United Robotics Group and Fraunhofer IPA enter into technology partnership and licensing agreement: transfer of KEVIN® laboratory robot usage rights

Bochum, October 16, 2023 – United Robotics Group (URG) and the Fraunhofer Institute for  Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) have signed a licensing agreement as part of their newly concluded technology partnership. The agreement covers the distribution and further development of the KEVIN® laboratory robot, which will be manufactured and distributed by URG in the future. With this strategic step, URG is expanding its presence in the life science sector.
In addition, both partners benefit from valuable synergies for the future-oriented automation of laboratories – the research and innovation expertise of Fraunhofer IPA optimally complements the robotics expertise of URG. The laboratory robot KEVIN® was developed by the Department of Laboratory Automation and Bioproduction Technology at Fraunhofer IPA and brought to prototype stage with first test customers worldwide. Under the umbrella of URG, KEVIN® will now go into series production. For this purpose, the company is acquiring a corresponding licence for the use and further development of the robot’s hardware and software.

From left to right:Andreas Traube, Head of Department Laboratory automation and bioproduction technology, Prof. Thomas Bauernhansl, Director of Fraunhofer IPA, Thomas Linkenheil, Co-CEO of URG, Sarah Ostertag, UX & Industrial Design Lead and Product Management and Tobias Brode, Head of Business Development Lab Automation

We are pleased to be able to create new, promising perspectives for laboratory automation with our robotics solutions as part of the collaboration. This strengthens our presence in the life science sector – and enables us to effectively address societal challenges such as the shortage of skilled labour and demographic change,“ explains Thomas Linkenheil, Co-CEO of URG.

Mobile laboratory robot
KEVIN® is an autonomous, mobile laboratory robot. It automates processes and can be
flexibly and intuitively integrated into laboratory infrastructures. The robot takes over
repetitive routine tasks. For example, it transports microtitre plates and racks in SBS format, such as samples or consumables for refilling. It can also supply systems with pipette tips.
Using KEVIN® around the clock increases efficiency in the laboratory. Given the shortage of skilled workers, it is particularly important to reduce the workload of staff, allowing them to focus on value-added activities.

„With the new agreement, we have added a decisive boost to the further development and commersialisation of KEVIN®. Automation plays an important role in the life science sector. It enables laboratories to respond flexibly to different requirements. This makes it all the more important to jointly develop suitable solutions for this sector,“ says Thomas Bauernhansl, Director of the Fraunhofer IPA.

Increase in personnel for URG
In the course of the technological partnership between Fraunhofer IPA and URG and the transfer of the licensing rights to KEVIN®, there will also be personnel changes. Sarah Ostertag and Tobias Brode will join the United Robotics Group. In the future, Sarah Ostertag will work as UX & Industrial Design Lead + Product Management and Tobias Brode as Head of Business Development Lab Automation at URG. Both will accompany KEVIN® from the initial idea to the market-ready series product and thus strengthen company’s expertise in the long term.