Leap Automation helping food companies overcome hurdles
Leap Automation, a Scottish producer of intelligent robotic systems for end of line automation for fresh produce, is out to help the food sector overcome challenges including a major labour shortage and rising wage inflation following a seven-figure cash injection.
The significant investment from Alba Equity and Scottish Enterprise will see the Aberdeen headquartered business consolidate its lead in the food packing automation sector by increasing its team and strengthening its production, product development and support capability. The company, which employs 21 personnel, also has a base in Edinburgh.
Leap said its cutting-edge software enables its systems to deliver more with less components and complexity than traditional packaging machinery. Combined with its vertically integrated approach – Leap design and build robotic systems from the ground-up while developing their own software – the organisation provides food companies with a cost-effective and simplified approach to robotic automation.
Following the launch of its first product early this year, the PikPak solution, Leap currently work with a major international food conglomerate and one of Europe’s biggest fresh food producers.
PikPak, designed and manufactured in the UK, is capable of packing a wide range of products at effective speeds and is compatible with a wide range of trays and boxes including those used by all key supermarkets and online retailers. Further product development is in progress to deliver enhanced quality control, advanced data analytics, increased efficiency and faster, simpler deployment.
Ben Stuart, COO and head of product at Leap, said: “Right from the start, it has been our mission to develop products that are intuitive and simple to use, lowering the barriers to the adoption of robotic systems.”
Leap was founded in 2018 by Ben Bamford and Ben Stuart, following careers developing and commercialising deep technology solutions within the energy sector. Having developed the underlying codebase and robotic technology over the past three years, the duo are now focused on helping the food sector address its critical labour and efficiency challenge.
Ben Bamford, Leap CEO, said: “Our customers are facing tough times with labour shortages and cost inflation. Our AI enabled robots are helping to solve these challenges from our bases in Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The capital we have raised will help us expand the team and our facilities and enable us to scale up and deliver to a wider range of customers.”
Alba Equity, founded in 2019 and based in Aberdeen, has so far backed eight companies, four of which are based in the north-east, including Leap, its first robotics investment.
Jock Gardiner, Alba Equity co-founder, said: “Alba Equity is proud to back two exceptionally talented local entrepreneurs, with the team at Leap having developed a compelling proposition. To be able to pivot the robotic technology and expertise that they have developed originally for the energy sector to the food industry due to market demand and customer-driven opportunities is visionary. Alba takes particular pride in supporting north-east Scotland based growth businesses such as Leap Automation.”
Kerry Sharp, director of entrepreneurship and investment at Scottish Enterprise said: “Scottish Enterprise is pleased to invest in Leap Automation as it accelerates growth with its high tech robotic solution. It is an exciting period of expansion for the company that will have wider benefits for SME food manufacturers in automating processes and improving logistics across Scotland and beyond. Scottish Enterprise is helping innovative companies to scale up and shape the future of our economy and Leap Automation’s robotics system highlights the tech talent in Scotland transforming industry.”