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Nicola Tomatis on “What funding scheme is the most conducive to creating a robotics industry?”

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15 February 2013



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I would like to start from the other side: “Why is robotics great in creating new technologies and poor in creating new businesses?”. Well, someone may disagree, but I really think that robotics is great in creating new technologies. However, almost everyone agrees that robotics is poor in creating new businesses.

In my opinion, this is due to two main reasons:

  1. Robotics is DIFFICULT! It is a multidisciplinary field, where you have to put together the best from several worlds, and make it work. This results in huge integration challenges, which are as complex, or even more complex, than the technology itself.
  2. Robotics is EXPENSIVE! Being an expensive technology makes it challenging to find viable business models for new markets.

Based on that, a successful funding scheme should foster the transition from research and technology to integration and business. This does not mean that one should directly fund companies, but that the funding scheme should enforce market orientation. In addition to the fundamental research, a successful funding scheme should put in place a combination of market oriented technological research, development of integration solutions, and pre-commercial procurement. This should, hopefully, help new robotics applications to reach the market.

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Nicola Tomatis is a panel member for Robohub's Robotics by Invitation series.





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