Soft Robotics has announced that it has raised $26m in an initial Series C closing and will use the funds to expand commercial deployment of its mGripAI robotic picking solutions. mGripAI is an easy-to-integrate automation package that combines ultra-fast 3D vision and artificial intelligence technologies with patented and proven, IP69K-rated, soft grasping to give industrial robots the hand-eye coordination of humans. This unprecedented combination of robotic “hands”, “eyes”, and “brains” enables, for the first time, the use of high-speed industrial arms to automate bulk picking processes throughout protein, produce, dairy, baked goods, and prepared foods operations.
Soft Robotics’ Series C was led by Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods, and brings new investors, Marel and Johnsonville, into SRI’s powerful investor syndicate. SRI reported that it closed the first $26m of an undisclosed-size round with participation from these new investors and strong participation from existing investors.
“We’re delighted that some of the world’s leaders in the food production and automation markets have decided to join existing investors in supporting SRI’s continuing growth journey,” said Jeff Beck, CEO of Soft Robotics. “SRI’s technologies are increasingly crucial to enabling and scaling efficient and safe production of several food categories. This round of growth capital strengthens SRI’s ability to rapidly develop, deploy and support those technologies.”
“For decades, food producers have been unable to adopt industrial robot arms to automate their most labor-intensive, bulk production processes,” said Mark Chiappetta, COO of Soft Robotics. “Finally, there is a solution! mGripAI, with its revolutionary perception and AI, unlocks the use of industrial robots in nearly all stages of food production increasing throughput, improving food quality, reducing facility footprint, and breaking the critical dependency on labor.”
Companies such as Tyson Foods and Johnsonville, are betting on adoption of robotic automation to help improve safety and increase production in their facilities to meet the demand for high quality, safe and nutritious protein products. Both companies are existing users of Soft Robotics solutions.
“At Tyson, we are continually exploring new areas in automation that can enhance safety and increase the productivity of our team members,” said Rahul Ray, senior director of Tyson Ventures. “Soft Robotics’ revolutionary robotic technology, computer vision and AI platform have the potential to transform the food industry and will play a key role in any company’s automation journey.”
“We’re excited to be extending our partnership with Soft Robotics and adding investor to our existing customer relationship,” said Kevin Ladwig, managing director of Johnsonville Ventures. “We believe Soft Robotics offers best-in-class pick and place systems which are applicable to numerous primary and secondary processing operations. Applications that reduce repetitive motion and improve employee safety, in addition to enhancing productivity, are welcomed improvements for any operation.”
A global increase in demand for quality and sustainably produced food, at a time of worsening labor scarcity, is causing food producers to struggle with supply, further intensifying the pressure to automate. As a result, Soft Robotics has experienced an increase in demand for its solutions and has delivered the four largest sales quarters in the company’s eight-year history.