Belgian computer vision startup Robovision expands to the US to address labor shortages

As labor shortages become a pressing issue, industries such as manufacturing and agriculture are turning to AI for automation.

Computer vision startups are seizing this opportunity by offering solutions for data collection, crop monitoring, and harvesting. Robots equipped with vision are now making their way into various fields.

However, the challenge lies in the implementation of these solutions. If they are not user-friendly, they may not be effectively utilized.

Belgian startup Robovision has tackled this challenge by creating a "no-code" computer vision AI platform that simplifies the process for businesses outside of the tech industry. While Robovision does not manufacture robots, it collaborates with robotics companies to enhance AI-enabled automation.

Robovision's platform allows customers to upload data, label it, test models, and deploy them for production without the need for software developers or data scientists. The platform offers a wide range of applications, from fruit recognition on a large scale to fault detection in electrical components and even stem cutting for roses.

Image Credits: Robovision

With its existing customer base in 45 countries, Robovision is now expanding to the U.S. following a significant funding round. The $42 million Series A funding is co-led by Astanor Ventures and Target Global, with the aim of capturing the interest of industrial and agribusiness customers in the expansive U.S. market.

This funding round brings Robovision's post-money valuation to $180 million, with a total of $65 million raised in equity funding, including two converted notes. The founders and staff still retain more than 50% ownership of the company, according to Florian Hendrickx, the chief growth officer.

What is the point?

Expanding into different sectors poses a challenge for Robovision in terms of messaging and go-to-market strategy. However, the company leverages its learnings and experiments across applications. For instance, its deep learning technology developed for disease detection in tulips was adapted for detecting lung diseases during the COVID-19 crisis.

Founded in 2012 as a consultancy studio, Robovision later shifted to a B2B platform model, attracting venture capital investors. While its initial success was in agtech, other verticals such as life sciences and tech are driving faster growth for the company.

Robovision's impact in agtech, where it helps ISO Group plant billions of tulips annually, has been significant. However, the company sees industrial manufacturing as the future growth driver, with clients like Hitachi using its platform for semiconductor wafer production.

Apple's acquisition of DarwinAI, a manufacturing oversight AI startup, underscores the increasing interest in industrial automation. Robovision's flexible toolbox for diverse industrial applications aligns with this trend, offering more than just point solutions.

From Ghent to the world

While Robovision initially raised capital from Dutch and Belgian investors through convertible notes, it sought broader investment sources for its recent funding round. The company's Belgian roots have played a vital role in its success, with a team comprising talented individuals from Ghent University.

To meet the demand for low latency and faster delivery in certain environments, Robovision introduced Robovision Edge, reimagining its computer vision tools' architecture. In a competitive global market, innovation and productivity are essential for success, according to Target Global's Bao-Y Van Cong.