APEX Ventures, Bayern Kapital and HTGF invest in robotics start-up sewts

Photo: The SEWTS Team (from left): Tim Doerks, Till Rickert and Alex­an­der Bley
4. May 2021

Munich / Bonn / Vienna — Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence for the textile indus­try: The robo­tics start-up sewts has closed a seed finan­cing round tota­ling seven figu­res. sewts is deve­lo­ping a soft­­ware-as-a-service (SaaS) solu­tion that helps indus­trial compa­nies auto­mate proces­ses in which easily deform­a­ble mate­ri­als are proces­sed, for example texti­les or films. Initi­ally, the tech­no­logy will be used in indus­trial laundry lines; in the long term, cross-sector appli­ca­ti­ons are plan­ned in the textile indus­try as well as in the high-tech sector. APEX Ventures, Bayern Kapi­tal and High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) parti­ci­pa­ted in the round. The exis­ting inves­tor Initia­tive for Indus­trial Inno­va­tors and a consor­tium of expe­ri­en­ced busi­ness angels have also confir­med their commitments.

In the manu­fac­tu­ring and proces­sing indus­tries, there are many robo­tics and AI-based solu­ti­ons for hand­ling solid, dimen­sio­nally stable raw mate­ri­als such as metals. The auto­ma­tion of manu­fac­tu­ring or assem­bly proces­ses in which, on the other hand, easily deform­a­ble mate­ri­als are proces­sed still poses enor­mous problems for compu­ters and image proces­sing programs today, because the demands on the requi­red compu­ting power are too great. Curr­ently avail­able robots and grip­ping systems can there­fore only inade­qua­tely perform such simple opera­ti­ons for humans, such as grip­ping a towel or piece of clot­hing. Foun­ded in 2019, Munich-based sewts GmbH and its appro­xi­mately 20 employees have there­fore deve­lo­ped inno­va­tive control and image proces­sing soft­ware that enab­les robots to predict the beha­vior of shape-unsta­­ble mate­ri­als during grip­ping in real time based on intel­li­gent algo­rithms deve­lo­ped in-house. At the core of the tech­no­logy is a unique approach to genera­ting arti­fi­cial trai­ning data for AI, which is based on high-precision, so-called finite element method (FEM) simu­la­ti­ons. With the help of this novel approach, sewts can auto­mate a wide range of indus­trial proces­ses that were previously tech­ni­cally unfea­si­ble — such as the hand­ling of texti­les or carbon fiber and semi-finis­hed products.

Wide range of applications

Indus­trial laund­ries, for example, bene­fit from this tech­no­logy: indi­vi­dual steps, such as sorting dirty texti­les or placing laundry in folding machi­nes, still have to be carried out there by hand. Many laund­ries can hardly find employees for this stre­nuous work. With sewts, this step can be auto­ma­ted by robots. In the long term, this should incre­ase the produc­ti­vity of a textile washing line by up to 100 percent, while allowing the laundry to use its person­nel capa­ci­ties more effectively.

The areas of appli­ca­tion for this inno­va­tive tech­no­logy are constantly expan­ding and are already opening up comple­tely new produc­tion possi­bi­li­ties in the textile indus­try, for example in the manu­fac­ture of clot­hing. In the long term, the ambi­ti­ons of the three foun­ders Alex­an­der Bley, Tim Doerks and Till Rickert also include opening up other manu­fac­tu­ring sectors, for example in the proces­sing of films and foams. They plan to invest the new finan­cial resour­ces in the further deve­lo­p­ment of their soft­ware into a series product, the expan­sion of the deve­lo­p­ment team and the acqui­si­tion of medium and long-term inte­gra­tion and sales partners.

“We are very plea­sed to have convin­ced capi­­tal-strong and tech­no­lo­gi­cally savvy inves­tors of our disrup­tive tech­no­logy. Their cross-indus­­try market exper­tise will be of great help to us on our way to series produc­tion,” says sewts co-foun­­­der and co-mana­­ging direc­tor Alex­an­der Bley.

