Zoho invests Rs 20 crore in robotics startup
CHENNAI: In line with its mission to nurture deep tech solutions, Zoho Corp has invested Rs. 20 crore in Genrobotics, a startup building robotics and AI-powered solutions to help tackle hazardous working conditions. Zoho’s investment is aimed at helping Genrobotics achieve the scale needed to eradicate manual scavenging in India and provide safety and dignity to workers in the sanitation and oil and gas industries.
Genrobotics’ products are completely designed and manufactured in the country and its primary offering is the Bandicoot robot, a robotic scavenger, which helps clean confined spaces such as sewers manholes, sewer wells, storm water manholes, oily water sewers and storm water sewers in refineries.
The Trivandrum-based startup has also recently ventured into healthcare and launched a robot-assisted gait training solution—G Gaiter—to aid recovery of people with paraplegia. The investment will be used to expand R&D infrastructure, build large-scale production facilities, hire more talent, and increase the startup’s exports to ASEAN markets. “Nurturing a thriving deep-tech ecosystem in India is one of Zoho’s priorities, and the investment in Genrobotics is a continuation of that commitment,” Sridhar Vembu, CEO and co-founder of Zoho Corp, said.
“Building such technological competencies and critical know-how locally can help foster sustainable growth across key sectors, like industrial manufacturing, healthcare, and energy, in turn making the country economically stronger and self-reliant.”
When quizzed on Zoho’s plans to get into active deep tech investing , Vembu said they look for companies that share certain similarities with Zoho- a long-term R&D focus, and founders who are committed to stay the course. “Zoho Corp. is a reputed organization and we are extremely pleased to be backed by them in our mission to eliminate manual scavenging from India. We are confident that having Zoho as our investor will be a great support, as it’s a company that, like us, also focuses on the betterment of the public,” Vimal Govind M K, MD and CEO, Genrobotics, said.
“In order to end manual scavenging in India, more than one lakh robots will be required. As we scale to fill the need gap, we estimate creation of nearly five-lakh jobs across the country,” he added. Launched in 2017, Genrobotics has been previously backed by Anand Mahindra, Rajan Anandan, Unicorn India Ventures and SEA funds and it has raised a little over Rs 3 crore in prior rounds. .
The startup, through its #MissionRobohole, claims to have rehabilitated hundreds of people who were working as manual scavengers by training them to be robot operators.