Crover is a robotics company who have developed the first ever technology for locomotion in bulk solids. We talked to the founder, Dr. Lorenzo Conti, about how Crover's first product benefits the grain industry as well as the ways the University of Edinburgh and their recent seed funding from the DDE programme will help them get their vision out to the world.
It all started when I was nearing the end of my PhD at the University of Edinburgh. I was in the School of Engineering, working in the broad field of ground and materials, and a project didn’t go the way I expected – but it did create what I’m now calling “the Crover Effect”. I was lucky enough to then meet Ross McLennan, an advisor for Edinburgh Innovations, who supported me to realise I could launch a startup. Not long after, I met Artem, my co-founder. He's absolutely amazing and the one who started turning my crazy theoretical idea into an actual robot.
We’ve created the first ever technology for locomotion in bulk solids – things like sand, grains and powders. The first application we decided to focus on is grains and our product is a small robotics device designed to monitor grain that’s stored in bulk. That lets grain-storekeepers identify critical conditions early and maintain the quality of their stock – saving grains and reducing waste.
Data is what makes our robot so valuable for grain-store owners. Essentially, the small robots can travel through huge grain storages and plug the data it gathers into a web-based app so that grain storage operators receive a notification if 10 percent of the values exceed a predetermined safe threshold. They then see a 3D map of conditions and proactively determine whether or not to take action.
For me, the driving force was definitely being a part of developing the technology. The big motivator is doing things that no one else can.
The main thing is to make sure that you're going to be committed, because it takes an incredible amount of time and effort. Being an entrepreneur becomes a lifestyle rather than just a job. It goes above and beyond what you might expect.
I used to think that success was having a ground-breaking discovery. But, going through this process, I realised how hard it is to get your discovery out to the world. Now I’d say success is being able to share that discovery as a sustainable company with a great turnover and reach.
It has been fantastic. The University's entrepreneurial ecosystem including Edinburgh Innovations and the DDE programme have been our biggest supporters from the start. If it wasn’t for their advice, guidance and financial support driving me forward I don’t think I would have started Crover.
The big thing at the moment is starting our first proper paid commercial pilots in September 2021. We just crowdfunded for our next stage on Crowdcube and have been delighted by the response - we’ve already exceeded our target £150,000 by over £100,00 and the funding period isn’t over yet.