The demand for commercial service robots is growing as a result of aging populations, labor shortages, and the desire for social distancing and contactless retail. Blue Ocean Robotics ApS today announced that it has received DKK 335 million ($50.94 million U.S.) from A.P. Møller Holding, the investment arm of international logistics company A.P. Møller-Maersk.
Blue Ocean Robotics, which described itself as a “robot venture factory,” said it develops and commercializes mobile robots to improve productivity, the working environment, sustainability, and the quality of customer service. The Odense, Denmark-based company has set up subsidiaries for each robot brand and serves the healthcare, hospitality, construction, and agriculture industries.
“Blue Ocean Robotics has developed several robot solutions that can automate and streamline critical and routine tasks, including in healthcare systems,” said Jan Nielsen, chief information officer at A.P. Møller Holding. “We look forward to following and supporting the company on its interesting and thriving journey.”
In a world with increasing labor shortages and a growing ageing population, demand for service robots that can assist companies and institutions is growing. This is why Blue Ocean Robotics, Europe’s largest manufacturer of service robots, has now strengthened its financial muscle, enabling the company to roll out its sustainable mobile robot solutions all over the world.
UVD disinfection robots part of global fleet
Blue Ocean Robotics said it plans to use its latest funding to accelerate its product development and global growth. The company's portfolio includes the GoBe telepresence robot, PTR Robots for safe patient transfer and rehabilitation, and UVD Robots for disinfection. Its customers include hospitals, schools, airports, hotel chains, grocery stores, shopping centers, and facilities management company ISS World Services A/S.
Claus Risager, CEO, Blue Ocean Robotics
“A.P. Møller Holding provides us with even more financial muscle to consolidate and expand the market share for all of our robots,” said Claus Risager, CEO of Blue Ocean. “The expansion of UVD Robots must be accelerated, and we’ve done this with the brands, PTR Robots and GoBe Robots, two new robots, which are now also being made available on the global market.”
“At the same time, by optimizing the physical robots, we are improving quality, production costs, and the opportunity to deliver top-quality service for all of our robots at the customers’ locations,” he said. “In addition, we are launching an online platform in 2022, which facilitates the entire customer experience in a cloud-based system, because selling service robots is not just about building and delivering robots.”
“Together with our sales and service partners, we also ensure that the robots are integrated in the customers’ workflows and ensure that the technology creates the maximum value at the customers’ locations,” Risager said.
Four new robots in development
Blue Ocean Robotics said it has developed all of the technological “building blocks” for mobile service robots, enabling it to realize new types of robots faster, cheaper and better than its competitors. Four new types of service robots are already on the drawing board, it said.
The company reported that its sales have grown twentyfold from 2018 to 2021. Established nine years ago, Blue Ocean Robotics is now a major player in the Danish robotics industry, with a turnover of almost DKK 200 million ($30.4 million) and a staff of 225 people.
As evidence of its success, Blue Ocean claimed that when organizations around the world choose automated disinfection to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus and other infections, they choose UVD Robots.
Blue Ocean Robotics said it is now valued at DKK 2.05 billion ($310 million) after its latest funding. In technical terms, A.P. Møller Holding's investment has been provided as a convertible loan, which can be exchanged for equity interest. Blue Ocean Robotics’ existing investors include venture fund Nordic Eye and L'Easy owner Niels Thorborg.
The Danish robotics cluster includes industry, investors, academia, and government supporters. Source: Blue Ocean Robotics
A.P. Møller Holding supports Danish robotics cluster
Although this is the first time that A.P. Møller Holding has chosen to invest in a robotics company, it can still be seen as something of a return to robotics. In the 1990s, shipowner Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller realised that automation was a necessity in the shipbuilding industry and therefore invested heavily in the research and development of robotics technology in Denmark.
Over the years, A.P. Møller and the foundation Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formaal has donated hundreds of millions to facilitate robotics research at the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark.
Among the companies that came out of that R&D were collaborative robotics leader Universal Robots A/S and Mobile Industrial Robots ApS.
“If it was not for A.P. Møller, Denmark would not have a robotics cluster or a robotics industry,” noted Risager. “Together with the local university in Odense, A.P. Møller has also made a huge difference as a driving force, with its generous donations for robotics research and development and also as a user of the developed solutions.
“It has been incredibly exciting and rewarding to be part of the robotics adventure in Odense since the 1980s, when I developed welding robots for the Odense Steel Shipyard,” he said.
The Danish robotics cluster currently consists of more than 300 robotics and automation companies.
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