AI is no longer an exclusive feature. The most innovative and visionary research-based A-gamers in the startup scene tend to compete over the beauty, speed, and accuracy of algorithms. “Believe it or not, the market is not oversaturated with that - there is still an increasing demand for AI-empowered robotic solutions, we have not yet seen it at its peak and I believe it will take some 5 years to get there”, says Mar Masulli, the co-founder of “Bitmetrics”, a computer vision startup, developing solutions for innovation-driven small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Precision is the new normal in AI
Originally from Argentina, she leads the internationally diverse team of 6, data analysts and robotics engineers, located in Barcelona, Spain. Yet, she is the only woman representing the robotics sector, but, as Mar points out, that is the way to be a role model for her 5-years old daughter. Her motto? Fight one crisis at a time and value the team's resources. “BitMetrics” experience aligns with the European deep-tech startups that value lessons learned during the Pandemics and unpeaceful time. “Scale-up Champions” community invited Barcelona-located computer-vision company to discover business scaling opportunities in other EU countries.
“Increasing computing power and open data sets have influenced the favorable conditions for AI-based solutions. It blossoms now and Europe is making progress in advanced manufacturing, yet new challenges arise. Let aside the turbulent times, manufacturers are facing a labor shortage. Also, the reality of older power plants may seem surreal, but a lot of them still don’t even have an internet connection”, says Mar.
Installed robotic solutions operate under deterministic conditions. A robot can only do what it is programmed to do, therefore, if a condition changes in the scene where it operates, the program cannot adapt to it and the process stops. “We are valued because of algorithms’ accuracy. Let’s say - robots become more sensitive and intelligent in a way that allows them to operate smoothly and adapt to changing environments, textures, materials”, explains the startup co-founder.
Taking SMEs to the spotlight
The problem is that very often SMEs are left aside because this type of automation is too complex or too expensive for them to incorporate. But technology can help democratize this access to intelligent automation previously reserved only for big corporations. “Bitmetrics” is here to provide SMEs with the technology that will allow them to automate vision-based processes.
“Where robotics is progressing at a different pace, a whole ecosystem is nurturing the possibilities for all the relevant parties to cooperate. Corporates, universities, and startups work together to challenge existing technology and come up with exciting innovations that will shape the future of automation”, explains Mar Masulli.
The team not only wants to make an impact and be a part of this synergy but also looks for new partners abroad. Denmark seemed a good fit and for this reason, the team engaged in the “Scale-up Champions” Investment Readiness programme. During the programme she was matched with Kaunas Science and Technology Park located business consultant and marketing strategist Inga Uus. Inga herself spent years living and working in the creative industry and R&D sector in Denmark. As a market’s insider’s know-how and relations with active startup communities empowered “BitMetrics” to scout for new opportunities to test their value proposition.
A step forward to Denmark
This May the team applied to participate in “Scale-up Champions” Market Discovery Tour in Denmark and the DTU Ignite Startup Pitch competition in Copenhagen. “And it worked - we were selected and took the pitching stage. Now we are taking one step at a time and developing connections that hopefully will bring us local links and credentials”, says Mar.
Current times have taught her team valuable lessons and the importance of being a lean startup. “The most important thing to face was a good use of resources. We had to be extremely conscious of where our resources were allocated”, she adds. The pandemic restriction also rebuilt the structure of “Bitmetrics clients”, SMEs, and, most importantly, the needs of the manufacturing industry. Companies needed the flexibility to use their assets for different applications.
“During the lockdown, we were not allowed to visit industrial plants and SME’s workshop areas. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a good impulse for them to send sample items of their products and perform exclusive demos to show how they could benefit from the automation of pick and place and random bin picking processes. We were able to receive their very often IP-protected parts, to work with them and determine the feasibility for such automation also for large automotive corporations”, says the startup co-founder.
What’s next? After the Pandemics started, the startup had to deal with the overload of the logistics system, microchip shortage, and unexpected cuts in industrial manufacturing production lines. In this case, factory workers were much more affected than those working on office tasks. Now the turbulent times continue but the need to optimize the production lines and catalyze innovation is not about to go away. The most ambitious startups are engaged in creating novelties and it gives a new horizon for AI-empowered computer vision.