May 16, 2023

Swiss-Made ANYbotics takes on the world: Why we invested in the cutting-edge robotics company

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Embarking on a journey that would change the course of industrial inspection robotics, we first crossed paths with ANYbotics at Slush in 2019. With industrial tech as a thematic focus area for us at NGP Capital, we recognized the market opportunity and exceptional technology that the team was building.

While that round was too early for us, we kept in touch with Fredrik and Péter over the years. Fast forward to 2023 and the ANYbotics team has transformed itself from a seed-stage deep tech company to a market leader in autonomous industrial inspection robotics. Today, we are thrilled to announce that we are co-leading ANYbotics’ $50M Series B round along with Walden Catalyst and look forward to working with the team on building a next-generation category leader in industrial inspection robotics!

Defining a new robotics category

For decades, the field of robotics was centered around fixed robot arms that were limited in their mobility. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that mobile robotics for logistics started to gain real traction. For instance, break-out companies in warehouse automation like Exotec and Locus, were founded in 2015 and 2014 respectively. 

Fueled by a continued cost decline and performance improvement of underlying technologies such as sensors, AI and interoperability, the market has evolved rapidly during the past few years, unlocking more unstructured and collaborative use cases. This represents a significant contrast to the first wave of robotics that were all about high, standardized volumes in isolated environments.

Inspection of complex industrial facilities such as oil & gas plants, chemical plants and mines represents the next frontier of robotics adoption. These industries face challenges like increasing structural workforce shortages, environmental and safety-related imperatives, and the need to drive operational efficiency through digitization. The adoption of mobile robotics has been held back by a lack of solutions that:

  1. Meet mobility and autonomy requirements required for complex process areas like negotiating industrial stairs and adjusting to changing environments.
  2. Can operate in rough conditions including dust, water, and extreme temperatures and comply with industry certification standards for usage in highly regulated environments.
  3. Integrate with existing digital infrastructure for a seamless customer experience.

In short, the market has lacked the right product to solve the problem.

Building product and early market leadership

With roots in a world-class robotics lab at ETH Zurich, the ANYbotics team has been highly methodical in building a best-in-class solution in close partnership with their customers from day one. Today, ANYbotics provides an end-to-end inspection solution based on their four-legged autonomous robot, ANYmal. The vertically integrated approach means that the robots provide all functionality out of the box and are ready to start working within a short time. ANYbotics’ solution features:

  1. Leading mobility & autonomy to safely navigate industrial environments.
  2. Natively integrated payloads for visual inspection, gas sensing and thermal anomaly detection, and more.
  3. Integrated edge-based analytics software for real-time decision-making.
  4. Integrations with digital twin platforms and end-users’ asset and maintenance management systems.      
  5. Last but not least, industrial grade compliance including the world’s only Ex-certification for legged robots   
ANYbotics four-legged autonomous robot, ANYmal in action.

The focus on end-to-end solutions is a prerequisite for successful deployment and commercial adoption. Natively integrated payloads mean that the robot can complete tasks of a wide variety and the mobility capabilities enables the robot to go almost anywhere that a human can. We are strong believers in complexity abstraction as a must-have in industrial markets, and particularly so if the technology maturity is on the early side. ANYbotics ability to operate in the most complex parts of industrial facilities is in our view testament that the vertically integrated technology removes critical friction points for robotics adoption thanks to its versatile capabilities.

Fueling the great convergence

At NGP Capital, we believe that the next generation of iconic companies will emerge from the merging of physical and virtual worlds. In terms of robotics, we inherently believe that next-generation robotics technologies will be collaborative by nature. ANYbotics is an exciting example of a company that plays a central role in exemplifying this thesis. More importantly, the company has moved beyond solving a robotics problem to building the most versatile robotics platform for industrial inspection. We’ve been immensely impressed by the breadth and the quality of the team that has resulted in one of the most robust organizations that we have seen for a series B stage company.

Building a global customer base

Shifting from a technology-driven organization to an equally commercially focused organization is a repeat challenge that we see among robotics companies. When we reconnected with the ANYbotics team earlier this year, it was clear that ANYbotics had hit a commercial inflection point with impressive customer references like Petronas, Siemens, Outokumpu, Vale, and many more.

ANYbotics marks our first vertically integrated robotics investment at NGP Capital. It has, however, been a long time coming as we have evaluated more than a hundred robotics companies over the years as part of our focus on industrial tech.

Congratulations to the ANYbotics team on the Series B milestone and welcome to the NGP Capital portfolio! We are thrilled to team up with Walden Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, Swisscom Ventures, Aramco Ventures, and Swisscanto to support the ANYbotics team in building a category-defining company.