openhand projectThree startups from the Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL) have generated over £100k of funding between them via rewards-based crowd-funding platforms.

They are the Open Hand Project ,who aim to make robotic prosthetic hands more accessible to amputees, Agilic, who create Raspberry Pi-powered TiddlyBots for educational purposes, and OmniDynamics, whose desktop gadget will reduce the cost of home 3D printing.

Joel Gibbard (pictured top right) from the Open Hand Project raised £42k on crowd-funding site Indiegogo. He said of the Bristol tech incubator: “Working at the BRL is like being part of one big team doing several projects; we all talk to each other and share ideas, skills and even funding opportunities.”

“Working at the BRL is like being part of one big team doing several projects; we all talk to each other and share ideas, skills and even funding opportunities”


Agilic, following their trip to the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Mission in California, are already looking to deliver hundreds of their Raspberry Pi powered TiddlyBots this month after exceeding their Kickstarter target by $10,000. A Tiddlybot, as described on their KickStarter site, is “a simple little funbot with some amazing features. It draws, follow lines, and helps with the learning of technology.”

StrooderJust last month, OmniDynamics secured £67,000 through crowd funding and are now able to commit to manufacturing 300 Strooders to send out to those who backed them.

Strooders (see left) are small desktop gadgets that melt down plastic pellets and turn them into filament for 3D printing, “the 3D equivalent of ink cartridges”. Their OmniDynamics website makes it clear that the look and ease of use of the gadget is a highly important factor and it’s cheap and eco-friendly too, allowing you to cut up 3D prints that have gone wrong and put them back through the Strooder again and again.

It’s been an exciting start to the year for the Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL) and, combined with the recently won government funding for a ‘University Enterprise Zone’ specialising in high tech, robotics, biosciences and biomedicine, it’ll soon be easier than ever for local entrepreneurs and students to turn their ideas into reality.

Who’s next?

mechamonsterReach Robotics are the next high tech business that are likely to benefit from the support of the BRL and crowd-funding platforms with their MechaMonster, a four legged interactive mini bot that “links physical and digital modes of play” in gaming.

The robots are being developed by UWE Robotics graduate Silas Adekunle and are designed to interact with their owners and each other while controlled from a mobile phone.

Jill Burnett, Innovation Manager at BRL, said, “Helping new robotics businesses start and grow is a core part of BRL’s mission. Our technology business incubator has provided valuable insight into what really works in this dynamic landscape. Crowd funding is a good example.”

And with many getting involved in these startups at BRL, from those with degrees in robotics, to graphic designers and marketing students, it’s easy to see why this is working so well for those involved.

Alice Whale