Robot Lab challenge rewards French startups with funding and acceleration

May 13, 2016 // By Julien Happich
French incubator Robot Lab, dedicated to helping startups develop and commercialize innovative robotic applications, has launched its first nationwide challenge to reward the best projects in the fields of robotics, connected objects, artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D technology (sensing, conception, visualization, AR and VR).

With the Robot Lab Challenge, the incubator puts 400 000€ worth of acceleration money and services in order to encourage and support innovation among startups in the making (or less than two years old and with a turnover not exceeding 500k €) whose technology is aimed at improving people's daily lives.

"We are in a unique position to help startups in these fields", explained Alexandre Ichaï, director of the Robot Lab incubator he founded back in 2014. "We are the only incubator to gather a team of financial advisers and marketers together with true engineering experts in robotics and AI", he boasted.

Indeed, shortly after founding the Robot Lab, Ichaï acquired the C.R.I.I.F (Centre Robotique d'Ile de France) he is now presiding, annexing nearly 30 years of expertise in robotics, to ensure both technical support and a thorough understanding of the issues at stake when designing robotic and IoT applications.

In less than two years since its creation, the incubator has successfully helped 25 startups pass the million euros turnover, some of them raising up to five millions in funding.

Ichaï is a serial entrepreneur, having sold his first startup (a website delivering online stock trading advice) at the age of 18, he followed up with several estate agencies, founded a media acquisition company ReWorld Media (over 400 employees), as well as an investment fund, Network Finances, for internet related and digital media startups. The Robot Lab is another adventure Ichaï is confident will grow into a comfortable portfolio of shares within the next five years.

"We want to focus on quality rather than quantity, and because robotics requires a high level of expertise, the selection and evaluation process is costly. So we typically limit ourselves to one new startup per month but then we aim to raise that startup's value to around 30 or 40 million euros within 24 months (keeping 7% in shares).