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Innovative Robotics Company Drives Productivity in the Agri-Tech Sector

Last updated 09 May 2022
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Fox Robotics, a company that helps improve efficiency and automation for soft fruit farms across the UK, has completed its latest funding round. This round will allow Fox Robotics to continue their R&D, increase its manufacturing operations and provide more job opportunities.

Fox Robotics, based in Farnham, Surrey and Martlesham, Suffolk, is an innovator in robotics technology.

Henry Acevedo, Founder and CTO of Fox Robotics, knew that robotics would be used more as technology improved. One of the areas Henry first saw the opportunity to revolutionise using robotics was the logistics operations within warehouses, defence, aerospace, and healthcare industries.

In 2017 Fox Robotics was founded and developed its first prototype, a robot which could transport materials around a factory, warehouse, or other industrial flooring environments. During a sustained outreach programme, Henry Acevedo, Founder and CTO of Fox Robotics, decided to pivot the company’s focus from warehouse automation to agricultural logistics with a primary focus on soft fruits.

The Hugo RT TM is an autonomous mobile robot that allows fruit pickers to spend more time picking fruit and less time transporting it. The robot is designed to travel up and down the rows of soft fruit, particularly strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, in glasshouses, polytunnels and outdoors. Hugo RT TM has been designed to be used all year round, ensuring farmers use this technology to its maximum potential.

Ben Butlin, Interim CEO at Fox Robotics, said, “The agricultural sector uses robotics in parts of their processes such as warehousing, and is now in a position where new technology is not just wanted, but needed. It was always clear that farming had a high reliance on human pickers. After the Brexit vote in 2016, it was obvious that this would become a problem, and this has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. There is a shortfall in pickers which the Hugo can help mitigate by taking on the role of fruit transporter, leaving the fruit pickers free to stay out in the field. We are delighted to be helping such a strong British industry whilst simultaneously advancing robotic technology.

Paul Lyristis, Senior Fund Manager, at The FSE Group, which manages the Enterprise M3 Growth Fund on behalf of the LEP adds: “We were extremely impressed by Fox Robotics knowledge and passion. Not just in terms of technology but also their resolve to work closely with existing data and procedures, integrating their robots into systems rather than overhauling current processes. There is no other company taking on the challenge of helping fruit farmers utilise robots out in the field in this way. Exciting times lay ahead for the team and the future of Agri-Tech thanks to Fox Robotics.”

Kathy Slack, CEO at Enterprise M3 LEP, comments: “It’s great to see a company like Fox Robotics benefit from the EM3 Growth Fund. High-tech innovation contributes enormously to both regional and national economic growth and this is another example of how R&D continues to thrive in the EM3 area. We’ve all seen the challenges faced by the growing industry in recent times, especially around the availability of labour. This project is a perfect example of how robots can support this key sector. I’m delighted that EM3 has been able to help enable innovation activities which will benefit the sector and increase the job opportunities for local people.”

The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator is £10million initiative funded by Enterprise M3 LEP. The escalator, which includes an expansion loan scheme, a trade finance loan scheme and an equity growth fund, provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £300,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities across the EM3 area.

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