Frontier, a specialist in commercialising intellectual property, said the collaboration with Bonduelle, one of the world’s biggest producers of vegetables, is the second application of Fieldwork's patented agricultural robot technology to gain food industry backing.
Fieldwork has already made strong progress with a raspberry-harvesting robot in collaboration with Hall Hunter Partnership, one of the UK's biggest soft fruit producers, and is now working with Bosch to optimise the software and design of the robotic arms.
The Bonduellle collaboration is initially expected to last for three years, at the end of which there is expected to be a prototype ready for commercial manufacture.
Fieldwork, a spin-out from the University of Plymouth, will initially work on the detection and soft robotics technology with a view to creating an early-stage prototype during the second year of the collaboration. Bonduelle will provide access to fields and its expertise in vegetables and knowledge of different growing and harvesting conditions.
Frontier IP holds a 26.7% stake in Fieldwork.
Fieldwork has raised £318,000 so far this year to accelerate the development and scale-up of its technology. It has also been supported by a £547,250 Innovate UK grant as part of a £671,484 project to develop a multi-armed robot prototype. Other partners in the project included the University of Plymouth and the National Physical Laboratory. Innovate UK recently provided further support through an £84,000 continuity grant.
"Industrial validation is at the heart of what we do at Frontier IP, and so we are delighted with this announcement. It is Fieldwork's third industrial collaboration, following the recent announcement of its partnership with Bosch and the longer-term relationship with Hall Hunter,” Neil Crabb, the chief executive of Frontier said in a statement.
Shares in Frontier were up 1.4% at 71p in early deals.