A group of people stand around two tall, white robots.
The Akara team. Image: Akara

Akara to expand Dublin team and boost robot production with new funding

14 Oct 2021

The TCD spin-out will be looking to hire engineers, software developers and more as it rolls out its germ-killing robot.

With fresh funding on the way, robotics start-up Akara plans to expand its team and create a production facility in Dublin.

Akara is one of several Irish start-ups that has been recommended for funding under the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator. This is expected to provide at least €2.4m, with more financing expected to be raised via co-investment.

The start-up will use the funding to create a robot production facility, which will boost its output to an estimated 100 robots per year.

It also aims to add 20 new jobs over the next two years, in areas such as engineering, software development, marketing and biological sciences, to aid with global expansion plans.

Akara was spun out of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in 2019 and is now based at the Digital Hub in Dublin’s Liberties.

It has focused on developing AI and robots for the healthcare sector. This started out with Stevie, a social care robot designed to interact with older people and help out in nursing homes and retirement communities.

Then the start-up turned its attention to disinfection with Violet, a robot that could autonomously navigate a room and disinfect it using ultraviolet light. Working with the HSE, it has been deployed at Irish hospitals.

Akara said that Violet emerged from years of research at the TCD School of Engineering and Science Foundation Ireland’s Adapt research centre. The robot will now be central to its expansion plans.

“We are thrilled to have secured this highly competitive funding, which will allow us to create a robot production facility right here in Dublin that is capable of building germ-killing robots for use in Ireland and globally,” said Dr Conor McGinn, founder of Akara.

“We founded Akara two years ago to empower frontline workers by giving them the tools they need to make hospitals safer and improve outcomes for patients and staff alike. The Covid-19 pandemic has put the issue of decontaminating clinical settings into sharper focus than ever before.

“We are excited to think that in the near future our robots could be seen in hospitals across the world, where we expect them to save time, money and – most importantly – lives.”

Leonard Hobbs, director of Trinity Research and Innovation, said it was encouraging to see a university spin-out “realising ambitious plans to scale at a global level”.

“There is also great potential for job creation at Akara,” he added.

The funding Akara is set to receive is from the EIC Accelerator, which is part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme and was launched earlier this year to support SMEs – particularly start-ups and spin-outs – that are developing and scaling game-changing innovations.

It provides a combination of equity and grant funding and is also designed to help companies attract additional capital from the private sector.

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Sarah Harford
By Sarah Harford

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic for three and a half years.

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