A University of Plymouth spinout company has been awarded a £145,000 grant by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to accelerate the development of its robotics technology.
The grant, supplemented by a £30,000 investment from its own funds, will help Fieldwork Robotics to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the company.
Fieldwork, created to commercialise the work of Lecturer in Robotics Dr Martin Stoelen, will use the funding to create a digital simulator of its robotics technology.
Among other advantages, the simulator will allow engineers to work remotely during lockdowns and optimise internal processes to reduce prototyping costs. An alpha prototype for manufacturability of its raspberry-harvesting robot is expected for trials in spring next year.
The move also marks a deepening in Fieldwork’s relationship with industry partner Bosch, which will be supporting the company on the simulator development.
The Sustainable Innovation Fund grant follows the award of an £84,000 Innovate UK continuity grant to support work through COVID-19 in September 2020. Fieldwork’s costs, including those for raw materials, have risen during the pandemic.
In addition, Fieldwork announced it had won a £547,250 Innovate UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund grant in April 2019 to accelerate development of its technology, part of a £671,484 project involving partners including the University of Plymouth and the National Physical Laboratory.
Rui Andres, Fieldwork Robotics Chief Executive Officer, said:
“Innovate UK has been following our work closely, and we are very grateful for the continued support. This grant will allow us to build a tool that will save us time and money, while mitigating the effects of COVID-19. The Bosch collaboration has been invaluable, and we are very keen to keep developing our work together. And finally, this grant helps to reduce our carbon footprint, minimising the amount of plastic we require for the development of our robots.”