Soft robotics startup SRT bags shy of US$21m from Series C, C+ funding

Against this backdrop, flexible end effectors -- tools mounted at the end of a robotic arm -- offer the best hope of addressing the problem with material handling in the manufacturing industry across the world.

Soft-bodied robot startup SRT has completed two successive Series C and C+ rounds of financing worth a combined 150 million yuan (US$20.78 million).

Goldstone Investment led the Series C round, with Pegasus Capital and Brilliant Capital backing the follow-on Series C+ round.

Founded in 2016, Beijing-based SRT is a high-tech startup dedicated to developing soft-bodied robots catering to application in industrial automation and rehabilitaton.

Traditional robots are powered by joints and face limitations such as a lack of flexibility and high manufacturing costs.

Material handling

Therefore, they can only solve 3% to 4% of the handling of regular-shaped and hard-surfaced materials, according to media reports.

Instead, a large amount of handling of irregular-shaped and brittle objects has to be done by hand, which can hardly be automated and is considered inefficient.

Against this backdrop, flexible end effectors — tools mounted at the end of a robotic arm — offer the best hope of addressing the problem with material handling in the manufacturing industry across the world.

Photo courtesy of SRT

According to Gao Shaolong, founder and CEO of SRT, with the country’s advanced manufacturing sector, soft-bodied robotics can be applied to assist the digital transition of ready-to-eat food, medical product, hardware and semiconductor industries, among others.

SRT’s goal is to co-prosper with China’s manufacturing space and sharpen its competitive edge globally.

To achieve this purpose, it has rolled out eight series of end effectors, including SFG flexible gripper, ISC inner soft clamp, and Van der Vaals suction cup.

These effectors are deployed to more than 20 segments such as fresh food, medicine, polymer materials, hardware, semiconductor, 3C electronics, lithium-ion battery, automobile and injection molding.

Diverse product portfolio

In the realm of healthcare robots, SRT plans to build a product portfolio covering an existing wearable rehab glove, and two other exoskeletons worn on the torso and at the ankle currently under development. Some have entered mass sales or clinical application.

Photo courtesy of SRT

Gao of SRT believes that soft-bodied robotics are at the intersection of material science, robotic motion control, chemical engineering and other disciplines.

This means that the startup needs to possess a full array of capacities in algorithms, material and chemical experimentation and processes to constitute a technical barrier.

SRT claims it will adopt a two-pronged strategy to tap the industrial and healthcare markets.

On the industrial front, it seeks to use flexible tools like grippers to provide the world market with Chinese solutions.

In the area of healthcare robotics, SRT looks to leverage so-called “pneumatic muscles,” a core tech module, in developing soft exoskeletons, abdominal surgical wound spreader and artificial heart.

SRT products are now present in 26 countries, spanning over 20 industries and serving around 500 clients. The firm’s revenue has been increasing twofold or threefold every year.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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