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University of Canterbury-born company Invert Robotics last night won the champion producer – manufacturer small enterprise trophy at the annual Champion Canterbury Business Awards at a big gala event in Christchurch.
Invert Robotics has invented wall-climbing inspection robots. The company was created through a partnership between the University of Canterbury (UC) and powerHouse Ventures which plans to make high-value businesses from university research.
Invert Robotics chief executive James Robertson said he was thrilled to receive the champion trophy last night.
``This is just great for us as we seek new business and it is brilliant for UC and Christchurch. It’s not only fantastic news for our company and UC but it’s great for our clients as well,’’ Robertson said today.
This was Invert Robotics third big award success this year. They won the annual ANZ Flying Start Business Plan’s supreme award and $56,000 in prizes last month.
Earlier this year, they won the New Zealand Hi-Tech Start –up of the Year Award. Their wall-climbing robots are the only ones in the world that can be used to inspect stainless steel structures in an industrial environment, outside a lab.
Invert Robotics is already earning revenue. The cutting edge tech company has inspected milk powder dryers for Westland dairy in its first major contract.
They were founded as a result of research performed at UC, the intellectual property for which was subsequently licensed from UC.
Robertson said they had been targeting NZ's largest export market (milk production) to ensure the market was large enough to sustain the company while they continued development of robots for even larger international markets such as the petrochemical storage industry.
``These industries face significant revenue losses if cracks go undetected in their equipment and perform regular inspections. By providing the safest, most accurate inspection method we will secure a recurring revenue stream.’’
Invert has spent the last 18 months developing a robot to service the dairy industry and over the next 12 months they plan to build market share using their technology.
``After we have become the market standard method for inspection of stainless dairy equipment we will look at entry to similar markets overseas. A portion of revenue will be used to develop robots for new markets, beginning with the petrochemical storage industry,’’ Robertson said.
``We have had lots of interest from construction and service companies in Australia, Asia, the USA and throughout the Middle East. There is a worldwide trend towards safer work practices and it is a no brainer to remove people from hazardous areas.’’
They have patents pending surrounding climbing robots and the adhesion mechanisms for them that they have developed either in-house or at UC.