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International investment

Tech startup with Memorial roots announces Chinese partnership

Research |

By Jeff Green

A local startup company with strong ties to Memorial University has found a significant investor to help bring its homegrown technology to the world market.

Agile Sensor Technologies Inc. has announced a strategic partnership with Gaitech International Limited of Shanghai, China.

Agile is currently a client of the Genesis Centre, Memorial’s business incubator for technology-based ventures with high-growth potential. The company develops robotics technologies for the industrial automation and aerospace and defence markets. The partnership with Gaitech includes a strategic investment in Agile and an agreement to co-develop new products for distribution in the global robotics market.

“We’re very excited about this new partnership,” said Brian Terry, president and CEO, Agile. “Gaitech’s investment enables us to accelerate growth and launch our technology into international markets. Our collaboration with Gaitech on product development will result not only in new products, but also in rapid knowledge transfer for our team.”

Company formed in 2014

As envisioned in the original Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF) project, the company’s roots date back to late 2014 when it was formed to commercialize technologies resulting from the AIF project in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. In addition to support from ACOA, the R&D was initiated as a result of a grant from The Boeing Company and was co-funded by the Research & Development Corporation and the provincial Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development. Memorial holds a small equity interest in Agile and works closely with the company to help facilitate its success.

From left are Agile employees Brian Terry, president and CEO; Michael Harvey, vice-president (sales and marketing); and Teng Wang, applications engineer at a drone trade show in Las Vegas, NV, in 2015.
From left are Agile employees Brian Terry, Michael Harvey and Teng Wang at a drone trade show in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2015.
Photo: Submitted

Agile and Gaitech have already started plans for their first joint project, to produce a plug-and-play development platform for robot makers, which will allow companies to simplify robot development and change the way they design and manufacture products.

“We plan to invest locally and expand our sales and engineering teams, with the goal of accelerating sales of our motor control system and launching our flight stabilization system, smart camera and patented sensor aiming devices,” said Mr. Terry. “These products will change the way companies develop their robots to include our highly reliable, fast and dynamic components.”

Global growth

“This is a strategic investment for us,” said Jenssen Chang, CEO, Gaitech. “We believe that the combination of Agile’s state-of-the-art FPGA (field-programmable gate array) technologies with our expertise in ROS (robot operating system) will result in several exciting new products for the high-growth global robotics market.”

Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research), and member of the Genesis Centre’s board of directors, congratulated Agile for securing the international partnership with Gaitech.

“Through our new Technology Transfer and Commercialization Strategy, Memorial is contributing to the diversification and strength of the provincial economy, injecting new opportunities to meet the business needs of tomorrow around the world,” said Dr. Marceau. “Agile is a strong example of how Memorial is helping local companies get technology into the international marketplace. I offer the company my very best wishes in taking its technologies to market.”

About Agile
Agile Sensor Technologies Inc. produces components for the robotics market, which includes drones and other types of unmanned vehicles. The company was founded in 2014 to develop robotics-focused technologies and to commercialize technologies developed during a multi-year project carried out at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The company introduced its first product – a motor control system for drones – in December 2015 and plans to achieve sales of its drone flight stabilization system, “smart” camera and patented sensor aiming devices in 2016.

About Gaitech
Gaitech International Ltd. is an innovative robotics solution provider based in Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei and Shanghai. Gaitech is integrating, distributing, manufacturing and supporting a wide range of cutting-edge robotics products based on ROS and has partnered globally with Shadow, Rethink Robotics, Fetch Robotics, Kinova, Robotnik, Clearpath, Stanley Innovation and other key companies in this field. Being the licensed manufacturer of ROS Educational Kit, Gaitech is active in the promotion and education of ROS in Asia.

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