SCRA announces a $200,000 SC Launch, Inc. investment in Vän Robotics. The innovative, Columbia-based company was accepted into SCRA’s entrepreneurial program, SC Launch, in January 2017.
SCRA announces a $200,000 SC Launch, Inc. investment in Vän Robotics, a company that is revolutionizing student learning by combining artificial intelligence and proven teaching techniques into friendly, approachable, and funny robots.
Vän Robotics is revolutionizing student learning by combining artificial intelligence and proven teaching techniques into friendly, approachable, and funny robots. The company’s initial robot, ABii, complements classroom learning, or can be used to facilitate learning at home. ABii is the first artificial intelligence tutor and was created by Laura Boccanfuso, Ph.D., based on ten years of research at University of South Carolina and Yale University and her passion for integrating technology into the classroom. In addition to the SC Launch, Inc. investment, Vän Robotics received three grants from SCRA to build a prototype that was used in product testing to get user feedback and to conduct larger consumer tests. The investment will be used to manufacture the company’s first 700 consumer robots.
“SCRA was the first to believe in our vision to transform student learning through robotics and AI. With SCRA’s grant funding and commitment of key resources, we were able build and test our initial robot prototype, conduct field testing in schools and collect early customer feedback from teachers, parents and students,” said Laura Boccanfuso, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Vän Robotics. “This recent investment from SC Launch, Inc. will enable us to complete the necessary engineering redesign and manufacture of our first commercially-ready robots and to launch sales to schools and consumers at home. We are thrilled to have such an outstanding partner and are excited about the road ahead.”
“We are excited to be working with the Vän Robotics team to support their product development,” said Lee MacIlwinen, SC Launch Regional Manager, SCRA. “The combination of artificial intelligence and curriculum-based lessons that are delivered by a friendly robot is the perfect educational tool for young children.”
SCRA is a state-chartered organization that fuels job creation and grows South Carolina’s innovation economy. Through SC Launch, early-stage companies are provided mentoring and grants and may be eligible for an investment from SC Launch, Inc. The SC Launch program is open to qualified South Carolina companies in the Advanced Materials/Manufacturing, Information Technology and Life Sciences sectors.