With each of our innovator stories, we get a chance to meet the people behind EU-funded ideas, which have the potential to change our future for the better. 



With that in mind, we spoke with Dealflow.eu’s DeepTech E-pitching participant Dr. Michael Suppa. Hes the co-founder and CEO of Roboception, a pioneer in 3D sensor technology: they give eyes and brains to robots; delivering vital elements of their customers´ most forward-looking automation solutions. 

Roboception is listed on the Innovation Radar and was supported by the EU with €972k so far via different R&I projects, i.e. THOMAS, 5GSmartFact, and ODIN.


Tell us more about yourself and your work? 

My name is Michael Suppa. I’m the CEO and co-founder of Roboception, a company that was founded in 2015 as a spinoff from the German Aerospace Center (DRL) here in Munich. I’d previously worked at DLR for 14 years in robotics research. My background is in electrical engineering, and I have a PhD in mechanical engineering. Since I started running my own company, my work became more focused on the management side. 

What problem is your product solving and what makes its solution unique? 

Our main focus lies on the topic of giving eyes and brains to robots, and therefore enabling flexible production. There are many approaches in industrial automation that use mechanical feeders and other systems, and we are replacing some of that with a set of cameras and software. There’s an ease-of-use concept included: We have a WebGUI that makes it very easy to use our products so that also non-vision-experts can use them. In addition, there aren’t too many parameters because we use machine learning to reduce the parameters and estimate them ahead of time. That also means that there’s no training time required for the customer. Moreover, there’s no vision expertise required on the customer’s side for our hardware and software solutions. Last but not least, we are compatible with many different robotic systems, which makes us the right solution in industrial automation and warehouse logistics. 


How did you start your journey and where are you now on the road to achieving your ambition? 

We started the journey in 2015. Shortly before that, we discussed on the research side that 3D vision is now ready to be deployed to industry applications. There were a lot of robot vision approaches, but most of them were based on 2D vision at the time. We concluded that it was time to bring a 3D vision product to market which is easy to use. Usually there’s a lot of engineering effort needed to bring a vision solution to life, but we wanted to make it easy to use.   

We launched our first hardware, the rc_visard stereo sensor, in 2017 and since then we have been focusing on the software side of things. We started with the hardware to enable the market and then provide add-on software solutions that solve different use cases ranging from commissioning of items, to de-palletising, to machine tending – mostly within the two domains of industrial automation and logistics. 

At this point, we are now at the stage to scale-up that business. This year, for example at the Automatica [Exhibition for Smart Automation and Robotics in Munich], people were no longer asking us what 3D vision is for, but coming with concrete use cases and asking us whether they can be solved with it. I think the market is now ready for these kinds of products and now we have the possibility to scale them, given that customers now understand their benefits and value. Our next step is scaling-up the business and achieving some recurring revenues. 

Have you already tested your product with clients? What was it like? 

With all our products, be it hardware or software, we conduct a pilot phase with specific customers for typically three months, before we launch it on the general market. We do this in order to get good feedback on whether the product is fulfilling the expectations of the customer. We prefer to do it this way, and have it done with trustworthy pilot customers, rather than having a product in the market that has not been tested. This is how we usually go; we have a pre-release program or early access for most of our products with one or two pilot reference customers that we know quite well, that we know will give us the appropriate feedback. 

What is Roboception’s greatest achievement so far? 

For the first time, we are seeing customers deploy our innovation widely in their factories and this is one of our biggest achievements. In addition to that, we have managed to develop a process that requires zero training on-site, as we can do everything ahead of time in simulation. That means the customer doesn’t need to know anything about the vision requirements nor have any expert knowledge, and that’s essentially one of the biggest achievements that we have reached thus far on the technological side. 


How do you see Roboception making a difference in the future? 

We would like to expand into more domains, such as warehouse automation where there is a lot of data that still needs to be recorded and analysed, and in lab automation where we have transparent and generally more difficult objects. We would like to increase our success in the industrial automation domain and make it transversal to these two new domains, where we really can make a difference in terms of reducing the data greediness with our approaches. 


Why is participation in Dealflow.eu’s e-pitching event and receiving their coaching important to you? 

The coaching part was very valuable because it’s important to discuss the message you want to convey with someone knowledgeable. Going through the slides and discussing the major topics helped us improve our pitch deck and enabled us to focus on what was relevant for the investors – and also the customers. That’s why these types of initiatives are so important; they give the opportunity to work on that.  

Moreover, we are currently looking for investors for our next round and this is why we participated in the e-pitching. It not only offered us the chance to speak to a larger community of investors, but at the same time allowed us to identify which of them might be beneficial for our business. We got five or six follow-ups, which is quite a lot as opposed to the regular process where you approach someone and then you may have no response whatsoever. I think that time was well invested in one event to get introduced and then get the right connections afterwards, therefore, this was also very beneficial for us. 


How would you define success and what keeps you going in the pursuit of it? 

Our success will be related to our level of technological expertise. We are striving to be the best at what we do, and potentially become a leader in that domain. Apart from that, the team´s motivation is a key factor. Lastly, the level of our sales is also important, because in order to scale on the market we need to have partners, so we built a partner network just to make sure that we can achieve that. Caring for this partner network and enabling them to sell our products is also something that brings me forward. 

Article published by EurA AG.

About Innovator Spotlight Stories

The aim of innovator stories is to highlight and share with investors and relevant stakeholders in the industry, insights, and unique stories from some of the most innovative EU-funded project that Dealflow.eu is proud to support.

If you are an investor who wants to connect with Roboception, please feel free to reach out at [email protected]

More about Dealflow.eu 

Supported by the European Commission, Dealflow.eu discovers and supports the most promising EU-funded innovators and connects them with relevant investors and corporates. The initiative was launched to help groundbreaking innovations secure the funding needed for their future commercialisation by offering them tailored support and matchmaking services. 

To learn more about Dealflow.eu, visit https://dealflow.eu/ 


Disclaimer: Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them