Semiconductor major Qualcomm Inc. has partnered with US-based TechStars to launch an accelerator for startups operating in the robotics and intelligent machines space. Named Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, it will select approximately 10 companies for its four-month programme to be held in Qualcomm's San Diego (Chile) campus.
Qualcomm has also earmarked over $1 million in aggregate funding for the participant startups, who will build next generation smart machines that combine mechanics and intelligent controls, computer vision, sensors, navigation and wireless communications.
Additionally, the participants will be offered business and technical insight on robotics. Upon completion, they will be able to leverage Techstars' network of over 3,000 entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and corporate partners.
The programme will commence in May 2015 and conclude in September 2015 with a Demo Day, where each team will have the opportunity to present their work to investors, industry leaders, and the community at large.
"The scale and pace of smartphone technology development is having a growing impact on many other technology sectors, and robotics is no exception," said Matt Grob, CTO of Qualcomm. "At Qualcomm, we work to provide entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide with the technologies that will help them transform the way we work, live and play, and this robotics accelerator is just one example of how we are trying to achieve that goal," he added.
Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator aligns with the firm's current efforts to develop more efficient robotics platforms with more enhanced connectivity built around its Snapdragon processor. These platforms aim to provide an integrated, low-power solution for multiple robotics applications.
For instance, Qualcomm has already announced work on Qualcomm Zeroth, a technology that enables robots and smartphones to excel at perceptual pattern matching tasks that can be executed fully on device.
Last month, Qualcomm demonstrated the Zeroth technology embedded in the Snapdragon Rover, a robot that learned to successfully classify different types of toys including specific models it had never seen before. It was able to then pick them up and sort them into different bins.
TechStars is a mentorship-driven startup accelerator founded by David Cohen and Foundry Group's managing director Brad Feld. TechStars' mentors include Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley, Tumblr CEO David Karp, HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah, and Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures. Some of the prominent graduates of the programme include SendGrid, Digital Ocean, Shuttlecloud and OnSwipe.
"We have already had a number of successful robotics companies coming out of Techstars and are excited to see what this new batch of companies will achieve given the support they'll receive from Qualcomm, particularly given the Company's deep expertise in mobile," said David Cohen, managing partner at Techstars. "Robotics is a hugely untapped frontier that is quickly becoming a focus for Techstars given recent tech advances that let machines be prototyped faster and easier than ever before," he added.