Artimus Robotics secures $3.5 million in grants and contracts

Artimus Robotics Inc., a technology transfer spin-off spun off from research at the University of Colorado Boulder, has secured more than $3.5 million in grants and contracts that company officials say will allow it to expand its reach as well as its facilities and workforce.

Tim Morrissey, CEO of Artimus, told BizWest on Wednesday that the money will allow the startup to double its workforce from six to 12 and double its space from 2,400 square feet to 5,000 square feet by taking over an adjoining unit. in the building at 2985 Cour Sterling. The additional space was previously occupied by Colorado Processing, which moved to the Denver area.

Construction is already underway, he said, and should be completed within six weeks. The new space will house a cleanroom, high-end lab space and a mix of manufacturing and research areas, Morrissey said.

“Now Artimus needs more passionate and talented people and expanded state-of-the-art facilities to optimize and validate the technology” for its customers, Morrissey said. “I am extremely optimistic about the future of Artimus and look forward to unlocking the full potential of our team and our technology.

“We are very excited. We are very lucky,” he said. “We currently have over 24 months of track, which in today’s macro economy is a gift for a young company. So we are honored to have this opportunity and hope that in 24 months we will be a much different company.

More importantly, Morrissey said, the funding will enable Artimus to move from research to application-based development.

Artimus builds actuator components for industries such as defense, automotive, medical devices and automation. Its proprietary HASEL technology – the acronym refers to self-healing hydraulically boosted electrostatic actuators – “has already shown incredible potential in many applications,” he said, “and now this capital will facilitate the optimization of technology for the best applications”.

Basically, he explained, actuators convert electricity into motion “anywhere a person interacts with a robot.” HASEL technology works when electrostatic forces are applied to a flexible polymer pouch and dielectric liquid to cause a shape change in a flexible structure.

“The same way the muscles in your own body help you move, we help robots and different automation needs move,” Morrissey said.

Sources of funding include both private and public sources, such as direct US Navy contracts, government contracts, and grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, US Army, Department of ‘Energy and multiple commercial contracts from large companies.

Eleven federal agencies offer small business innovation research grants, and five of them also participate in STTR, the Small Business Technology Transfer Program.

Morrissey said most of the grants are SBIR, but one STTR grant came from the military in partnership with the research of Professor Sean Humbert of CU’s mechanical engineering department. This grant will fund the development of next-generation, highly controllable robotic actuators, Morrissey said, “making them smarter, making them more precise.”

SBIR and STTR scholarships are awarded directly to a company, but under the STTR, a company must subcontract to a research university. Under the SBIR, the Principal Investigator must be at least 51% employed in the company.

He said the strong US government support “exemplifies the dual-use potential of Artimus technology: leveraging technology development that benefits both government and commercial applications. The diversity of sources of this funding demonstrates the wide range of potential applications for HASEL actuation technology.

Artimus’ direct contract with the Navy is for the development of autonomous underwater robots that generate virtually no radiated noise while navigating the ocean, using HASEL actuators inspired by self-healing biology and the movement of fish that inhabit the waters where the vehicles will operate.

“Over the past two years, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with hundreds of potential commercial customers to explore the potential of HASEL actuators in their use cases,” said Eric Acome, Chief Technology Officer of Artimus . “This new funding, largely supported by the US government, directly addresses the most pressing needs of our current and future customers: improved reliability, performance and intelligence. Over the past several years, our incredible team of PhD researchers has developed an extremely solid understanding of the underlying mechanisms that affect the performance and functionality of HASEL actuation technology. With these funds, we have the resources we need to leverage our deep knowledge for the benefit of our clients. »

Artimus Robotics is also using the capital to support a business case for HASEL actuation technology. To compete with existing motion technologies such as pneumatics or servos, Morrissey said, the price of HASEL actuators must be low enough to justify their integration. Although HASEL actuators are made from inexpensive and environmentally friendly materials, he said, the actuator control electronics have uncommon components, so part of the funding will be allocated to the development of low-cost electronics for actuators.

The new company had won second place in CU’s New Venture Challenge in 2018, enrolled in CU’s Catalyze Accelerator Program, and participated in entrepreneurship and venture capital courses at CU Boulder. He has also participated in the local SAGE advisory network and the Boulder Small Business Development Center Tech Venture Accelerator.

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