14 September 2020
Frontier IP Group Plc
("Frontier IP" or the "Group")
Portfolio news - Innovate UK backs Fieldwork Robotics with continuity grant to support work through pandemic
Frontier IP, a specialist in commercialising intellectual property, today announces that Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency, has awarded portfolio company Fieldwork Robotics ("Fieldwork" or the "Company") an £84,000 continuity grant to accelerate development of its innovative agricultural robot technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grant will be used to support the Company's plans to expand its team and develop facilities amid growing interest in its technology from potential industry partners. Frontier IP holds a 26.9 per cent equity stake in the Company.
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, a University of Plymouth spin out, 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. The Company has since enjoyed strong progress. It has:
· completed field trials with some of the largest soft fruit growers in the UK
· raised £320,000 through an initial equity fund raise in January 2020
· announced a collaboration with Robert Bosch Limited in July 2020 to optimise the robot's arms and software development to reduce cost and increase speed as part of a drive towards full-scale commercial production
Fieldwork has also progressed in developing further applications of the technology to harvest other fruit and vegetables in addition to raspberries.
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.
Dr Stoelen has also led projects to develop a cauliflower harvesting robot system and a tomato gripper.
Rui Andres, Fieldwork Robotics Chief Executive Officer, 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 Officer, said: "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 "
Frontier IP Group Plc
T: 020 7332 2338
Neil Crabb, Chief Executive
Andrew Johnson, Communications & Investor Relations
Company website: www.frontierip.co.uk
M: 07464 546 025
Allenby Capital Limited (Nominated Adviser)
T: 0203 328 5656
Nick Athanas / James Hornigold
ABout innovate UK
Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas.
Innovate UK connects businesses to partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth.
Innovate UK fund businesses and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions.
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation. For more information, visit www.innovateuk.ukri.org
ABout frontier IP
Frontier IP unites science and commerce by identifying strong intellectual property and accelerating its development through a range of commercialisation services. A critical part of the Group's work is involving relevant industry partners at an early stage of development to ensure technology meets real world demands and needs.
The Group looks to build and grow a portfolio of equity stakes and licence income by taking an active involvement in spin-out companies, including support for fund raising and collaboration with relevant industry partners at an early stage of development.
Frontier IP is the commercialisation partner for the University of Plymouth.
ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF PLYMOUTH
The University of Plymouth is renowned for high quality, internationally-leading education, research and innovation.
With a mission to Advance Knowledge and Transform Lives, Plymouth is a *top 50 research university with clusters of world class research across a wide range of disciplines including marine science and engineering, medicine, cybersecurity and psychology. A three-time winner of the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, most recently in 2020 in respect of its pioneering research on microplastics pollution in the oceans and its impact on the environment and changing behaviour, the University continues to grow in stature and reputation.
It has a strong track record for teaching and learning excellence, and has one of the highest numbers of National Teaching Fellows of any UK university. With over 19,000 students, and a further 9,500 studying for a Plymouth degree at partner institutions in the UK and around the world, and over 135,000 alumni pursuing their chosen careers globally, it has a growing global presence.
* Research Fortnight Research Power League Table 2014.
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