March 6, 2017

Startups face off at "Launch Pad" competition

Innovators in robotics, automation sectors will vie for $10,000 grand prize.

By DC Velocity Staff

If you want to see the future of robotics and automation, you'll have your chance on April 3. That's when some of the industry's most innovative young companies will introduce their transformative technologies to the world (and vie for a cash prize).

Their presentations will be the capstone of this year's Automate Launch Pad Competition, a contest that's open to startups from the robotics, machine vision, and motion control fields. The competition is designed to help launch some of the most promising young enterprises by offering them a chance to gain exposure for their technology and find new sources of funding, according to the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Association for Advancing Automation (A3), which organizes the event. In all, eight semifinalists will be invited to the competition, where they will have three minutes to pitch their technology to a panel of investors and automation experts.

This year's competition will be held at Chicago's McCormick Place during the Automate 2017 Exhibition and Conference, which is scheduled for April 3-6. (The show is co-located with the 2017 ProMat conference and trade show.) To sweeten the pot, A3 will provide the semifinalists with booth space on the Automate show floor, putting them in front of an expected audience of some 20,000. The winner also takes home a $10,000 grand prize.

The competition, which is free and open to Automate Show attendees, is sponsored by industrial giant GE and co-produced with Silicon Valley Robotics.

"Investment in the automation and robotics market is rising sharply, with a record 128 companies receiving funding of $1.95 billion in 2016—which is a 50-percent increase over the previous record-breaking year," A3 President Jeff Burnstein said in a release. "The Automate Launch Pad Competition is a great opportunity for innovative young companies to gain some extra funding and garner the attention of key players in the automation industry."

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