Reliance Industries (RIL) has picked up a majority stake in robotics start-up Addverb Technologies for $132 million (approx. Rs 984 crore) as the energy-to-telecom conglomerate looks to automate its businesses.
Addverb has developed highly automated warehouses for RIL, Flipkart, HUL, Asian Paints, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, ITC, and Marico. With this investment, RIL will hold around 54 per cent stake in Addverb, becoming a strategic partner.
The Noida-based start-up had earlier raised around $11 million in Series A and pre-series funding round led by Jalaj Dani, co-promoter of Asian Paints, taking its total funding since inception to $143 million.
This funding round will accelerate the company’s expansion in Europe and the US and enable it to set up a large robotic manufacturing facility.
The facility will be completely automated and will propel India as a world leader in the robotic sector, said the start-up.
Addverb also plans to set up an innovation lab with bases in Europe, the US and India.
“Reliance was already a client. We had co-created and delivered highly automated warehouses for their Jio-Mart grocery business. This strategic partnership will help us leverage 5G, battery tech through new energy initiatives, advances in material sciences (carbon fibre) to deliver more advanced and affordable robots,” said Sangeet Kumar, CEO and co-founder, Addverb Technologies.
“With this round of funding, we are planning to deploy our robots across hospitals and airports,” said Kumar.
He said the way Reliance is scaling up warehouses, they required a dedicated partner. “These are massive warehouses for every segment of the business like grocery, fashion and lifestyle, pharma, general merchandise and furniture,” said Kumar. “These warehouses require automation and we will be able to test and implement many of our technologies at scale at some of these warehouses. We are also working very closely for their new business —solar — and on their petrochemical business.”
RIL is also betting big on e-commerce and, according to analysts, Addverb’s technology is expected to help Reliance scale up its online retail platforms such as Ajio and JioMart. This will also help RIL to provide automation solutions to firms in which it has investments such as delivery firm Dunzo and online pharma firm Netmeds.
Founded in June 2016, by Sangeet Kumar, Prateek Jain, Bir Singh, Satish Kumar Shukla and Amit Kumar, Addverb has 100 per cent subsidiaries in Singapore, Netherlands and Australia. It provides products across four verticals — robotics, automated storage and retrieval systems, picking, and software. The company was valued at about $285 million during its funding round last year in March, according to data platform Tracxn.
Addverb has provided robots to more than 100 customers, helping streamline their processes. Kumar said the start-up deploys 10 per cent of its revenue on R&D.
Addverb, which globally competes with players such as Kindred, GreyOrange, Locus Robotics, Seegrid and Geek+, said it is a rare hardware and software start-up from India which manufactures its own robots and develops the software to control these robots. This allows it to add unique and innovative features in its products and also provides for customisation and easy integration with the existing infrastructure and software systems of the customers.
It has exported robots to customers in countries like Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, Britain and Vietnam.
Addverb has the capacity to manufacture 10,000 robots of various kinds in a year. The manufacturing unit, which was unveiled in March 2021, is spread across 2.5 acres in Noida and has a capacity to produce all kinds of robots and co-bots including mobile robots, sorting robots, pallets shuttle and carton shuttle that helps in transporting and moving material inside factories and warehouses.
It has systems to coordinate the flow of material throughout the warehouse and control a fleet of robots based on different navigation modules.
With the new manufacturing facility — expected to be operational in FY23 — the company would have the capacity to produce 50,000 robots in a year.
The global robotics market was valued at $27.73 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $74.1 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 17.45 per cent, according to analysts.
Addverb expects to close the current financial year with 100 per cent growth in revenue at Rs 400 crore.