Established in Berlin in 1847, and with a presence in Silicon Valley since the 1950s, Siemens invests more than $1B in the US each year for research and development. Now their Technology to Business team (TTB) has launched the Frontier Partner program, which aims to give startups in robotics and 3D printing a head start by providing them with software and resources to accelerate the development and manufacturing of their products. We spoke with Director of Strategy for Siemens PLM Software, Andy Swiecki, about why Siemens is focusing on robotics right now, and what startups can expect to get out of the Frontiers program.
[AK] Hi Andy, could you introduce yourself and tell us about Siemens Frontier Program?
[AS] Hi my name is Andy Swiecki, I’m with Siemens PLM Software. I’m part of our strategy division and I work with a lot of our third party software and technology partners. One of the programs I work with is the Frontier Program, which is set up to support startup companies working in technology areas that are of interest to Siemens.
Two of the initial technology areas are additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, and robotics. We rolled out the Frontier Program at the end of 2014. We have a fair number of 3D printing companies that are part of the program – startup companies that are looking at new innovative technologies – and we’ve recently expanded it to include robotics. We are looking forward to getting more companies that are in the startup stage to join the program and work with Siemens technologies as they develop their company and their technologies.
Siemens has been looking at startup innovation for more than 15 years with the TTB program. What is the driving motivation to look at robotics, and what sort of robotics are you looking at?
Siemens is a large global company. I’m with the Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Division; we develop software that supports companies that are developing products and developing manufacturing processes. Siemens Technology to Business, or TTB, is another organization within Siemens, and we’re collaborating together on the Frontier Program.
Siemens Technology To Business focuses on supporting startups and startup technology areas, innovation, and understanding how that innovation relates to Siemens.
Siemens has as long history in manufacturing technologies, in manufacturing automation technologies, and in lots of areas in the field of robotics. We’re looking forward to working with startups, and working with new innovations in robotics, to understand our own technology better, and to understand new technologies that are being developed.
Siemens is sponsoring the 2015 Robot Launch “Industrial Robotics Award”, offering the winners developer licenses for a broad range of Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software, access to its technology partner program, and other development resources valued at over $150K.
What advantages will startups gain working with Siemens in the Frontier Program?
Startups can really focus on rapid product development that’s enabled by developing on top of the Siemens PLM Software components and platform technologies. The access to the partner ecosystem and the extensive market reach to the installed base of Siemens PLM Software users help them to accelerate the go-to-market.
Through the collaboration with Siemens Technology To Business and Siemens PLM Software, they’ll be able to take advantage of some of the expertise in each of the organizations. Siemens PLM Software has a platform of software technologies that are being made available to the startups through the program, so one of the advantages is access to that technology.
They’ll also be members of the formal Siemens PLM Software Solution Partner Program, so they’ll get the benefit of that program along with the ability to collaborate with other members of that program – people developing technologies at different stages of their company lifecycles.
And they’ll be able to work with Siemens Technology To Business and the startup and innovation programs that Siemens TTB has.
So as well as gaining access to Siemens technology, you’re gaining access to a whole network of business expertise, mentorship and the partnerships that Siemens is developing?
Exactly. Through Siemens TTB there are a great deal of mentorship possibilities, and through the Siemens PLM Solution Program there are hundreds of software and technology partners that are part of the program and available for networking and consultation.
What are some of the companies that have joined Siemens Frontier Program to date?
The initial roll out of the program was in the area of additive manufacturing. Authentise is one example of the kind of company that has joined the program. They are innovating in the area of 3D printing. We’ve had some joint activities with them and have talked about the technologies they’re developing in a fair amount of detail.
Since we began rolling out into the field of robotics, we’ve had a number of interested companies, and one that we’ve already begun working with is Clearpath Robotics. They are looking at the Siemens PLM platform as one of the ways to expand their products.
How do robotics startups go about accessing the Siemens Frontier Program?
There’s an application on the Siemens Technology To Business website. If you go to www.ttb.siemens.com/frontier you can it, as well as a description of the program. You can also find a link to the Frontier Program on the Siemens PLM Partner area.
If you apply you’ll be contacted by people within Siemens so that we can better understand what you’re doing, and your application will be reviewed by a technology team. From there, if your interests align with Siemens’ interests, then we can start working together.
It’s great that Siemens is offering a prize in the Robot Launch competition. What do you think about the startups that have entered?
Of course! We’re looking forward to participating in the competition, and to offering a prize, which is a membership in the Frontier Program. Siemens TTB will be directly involved in looking at all the startups and we’re looking forward to being part of it!
Is there anything you’d like to say in conclusion?
We are excited to work in these new areas, and we are excited to work with the robotics community. We’re looking forward to seeing what new technologies innovative startups have and to sharing the technologies that Siemens PLM Software has.