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Comate Ventures and Start it @KBC join forces to bring innovative robotics to market

2 August 2022

The first investment from Comate Ventures goes to Zeal Robotics

Leuven, August 3, 2022 - Logistics robotics company Zeal Robotics can count as the very first company to receive pre-seed funding from Comate Ventures. The investment fund of high-tech design company Comate and Marc Coucke's holding company Alychlo focuses specifically on startups that build innovative hardware products. Zeal Robotics wants to transform distribution warehouses with a new generation of autonomous robots. To bring these to the market quickly, the startup from Leuven joins the network of the country's largest accelerator, Start it @KBC.

Around the world, the need for logistics personnel is high. For example, half a million logistics vacancies in the United States are open, and e-commerce giants such as Amazon can no longer find people for their distribution centers. In Belgium, the growing personnel shortage after the corona crisis also poses a new threat to supply chains. Zeal Robotics is developing robots that not only ease the physically demanding work of workers, but also provide a solution to the need for logistics workers. By using Artificial Intelligence and 3D vision, the Leuven startup makes the robots faster, more responsive, and safer than the current generation in warehouses and distribution centers.

"There are still a lot of efficiency gains to be realized in logistics robots," says Sven De Craemer, one of the three founders of Zeal Robotics. "Today, companies use the same robots everywhere. Not only are they obsolete, but they are also standard versions that are not adapted to the environment in which they work. Our advanced robots can move goods completely autonomously without additional internal infrastructure. This allows companies to deploy them immediately and scale them up further where necessary."

Potential to grow into a major European player'

Zeal Robotics is the first startup to receive pre-seed funding from Comate Ventures. That investment fund was founded last year and focuses specifically on innovative hardware. It is a joint venture between engineering and product development company Comate and Marc Coucke's family investment holding company, Alychlo:

"We want to join forces with the pioneers and technological innovations of tomorrow," Coucke clarifies. "Zeal Robotics is in an interesting niche in the challenging hardware sector, and has the potential to grow into an international player there."

Wouter Foulon, CEO of Comate, adds: "For us, Zeal is a perfect example of a highly skilled team combined with a groundbreaking idea. We have experience and expertise in developing hardware. We know that it is a difficult, risky and expensive process. Comate Ventures can offer startups that build hardware a springboard to get to the right product in the most efficient way possible. Belgium has brilliant engineers and scientists, but those who only focus on technology sometimes miss the vision of the end user or the business model, so the product can never become a success. That's why we put Zeal Robotics in touch with Start it @KBC, which supports emerging hardware and robotics companies."

Start it @KBC, and Comate join forces

Together with Comate's engineering team, Zeal Robotics is fully developing its hardware. The robots will be manufactured entirely in Europe. The first prototype should be ready in the spring of 2023. Within the accelerator program of Start it @KBC, the largest startup network in the country, Zeal Robotics can then count on guidance to set up a sustainable business model and conquer international markets.

Lode Uytterschaut, founder and CEO of Start it @KBC: "Zeal Robotics is looking for logistics companies to co-create and set up pilot projects. We can match them with corporates within our network who are looking for innovative hardware. Comate and Start it @KBC complement each other perfectly. We already have a partnership, and the intention is to attract more entrepreneurs in the future who want to bring innovative hardware products to the market."

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