RIOS: Bringing Manufacturing into the 21st Century with Robotics as a Service

Mike Zimmerman
February 23, 2022

At Main Sequence we are building, nurturing and funding deeptech companies to tackle many of the world’s greatest challenges.

With global GDP is set to double by 2050, our “Supercharge Industrial Productivity” Challenge focuses on backing transformational companies that help meet our planet’s surging demand for economic production, while doing so efficiently, reliably and most importantly sustainably.

RIOS, who today announced their US$28m Series A led by Main Sequence, is helping us get there.

RIOS Workcell in action on production floor of consumer products manufacturer

Of course we are bullish on entirely new clean and green solutions, whether for energy (Endua) or protein (v2, Eden Brew), but we also need solutions that modernise and improve our existing industries. I know first hand (as both a founder and investor) that to do this well is really hard, and requires much more than great technology (and there’s a lot more to say on this topic, so I’ll come back to it in a future post).

RIOS deploys world-leading robotic “workcells” for manufacturers to help them scale reliably to meet their growing demand in the face of labour shortages and attrition. Workcells replicate specific and discrete processes in a production line, automating the work of up to 2 people. Workcells are deployed as needed, so customers can rollout the solution as needed vs. committing to end to end automation all at once.

The RIOS solution is powered by the world’s most advanced gripper and touch sensor technology and a computer vision / AI stack to ensure speed and adaptabilty to different product lines in food, consumer products, biochemical and agricultural industries. Their lineage includes technology spun out from Stanford and a founding team from Xerox PARC, as they are now working with several Australian public research organisations to accelerate their product roadmap and enter the Austalian market.

Their business model is as exciting to us as their technology: RIOS offers their solution “As A Service” to customers who pay per hour with no capex . The “As a Service” business model is a great one for addressing a lot of the big hurdles with deeptech adoption, and several of our other companies such as Emesent and Lumachain are employing that model with great success.

RIOS stood out amongst the numerous robotics companies we’ve looked at for their combination of world-class team, led by founder Dr Bernard Casse, scalable technology, huge market and of course business model.

And as a result, customers we spoke to said things like “no brainer” and “we will buy these as fast as they can roll them out”, which is always great to hear!

Another RIOS Workcell supercharging a mid-size manufacturer

Our investment in RIOS is also well aligned with Australia’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which lays out how Australia can establish a more competitive and resilient manufacturing sector. Key pillars of this strategy include backing digital transformation and establishing supply chain resilience, both of which are core capabilities for RIOS, especially in the food & beverage sector which is also an Australian National Manufacturing Priority.

We love the Robotics As A Service (RaaS) model. If you are helping tackle the Supercharge Industrial Productivity Challenge in a valuable way, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us here or reach out to me directly.

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