Dr. Wolf­gang Neubert, part­ner at APEX Ventures, says: “We were parti­cu­larly impres­sed in the team by the combi­na­tion of high profes­sio­nal exper­tise, tech­ni­cal crea­ti­vity and the ability to think quickly into indus­trial appli­ca­ti­ons of the sewts tech­no­logy and derive their econo­mic impact.”

Dr. Georg Ried, Mana­ging Direc­tor of Bayern Kapi­tal, says: “sewts has the poten­tial to signi­fi­cantly simplify proces­ses in a wide range of indus­tries that could not previously be auto­ma­ted — a scala­ble tech­no­logy from which many compa­nies could bene­fit, parti­cu­larly in the indus­trial nation of Germany, but also beyond. An exci­ting inno­va­tion project in the field of robo­tics that we are happy to support in its upco­m­ing growth steps.”

Johan­nes Weber, invest­ment mana­ger at High-Tech Grün­der­fonds, says: “With deep lear­ning algo­rithms, sewts enab­les the sophisti­ca­ted hand­ling of texti­les with indus­trial robots for the first time. Through the scala­ble SaaS busi­ness model, we see high poten­tial to address broad user groups and look forward to suppor­ting the start-up on this path.”

About sewts
Foun­ded in 2019, Munich-based sewts GmbH is a provi­der of inno­va­tive control and image proces­sing soft­ware that pushes the bounda­ries of robo­tics in the proces­sing of easily deform­a­ble mate­ri­als. sewts has deve­lo­ped a unique tech­no­logy that uses high-precision finite element method (FEM) simu­la­ti­ons to effi­ci­ently train machine lear­ning algo­rithms. The intel­li­gent soft­ware solu­tion enab­les count­less appli­ca­ti­ons in indus­trial auto­ma­tion, such as the proces­sing of texti­les in indus­trial laund­ries or the produc­tion of clot­hing. The company is backed by APEX Ventures, Bayern Kapi­tal, High-Tech Grün­der­fonds, Initia­tive for Indus­trial Inno­va­tors and a number of highly expe­ri­en­ced busi­ness angels.

About APEX Ventures
APEX Ventures is a Euro­pean venture capi­tal inves­tor focu­sing on deep-tech start-ups with unique IP and extra­or­di­nary market poten­tial. APEX Ventures has comple­ted nume­rous invest­ments with its funds in Europe as well as in the U.S., inclu­ding in the areas of AI for medi­cal appli­ca­ti­ons, quan­tum and laser tech­no­logy, auto­no­mous mobi­lity, compu­­ter-based vision, and digi­tal foren­sics. APEX Ventures is in close colla­bo­ra­tion with the foun­ding teams to work toge­ther on go-to-market stra­te­gies and acce­le­rate inter­na­tio­nal growth. For an effec­tive selec­tion of talen­ted teams and their best possi­ble support, APEX Ventures is in close exchange with acade­mic insti­tu­ti­ons, entre­pre­neurs­hip programs and other inter­na­tio­nal VC part­ners.

About High-Tech Gründerfonds
The seed inves­tor High-Tech Grün­der­fonds (HTGF) finan­ces tech­no­logy start-ups with growth poten­tial. With a volume of around EUR 900 million spread across three funds and an inter­na­tio­nal part­ner network, HTGF has suppor­ted more than 600 start-ups since 2005. His team of expe­ri­en­ced invest­ment mana­gers and start-up experts supports the young compa­nies with know-how, entre­pre­neu­rial spirit and passion. The focus is on high-tech start-ups in the fields of digi­tal tech, indus­trial tech, life scien­ces, chemi­stry and rela­ted busi­ness areas. Almost EUR 3 billion in capi­tal has been inves­ted in the HTGF port­fo­lio by exter­nal inves­tors in more than 1,700 follow-on finan­cing rounds to date. In addi­tion, the fund has already success­fully sold shares in more than 120 compa­nies.

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