Thursday, October 23, 2014

Governmental Funding of Strategic Robotic Projects

Posted on 08/08/14 by Frank Tobe

Many governments have determined that robotics will play a significant role in contributing to their economy and have set up projects to fund bottlenecks to speed up the process.

Japan, the EU, France, the UK, and to a lesser extent, the US are all doing this.

Sebastian Cagnon, a French behavior architect at Aldebaran Robotics who blogs at About Robots, recapped the following governmental programs. I am excerpting and editing with his permission.

These last few months have seen so many announcements from countries investing in robotics with head spinning numbers, it gave me the idea to sum it all up in this post.

The wave started with the EU announcing a huge €2.8 billion investment program for the next 7 years. The EU Commission itself is investing €700M, and the rest is coming from the industry. The goal is to invest in every robotics sector, from industrial robots to domestic, from the fields to space, etc...

Another two announcements came from Japan: the announcement of Pepper by Softbank and Aldebaran (although not really a governmental funding project), and the Japanese government's announcement that the future of Japan would depend on robots.

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, announced on June 19th funding to make a "robot revolution."  [You can see Sebastian at work with Pepper in the article's news photo.] The funding sets up a task force to further develop Japan's robot manufacturers and help them increase their revenues to $24 billion by 2020. In addition, Abe calls for a Robotics Olympics to be held at the same time as the 2020 Olympics being held in Japan.

Then came the British government on July 1st announcing RAS 2020. You can see here that they went big with the numbers, with $257M of investment planned for robotics! Their program's focus is to create the conditions for a thriving robotics industry through a series of stimulating and support initiatives.

Next in line are the French. When we are not in strike, we make robots too! Our French Minister Arnaud Montebourg announced the creation of a private fund with €80M (~$108M) to invest in companies. The business minded robolutioner Bruno Bonnell is piloting the project. Robolution Capital plans to invest in companies and start-ups - even to front the early stages of development.

Before this rush of announcements, the US had announced in 2011 $500M invested in automation robots as part of a $2.2 billion Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, and Korea went for $316M in 2012!

But Korea just announced a new $2.7 billion plan in response to the American, Japanese and EU plans. Their new plan is to help existing robotics businesses increase their sales as well as investing in disaster recover and search and rescue robots and eldercare robots.

We are way past the MULTI-BILLION dollars in investments by now.

Thanks Sebastian.

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About the author: Frank Tobe

Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report. After selling his business and retiring from 25+ years as computer direct marketing and materials and consulting to the Democratic National Committee and major presidential, senatorial, congressional, mayoral campaigns and initiatives all across the U.S., Canada and internationally, he has energetically pursued a new career in researching and investing in robotics.

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