable.

"Visibility of an unstructured environment is the first step towards autonomous operations," reads its entry.

Sokul Automation’s material fulfillment system (MFS) is an end-to-end solution that systematizes the material delivery process on the factory floor in manufacturing environments. Ensuring that material is delivered to the right place on time reduces factory line stoppages and improves product quality. Sokul’s products include system software controlling inexpensive mobile robots for bin storage and retrieval, light-load transport and heavy-load transport, as well as moving carts.

"As North America reindustrializes, automation is the primary lever to keep our industries globally competitive,” Sokul’s entry reads. “Our team is very excited to show our automated industrial fulfillment solutions in the heart of the Motor City. This is a huge opportunity for us to reach our core target audience and accelerate our success."

Spin Robotics produces plug-and-produce screwdriving tools for easy assembly with collaborative robots. The company’s end-of-arm-tools are designed to be safe alongside workers, affordable and easy to use. Its cobot screwdrivers can remove manual and repetitive tasks, which helps to reduce the risk of injuries, all while cutting down assembly time. With more flexible production, these end-of-arm tools can shorten the ROI, give data insights into assembly processes and increase productivity.

Spin Robotics is part of the Odense Robotics cluster, located on the island of Fyn in the heart of Denmark.

"We're grateful for this opportunity and we're excited to make the most of it,” reads Spin’s entry. “Our team has worked tirelessly to get to this point and we're ready to show the world of automation what we're made of. Our mission is to revolutionize automation of assembly tasks through a truly safe employee-robot collaboration."

Voaige builds vision AI-based software for robotic automation. It works with integrators to tackle more complex pick/pack/kit challenges in manufacturing, logistics, agtech and food industries.

Voaige’s software-only product works with any RGBD sensor and a large number of vacuum or finger grippers while powering any industrial or collaborative robot through industrial protocols. "Robotics and automation is one of the most important sectors to boost the economy,” reads its entry. “Our physical world has not evolved as quickly as our software world. Smart, efficient and affordable robotics is the key to changing that."

Deepview makes all-in-one deep learning cameras—vision cameras that learn to inspect any part from as few as 40 examples. "Deepview is excited to participate in the 2023 Automate start-up challenge,” its entry reads. “Automate is well-known as the largest automation trade show in North America, and we're honored to be selected. Deepview is grateful for the opportunity to showcase our all-in-one deep learning camera at Automate. It enables rapid feasibility and deployment and is fully backwards-compatible with all Deepview cameras in the field. We're excited to renew relationships at Automate 2023."

Khenda is an AI-powered continuous-improvement platform designed to help the manufacturing industry achieve operational excellence. Its platform combines AI-based video analytics and digitized engineering tools to streamline the define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) process, ensuring accurate data collection, in-depth analysis and effective process improvements.

"We are thrilled to be selected as a finalist in the Automate Startup Challenge, as it validates our innovative approach to transforming the manufacturing industry,” Khenda’s entry reads. “This recognition fuels our passion for driving operational excellence through AI-powered continuous improvement solutions."

Citizen Robotics is a nonprofit fostering the adoption of technology and robotic construction techniques in homebuilding in order to ease the labor shortage and provide more affordable, sustainable housing.

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