Wootzano are a highly innovative technology company base in our NETPark Explorer 2 building. The robotics experts make robots more intelligent by giving them human skin.
This technology has many useful applications allowing robots to become more dexterous using machine learning to develop the level of dexterity needed to get to a point of practical application. The goal being to feel how humans feel with their skin so that they can do more complex tasks in a more intelligent manor.
One area in which Wootzano have concentrated their efforts is in the packing of fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables. Traditionally this sector has relied a lot on manual labour, often on a temporary basis which can be unreliable, but never more so that during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wootzano CEO Atif Syed said: “The reason why picking fresh produce hasn’t become automated is that robots lack the sense of real feelings. That requirement to automate picking fresh produce has been there for a long time. We saw the opportunity in the market and realised that a it was something that a skin could instantly cure.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic the demand for automations has skyrocketed. The NETPark based company have acquired orders to deliver hundreds of units to the industry by the end of the year, with thousands in the pipeline.
But that’s not the only application, there are more complex tasks that the talented team of engineers are working towards. An early stage project Wootzano are involved in aims to enable robots to walk on wind turbine plates to autonomously inspect maintain and repair wind turbines, providing a reliable, cost effective and safe way to maintain wind turbines.
The path from invention to commercialisation can be tough and Atif notes that collaboration is one of the most important aspects of this process.
The main reason Wootzano expanded to NETPark was the facilities available to them at the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), long term tenants and strategic partners of NETPark.
For any early stage tech start-up moving your technology from prototype to commercialisation can be a lengthy and extremely expensive exercise.
Atif continued: “Initially we came to NETPark to use the facilities available within the CPI’s National Printable Electronics Centre. We were scaling up at a very fast pace and needed the right equipment to commence early stage production helping us to prove and prototype our product.
When we were ready to scale up our operations NETPark Explorer provided the perfect place to grow our business and with future design and build opportunities on the park there is a clear succession path and room for us grow even further at NETPark.
NETPark Manager Janet Todd added: “Working with our strategic partners CPI and Durham University, NETPark provides the perfect ecosystem of infrastructure, support and facilities to help early stage tech companies develop their technologies. When those companies are ready to scale up, commercialise and move into larger accommodation we have the grow on space and support infrastructure in place to facilitate that growth.
Wootzano are an incredibly exciting company to have at NETPark. We look forward to working with and supporting their continued growth for many years to come.”
Atif concluded “County Durham is a wonderful place to live, we benefit from open green landscapes, advantageous cost of living and commuting times are substantially shorter too.”
Looking to the future Wootzano have plans to recruit more staff to fulfil the growth opportunities that have been presented in a rapidly expanding sector. They are looking to recruit the most talented engineers from across the world as well as locally utilising the existing skill sets of technicians honed throughout County Durham’s rich history in the manufacturing industry.
Find out more about Wootzano.