Christchurch-based Invert Robotics’ climbing robots are making waves – and investors are taking notice
Begun as a University of Canterbury spin-out, Invert Robotics is a Christchurch company that provides “non-destructive inspection services using state of the art mobile climbing robots” that “enable precise and accurate remote inspection of non-ferromagnetic surfaces such as stainless steel, carbon fibre, aluminium and glass.”
Translation: their robots can climb things to work in hard-to-reach and dangerous places, like dairy tanks – which can make human lives easier and safer.
Installed with high definition cameras and sensor technology to allow for equipment to be assessed for maintenance and for preventative analysis on a remote basis, Invert’s robots feed the people controlling them real-time video during an inspection that allows for immediate and highly accurate analysis. So, think a drone – that climbs things. And doesn’t shoot missiles.
Already being used by major Australian and New Zealand dairy companies and co-operatives such as Fonterra, Synlait and Murray Goldburn – as well as a number of global food and beverage brands – Invert also recently closed its latest investment offering, attracting interest from a number of high net worth and institutional investors from across Australasia. Not bad for robots that climb and clean stuff, huh?
Invert Robotics managing director Neil Fletcher is quick to talk up the innovation. “Unlike other inspection methods using dyes, drones and optical or laser devices, Invert Robotics’ technology provides 360-degree diagnostics and does so in up to half the time of traditional inspections,” he says. “The accuracy, efficiency and the value-adding environmental and safety benefits of robotic technology makes it an obvious choice as global consumer demand for product safety, brand integrity and transparency grows.”
Folks seem to be taking notice, too, as Invert is also attracting interest across other sectors and throughout the food and beverage manufacturing industry in Europe and Asia – including from multinational corporations such as FrieslandCampina and Heineken. Oh, and the company has also captured the attention of those working in the lucrative aviation inspection market, and claims it is poised to make a European partnership announcement soon regarding its successful development of further advanced robot technology. Invert is also looking at potential opportunities in the chemical industry, in addition to further work with energy, oil and gas companies. And has it been mentioned that in 2016 they teamed up with Air New Zealand to help keep the airline’s planes safe?
Image: Invert Robotics CEO James Robertson, left, and University of Canterbury Vice-Chancellor Rod Carr
But back to that latest investment round. Following an almost million dollar crowdfunding campaign through the Sydney-based platform Equitise, a further $6.4 million was raised from a limited sophisticated private investor round. Shareholders now include the former CEO of Macquarie Group Ltd, Allan Moss, and Inception Fiduciary Pty Ltd. These investments add to funding received from government and private venture capital sources soon after the company was founded by its now-chief technical officer, James Robertson.
Ok, that’s all well and good. But consider this: for the 2018/19 financial year, Invert is predicting its revenue will quadruple. And they’re so sure of that – which they believe will come from strong European market growth – they’ve opened an office in the Netherlands, and will soon open premises to operate in Germany and Denmark.
So much for robotics companies being ho-hum.