The money will be used to open a facility manufacturing robots in the Russian Far East and to invest in innovative artificial intelligence developments.
Promobot, Europe’s largest manufacturer of service robots from Russia, has attracted 200 mln roubles from the Far East High Technology Fund. According to the terms of the deal, the controlling interest in Promobot will be kept by the top management and co-founders of the company.
Promobot will invest a portion of this money in business development in the Russian Far East. The company will open a standalone division in Vladivostok to develop exterior features for Robo-C androids. Besides, the Far Eastern office will be engaged in research and development in the area of exterior modelling – in particular, Promobot will proceed with its experiments to create the most perfect replica of human skin, including micro wrinkles.
“It took us quite a while to prepare the deal, and therefore, we know exactly where the money will go. At present, a major part of business development is based on the Fund’s investments: opening of the company’s new establishment (including the production facility), R&D activities, development of androids. We have developed a common flexible approach to the applications of service robots with our partners from the Fund: we are working in concert on a major package of solutions that are based on Promobot current and future technologies and that we are about to present to the world,” Alexey Yuzhakov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Promobot, said.
The person to take charge of Promobot office in the Far East is Petr Chegodaev, a Russian sculptor and designer known for his involvement in the creation of special effects for such Russian blockbusters as Flight Crew and The Spacewalker.
“Robotics is among the priority investment areas for the Fund. We expect a new phase of market growth and expansion of robotics applications in practice: service robots make it possible to reduce interpersonal contacts in crowded places, for instance, in multi-purpose centres and banks or ensure telediagnostics, which opens a new window of opportunities in the context of the pandemic.
Promobot is a noticeable market player, a profitable hi-tech business with a highly competent and motivated team that responds to market preferences promptly. For instance, the company has already commercialised non-touch temperature measurement terminals and robots for non-touch diagnostics of human health, said Ruslan Sarkisov, CEO of the Far East High Technology Fund. Foreign markets account for 65% of total sales. This implies that the company has already proved its strong export potential and acts as an international agent in its market rather than merely as a local agent.”
In addition, the investment will be used to develop the new Promobot AI-based dialogue system indistinguishable from a human being and elaborate the applications of Promobot V.4 service robot — the company’s flagship.
“As early as this summer, we will present the new Promobot dialogue system – it will be based on our own framework, Yuzhakov says. All stages of the human–robot conversation starting from choice of the subject up to identification of the answer will be based on neural networks. This is an unparalleled product for the global market of robotics.”
The FEHTF and Promobot started the investment talks in February last year. In June 2019, the parties signed the memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Promobot is the fifth portfolio company of the Fund. Besides, the Fund’s investment portfolio includes two companies from the Russian Far East – Visitech LLC and Hotlead LLC, a
manufacturer of Multikubik portable projectors (Cinemood), and a manufacturer of supercapacitors and hybrid storage units for transport and energy facilities (Titan Power Solutions). The total amount of funds allocated and approved for financing exceeds 700 mln roubles.
Promobot was founded in 2015 in Perm. It secured the status of Skolkovo resident the same year. Today, Promobot is Europe’s largest manufacturer of self-contained service robots. Promobots operate in 38 countries worldwide as administrators, promoters, advisors, guides, and doormen, replacing or supplementing humans. Promobot robots may be seen in Sberbank, Museum of Contemporary Russian History, multi-purpose centres, Baltimore/Washington Airport, and Dubai Mall. The company manufactures and develops all of its products in Russia.
The Far East High Technology Fund was created in August 2018 by the Far East and Arctic Region Development Fund (forms part of VEB.RF), RVC and Rusnano.
The Fund invests in promising hi-tech projects and localisation projects in the Russian Far East. The Fund’s capital is 5 bln roubles.