5 start-ups that are pioneering IoT and robotics technology

6 Aug 2020

Image: © paisan1leo/Stock.adobe.com

We take a look at five start-ups developing IoT and robotics solutions to contribute to smart cities and improve connectivity.

Over the last few weeks, we have looked at some of the start-ups recognised as Technology Pioneers by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2020, including blockchain businesses, healthcare innovators, leaders in AI and cybersecurity start-ups.

This week, the focus is on the robotics and IoT industries. We take a look at five companies highlighted by the WEF that are developing tech solutions from smart rings to an IoT intellectual property marketplace.


Founded in 2013 by Thomas Leurent, Phuong Huynh and David Knezevic, Akselos focuses on creating digital twin technology to help the world’s critical infrastructure with next-generation simulation tech.

The Swiss company is headquartered in Lausanne and has operations in the US, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands and Vietnam. Its flagship product, Digital Guardian, aims to revolutionise the management of large, complex assets by offering real-time condition-based monitoring and predictive analytics.

According to Akselos, its Digital Guardian is based on a newly developed algorithm that is up to 1,000 times faster than legacy technology – changing the process of structural assessment to allow for real-time, continuous monitoring of large assets.

The start-up’s goal is to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and it believes that extreme engineering, along with real-time digital twins, can help accelerate this transition and make clean energy more affordable and accessible. Investors in the company include Innogy Ventures and Forticap.


Based in Dallas, Texas, Avanci is led by CEO and founder Kasim Alfalahi. The start-up has built an IoT marketplace that licenses intellectual property from a variety of patent holders in a single transaction.

The start-up promises predictable pricing to ensure that companies pay a fair licence rate for their IoT products, with prices based on the value the wireless technology brings to a product, rather than the sales price of the product.

The start-up aims to help companies contributing essential patents to get a fair return, and help companies using the technologies to obtain licenses at a fair price to accelerate the adoption of IoT and 5G connectivity.

Licensors in the Avanci marketplace include Asus, BT, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Nokia, Orange, Panasonic and Sony. Among the licensees using the platform are Audi, Bentley, BMW Group, Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen.

Oura Ring

The goal of Oura Ring is to help people understand their own health information through a wearable device. The company was founded in 2013 in Finland by Kari Kivela, Markku Koskela and Petteri Lahtela, and is now led by CEO Harpreet Rai.

Its wearable ring device tracks all stages of the wearer’s sleep and activity to provide daily feedback and practical steps that are personalised with the aim of inspiring healthy lifestyles.

The tech is powered by infrared LEDs, NTC temperature sensors, an accelerometer and a gyroscope. The device’s battery can last for seven days and can be fully charged within an hour.

Investors in the company, which received the Red Dot award for product design in 2018, include Google’s Gradient Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Bold Capital Partners, MSD Capital and Lifeline Ventures.


Israeli start-up Seebo has developed a predictive yield solution to help manufacturers predict the quality of products and prevent waste losses. The firm was founded by Lior Akavia and Liran Akavia in 2012.

The company’s AI technology aims to look at the root causes of inefficiencies to provide an analysis of why they are occurring, while providing predictive recommendations on how to prevent process inefficiencies.

According to the start-up, its insights and recommendations can automatically adapt to changes in the manufacturing process and it can be scaled across multiple lines and multiple plants.

The IoT technology has been used by companies such as Nestlé, Mondelez, PepsiCo, Lindt, Škoda and Danone. Some of Seebo’s investors include Ofek Venture Fund, TPY Capital, Viola Ventures and Autodesk.


Leb by CEO Wuyang Zhao, Chinese firm Sensoro is an IoT technology services provider that has partnered with Sony, Microsoft, Bosch, Nokia and more. The start-up has developed an end-to-end IoT product line consisting of chips, sensors, communication modules, communication base stations and cloud platforms to provide low-cost IoT solutions.

Sensoro says that its technology contributes to the creation of smart cities, while connecting the physical and digital worlds. The company has more than 100 employees, with around 70pc of those working in R&D.

The company was an early developer of Bluetooth low-energy smart sensors and transmission technology, and claims to have developed one of the world’s smallest dual-channel low-power wide-area network chips.

Some of Sensoro’s offerings are focused on helping customers and businesses reduce their carbon footprints and ensuring less energy is consumed, while other products aim to prevent fires.

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Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic