Fieldwork Robotics, a portfolio company of Frontier IP, has received an £84,000 continuity grant from Innovate UK to accelerate development of its agricultural robot technology during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The grant will be used to support the University of Plymouth spin-out's plans to expand its team and develop facilities amid growing interest in its technology from potential industry partners.
Fieldwork is currently focused on developing technology to harvest soft fruit and vegetables to help growers worldwide address the widespread issues around human labour shortages. These have been exacerbated by Covid-19 and its impact on people movement internationally and the introduction of social distancing requirements.
The company 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 whose other partners included the University of Plymouth and the National Physical Laboratory.
Fieldwork was incorporated to develop and commercialise the work of Dr Martin Stoelen, who splits his work between the University of Plymouth, where he lectures in robotics and leads the soft and adaptive robotics lab, and as an Associate Professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.
Rui Andres, Fieldwork Robotics chief executive, said: "Fieldwork Robotics is addressing the long-standing problems soft-fruit and vegetable growers have faced in recruiting enough human labour to harvest their crops. Covid-19 has only made these problems worse.
"We are very grateful to Innovate UK and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for their continued support."
Neil Crabb, Frontier IP chief executive, added: "We would like to thank Innovate UK for its ongoing support for Fieldwork Robotics.
"We are seeing significant industrial interest in the company's technology above the recently announced agreement with Bosch. We remain confident about Fieldwork's long-term prospects."