Brain Corp., Maker of Robotics Tech, to Open European HQ in Amsterdam

Brain Corp., a robotics startup whose technology powers automated floor cleaning machines in retail stores, malls, warehouses, and airports, announced Monday it is opening its first European office in Amsterdam, the largest city in the Netherlands.

The Amsterdam office will serve as the company’s regional hub for operations, software development, and research and development, Brain said in a news release. Brain brought on a new executive, Michel Spruijt, as general manager to oversee operations in the region.

“We chose Amsterdam as Brain Corp’s European headquarters primarily for its central location, open business environment, prevalence of academic labs, and proven commitment to the cultivation of a robust AI and robotics ecosystem,” said Christian Cornelius-Knudsen, Brain’s senior vice president of global sales and services, in a news release. Amsterdam was ranked as the fourth most active startup scene in Europe in 2018 by industry publication EU-Startups.com.

The San Diego-based robotics company also has an office in Japan. It opened that office, its first outside of the US, in 2017, the same year Japanese investment giant SoftBank Vision Fund led Brain’s $114 million Series C.

Brain is also funded by Qualcomm Ventures, the corporate venture arm of the San Diego semiconductor company. The early-stage company, founded in 2009, left its first home, as an independent startup based at the Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) campus, in 2014.

In addition to beefing up its European presence, Brain has also been bulking up its C-suite: Last month Brain announced it had hired Scott Carter, the CEO of ID Analytics, a San Diego credit and fraud prevention company, as its chief operating officer. Carter joined ID Analytics in 2014 as its COO and became CEO in 2015. ID Analytics, which had been acquired by LifeLock in 2012, combined with Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) in a $2.3 billion deal in 2017.

Carter was previously chief marketing officer of Mitek Systems (NASDAQ: MITK), another San Diego company involved in identity verification. He also held roles at Experian and at HNC Software, a company focused on using neural networks and pattern recognition software for enterprise-level analytics that was snapped up by Minneapolis, MN-based Fair Isaac and Co. (now FICO) in 2002.

Brain’s technology is used primarily in industrial floor cleaners. In April, Brain announced that Walmart, one of its first customers, would expand its use of its BrainOS technology: By year’s end, the company’s operating system for commercial autonomous robots will be deployed in 1,860 of Walmart’s (NYSE: WMT) floor cleaners. Previously the retail behemoth had agreed to use the tech to turn 360 of its machines into autonomous operators.

That announcement came on the heels of a deal with Nilfisk, a Copenhagen-based cleaning solutions provider, which said it would license BrainOS to use in cleaning-industry robots. The company’s software is also used in machines operated by Tennant (NYSE: TNC), Minuteman, and Intelligent Cleaning Equipment. (A Tennant floor scrubber is pictured above.)

Although automated floor cleaners are Brain’s bread and butter, last November the startup announced it would also power a vacuum robot developed by SoftBank’s Robotics group. It also debuted a proof-of-concept “autonomous tug” that it says can tow a variety of carts for automated delivery in warehouses and other industrial spaces.

Brain is among many startups in the robotics space vying to transform a slew of industries via automation. Savioke, based in San Jose, CA, has deployed its rolling Relay robot for hotel deliveries on multiple continents. Meanwhile, Knightscope, also based in the Bay Area, makes security robots that have been used to patrol businesses, event venues, and parking lots (with varied levels of success).

In the Boston area last year, warehouse automation companies Soft Robotics, 6 River Systems, and Locus Robotics raised $20 million, $25 million, and $25 million, respectively, in venture capital investment.

In healthcare, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) this spring splashed out $3.4 billion for robotics developer Auris Health.

Sarah de Crescenzo is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can reach her at sdecrescenzo@xconomy.com. Follow @sarahdc

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