InvestEU: EIB invests in high-tech workplace safety with €15 million for exoskeleton manufacturer German Bionic’s R&D activities

  • Combining artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, flagship European project creates safe and sustainable working environments.
  • Tech leader’s advanced power suit helps logistics and care workers with lifting and carrying tasks.
  • The EIB loan is backed by the European Union’s new InvestEU programme.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is investing €15 million in the further development of AI-based human-machine systems designed and manufactured by Augsburg-based tech firm German Bionic. Its smart power suits help logistics and care workers to perform physically strenuous tasks, in particular lifting and carrying heavy loads.

The EIB venture debt loan will be used for German Bionic’s research and development. A venture debt loan is financing that meets the needs of fast-growing innovative companies. The returns largely depend on the company’s success. Venture debt loans supplement existing venture capital financing without diluting the shares of the founders. The agreement is supported by InvestEU which provides an EU budgetary guarantee to implementing partners to increase their risk-taking capacity and therefore contributes to mobilising public and private investment for the EU’s policy priorities.

German Bionic is a leading provider of active, smart exoskeleton systems. The Cray X is the world’s first AI-based and fully connected power suit for the workplace. It uses self-learning to support lifting movements and prevent poor posture. The exoskeleton provides real-time ergonomic data during the working day to protect employees’ health and markedly reduce the risk of accidents, thereby also improving workflows.

The current version of the power suit provides up to 30 kg of lifting support and is also suitable for outdoor use. It was recently named the Best of Innovation in the Wearable Technologies category at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023. The robotics company plans to roll out further product innovations in early 2023.

“The EIB supports innovative and sustainable advanced technology developed and manufactured in the European Union. The project will help to consolidate Europe’s leading position in the industrial exoskeleton market in terms of technological competitiveness and commercial opportunities, while preserving and creating highly skilled jobs. We are pleased to be supporting this European success story,” said EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle, who is responsible for activities in Germany.

European Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni added: “InvestEU is playing an important role across Europe in helping businesses access the finance they need for advanced research and development. This agreement is an excellent example of InvestEU channelling finance to support research that will allow Europe to maintain its position as a world leader in the development of innovative products with positive real-world applications.”

“Our smart power suits protect workers performing hard manual labour on a daily basis to complete critical tasks from exhaustion and accidents. They provide mechanical support for lifting and carrying and use a smart assistance system to warn users if they are lifting incorrectly or if they should take a break. This leads to less time off work as a result of exhaustion or illness, happier employees and better results. We see this as a positive for society, and hope to build on this even further with our technology,” said Armin G. Schmidt, chief executive officer and co-founder of German Bionic.

  

Background information

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union, owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. The EIB’s key priorities are climate and the environment, development, innovation and skills, small and medium-sized enterprises, infrastructure and cohesion. It works closely with other EU institutions to foster European integration, further develop the European Union and promote EU policy objectives in more than 140 countries worldwide.

The InvestEU programme provides the European Union with long-term funding by leveraging substantial private and public funds in support of a sustainable economy. It helps generate additional investments in line with EU policy priorities, such as the European Green Deal, the digital transition and support for small and medium-sized enterprises. InvestEU brings all EU financial instruments together under one roof, making funding for investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible. The programme consists of three components: the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub, and the InvestEU Portal. The InvestEU Fund is implemented through financial partners who invest in projects using the EU budget guarantee of €26.2 billion. This guarantee increases their risk-bearing capacity, thus mobilising at least €372 billion in additional investment.

German Bionic is a German robotics company that develops and manufactures smart power suits. It has offices in Augsburg, Berlin, Boston and Tokyo. German Bionic’s Cray X is the world’s first connected exoskeleton for the workplace. It uses self-learning artificial intelligence to support lifting movements and prevent poor posture, thus becoming an intelligent link between humans and machines. The TÜV-certified device protects the health of workers and markedly reduces the risk of accidents, thereby improving work processes. In recognition of this innovative technology, which puts people back at the centre of Industry 4.0, German Bionic and the Cray X have received a number of accolades, including Best of Innovation at the Consumer Electronics Show 2023, Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award and the German Founders’ Award. The company was also nominated for the prestigious Hannover Messe Hermes Award.