Insights from Drones, Robotics & Ai Summit

Nov 17, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments



The value of being in an accelerator is that it is not just a program, it is an ecosystem. We are thrilled to belong to the GENIUS NY program and be affiliated with ff Venture Capital. Recently our Chief Research Officer Andy Kurtz and Director of Marketing Jennifer Sertl attended the ff Venture Capital Drone, Robotics and AI Summit held in Manhattan. Here are a few key themes of the experience.

Innovating Across Industries: Insights from Leading Tech Entrepreneurs 

In a rapidly evolving tech landscape, innovative solutions are reshaping drones and robotics. At the recent ffVC Drones, Robotics & AI Summit we got to hear from a few of the ffVC portfolio companies on their growth strategy. Here are a few of their insights.  

ffVC Portfolio Companies with Head of Platform Charlotte Japp – with permission ffVC

Addressing Industry Challenges with Innovative Solutions 

  • Skycatch: Revolutionizing mining and construction with drone technology and software solutions. 
  • Cambrian Intelligence: Enhancing manufacturing with intelligent robotic systems for complex tasks. 
  • Tensorflight: Transforming property risk assessment in insurance using AI and computer vision. 

Forming Strategic Partnerships 

  • The importance of building genuine, multi-faceted relationships in the business sector. 
  • Tips on navigating enterprise dynamics and leveraging employee resource groups for networking. 

Fundraising and Investor Relations 

  • The journey of securing funding and the role of persistence in overcoming rejection. 
  • The value of investor feedback and the importance of adapting pitches based on market needs. 

Navigating Enterprise Sales and Customer Relationships 

  • Strategies for managing long enterprise sales cycles and maintaining strong customer relationships. 
  • The significance of being proactive and adaptive in high-stakes business situations. 

Leveraging Investor Support and Feedback 

  • How entrepreneurs can effectively utilize investor networks and support for business growth. 
  • Encouraging investors to provide constructive feedback and ongoing mentorship. 

Adaptability, persistence, and a deep understanding of industry challenges are essential for all levels of business maturity.

The Cutting Edge of Robotics, AI, and Industrial Automation: Insights from Industry Experts 

The world of robotics, AI, and industrial automation is rapidly evolving, bringing transformative changes across various sectors. We had the opportunity to hear from leaders in this space, offering valuable insights into their ventures and funding the broader industry landscape. 

Investor Panel Led by ffVC Managing Director & Partner Oliver Mitchell – with permission ffVC

Cybernetics Ventures: Fostering Early Stage Innovations 

Sasha Jostrom-Reiser, principal at Cybernetics Ventures, highlighted their early-stage focus on robotics, AI, and industrial automation. With a keen interest in construction, healthcare, manufacturing, and logistics, Cybernetics Ventures aims to support and accelerate the growth of innovative startups in these domains. The venture’s origin story, rooted in overcoming funding challenges faced by robotics companies, underlines their commitment to nurturing early-stage ventures both in the US and globally. 

Micron Ventures: Powering AI and Tech Advancements 

Jason Hong from Micron Ventures, the venture arm of a leading semi-conductor company, shed light on their AI-centric approach. With significant investments planned in industrial 4.0, mobility, and green initiatives, Micron Ventures aims to drive innovation in memory and storage technologies, crucial for AI advancement. Micron Ventures, will be investing $200M in deep tech startups with its Fund II. Micron’s Fund II builds on the success of the initial AI-focused Fund I by targeting broader deep tech innovations. 

F-Prime Capital : Bridging Healthcare and Technology 

Betsy Mulé  from F-Prime Capital introduced their dual focus on healthcare and technology. With a substantial portfolio in therapeutics and drug discovery, F-Prime Capital also invests in hardware, particularly in vertical robotics applied to specific industries. Their approach emphasizes the importance of targeting the right investors, especially in the hardware sector, where the journey to market can be more complex and capital-intensive than software. 

Collaboration and Strategic Partnerships: A Path Forward 

The panel underscored the importance of strategic partnerships and choosing the right investors, especially in the hardware and robotics domain. They highlighted the need for startups to be scrappy, conserving capital, and extending their runway. Additionally, they stressed the significance of early collaboration with key validated customers, which can also include investors. These partnerships not only offer validation but can accelerate market entry and eventual exit strategies. 

The Evolving Technology Landscape: Why Now Is Different 

A key point of discussion was why the current era is different for AI and robotics technologies. Factors such as reduced costs of hardware and the advent of more accessible AI models have lowered entry barriers, making robotics and automation ventures more viable than ever. Moreover, government initiatives like the CHIPS Act are expected to further fuel innovation by incentivizing domestic production and creating ecosystems supportive of technological advancements. The conversation also turned towards the importance of building a cohesive ecosystem encompassing investors, exit partners, entrepreneurs, and corporate entities. Such a collaborative environment not only nurtures innovation but also provides a platform for ventures to thrive and scale. 

The emphasis on strategic partnerships, understanding the changing technology landscape, and the importance of building a supportive ecosystem are key takeaways for anyone looking to navigate this dynamic field successfully. 

Innovating Defense: Bridging the Gap Between Technology and National Security 

In an era where technology rapidly evolves and geopolitical tensions rise, the intersection between defense, innovation, and private sector collaboration is more critical than ever.

Bridging the Gap Between Technology & National Security Panel led by Grant Fox – with permission ffVC

The Role of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy

Grant Fox of the National Security Innovation Network highlighted the historic changes brought about by AI and autonomy. He drews parallels between the internet’s evolution and current technological advancements, stressing the significance of AI in defense applications. 

The Intersection of Technology and Manufacturing

Alice Globus, CFO of Nanotronics delved into the use of AI in optimizing and securing manufacturing processes. She discussed the company’s focus on artificial intelligence for infrastructure, emphasizing its role in enhancing efficiency and security: 

  • The future of semiconductor manufacturing and the impact of CHIPS ACT  
  • The role of AI in overcoming manufacturing limitations 
  • The importance of supply chain management to stay ahead in this rapidly evolving landscape  

The Evolution of Drone Technology

Shane Skopak of Dzyne Technology shared insights on the evolution of drone technology and its impact on defense strategies. He highlighted the shift towards non-traditional, cost-effective solutions and the challenges posed by rapid technological advancements. 

Counter-Drone Technologies and Urban Security

Bhargov Patel from the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Division discussed the testing and evaluation of counter-drone technologies. He explained the importance of these technologies in urban security and the challenges in adapting them for state and local first res 

The panel’s insights underscored the critical role of innovation, AI, and private-sector collaboration in shaping the future of national defense. As technology continues to advance, it is imperative for defense strategies to evolve accordingly, ensuring a robust and effective response to emerging global challenges.  Circle Optics is part of the National Security Innovation Network.

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