Labour shortages have affected large parts of the world and various industries. The security industry is also feeling the crunch, with many countries around the world facing a 52% staff shortage of security guards* which means companies are struggling to fulfill contractual obligations or sign new business. In addressing this pressing issue, robotics startup Ascento, is today announcing a $4.3m funding round and the launch of its latest autonomous outdoor security patrolling robot: Ascento Guard.
The pre-seed funding round was led by Wingman Venture and Playfair with participation from marquee investors including Tim Kentley-Klay (Founder of Zoox that exited to Amazon), robotics industry veteran Ryan Gariepy (CTO & Co-Founder of Clearpath Robotics and OTTO Motors), Daniel Kottlarz (Founder of MYBOTSHOP, largest robotics research reseller in Europe) and Tobias Redlin (Founder of IGO3D, largest desktop 3D printer distributor in Europe), including non-dilutive funding from the Swiss Innovation Agency Innosuisse and the European Space Agency incubator ESA BIC.
Ascento develops advanced robotic systems that are popularly known for their wheel-leg design. These autonomous robots are designed to navigate any outdoor terrains with agility and stability of their legs. They are already being deployed on large industrial sites and have covered over 3000 km for outdoor security since early this year. Ascento customers include large outdoor warehouses, industrial manufacturing and pharma campus, among others.
Today, the startup has launched their latest autonomous outdoor security patrolling robot called Ascento Guard. It is able to detect bad actors or unwanted people on premises, verify perimeter integrity, check that doors and windows are closed, record property lights, identify floods and fires, and control parking lots. They can move at walking speed (4.5km/h) and come with autonomous charging such that the system can be continuously in operation without human intervention.
The Ascento Guard can be installed and deployed within a few hours, allowing companies to save from day 1 and adapt fast to their current security needs. The Ascento Guard can be hired by the hour, just like a human guard, and it includes deployment, 24/7 support, service and repairs. The Ascento App analyses video and images with AI, it integrates with existing video management systems, provides end-to-end encrypted two-way communication, and offers powerful reports that security managers actually want to see.
Alessandro Morra, co-founder and CEO of Ascento commented: The new Ascento Guard offers hope and a breath of fresh air for the security industry facing some pressing challenges. By supporting human security personnel with the Ascento Guard, security companies can offer a lean solution through which Ascento does the heavy lifting allowing humans to focus on the unique nuances of the work.
The global security industry is facing mounting challenges. Labour shortages mean a lack of qualified personnel available to do the work which involves long shifts, during anti-social hours or in bad weather. To compound matters, there is high staff turnover in the industry, as much as 47% annually. By providing a robotics-as-a-service solution to security companies, Ascento aims to address these challenges.
Alessandro Morra added: Ascento is targeting the high operating costs the industry is enduring. The traditional approach is to use either people or fixed installed cameras. We know about the labour challenges and the installation of cameras has a huge outlay that can be complex. The Ascento Guard provides the best of both worlds, with the resilience, reliability and repeatability of technical solutions whilst being as flexible as human guards.
Ascento was co-founded by Alessandro Morra (CEO), Miguel de la Iglesia Valls (CTO), Ciro Salzmann and Dominik Mannhart (Software & Hardware) who combined their experience as security guards together with the robotics technology that they developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) as students.
The team has grown to >10 people, as new customers sign up every month, with a growing fleet mileage over 70% month over month since the beginning of 2023. The systems in the field have accumulated over 3000 km. Ascento is hiring across Sales and Operations to scale their fleet of Ascento Guards.
Pascal Mathis, Founding Partner at Wingman Ventures commented: We accompanied the founder team for over a year as sparring partners and the dedication, execution speed and how the team is listening to its customers to build the right solution is astonishing. We look forward to making the life of security guards easier and the objects they protect safer.
Chris Smith, Managing Partner at Playfair commented: Many of the worlds most pressing business challenges cannot be solved by software alone. We see the next decade as providing a huge opportunity for companies building in robotics to solve these challenges. Ascentos combination of a world class team, best in class technology and a large global market with significant labour and pricing pressures made this a compelling investment opportunity for us.
* Gitnux Market Data, Security Guard Industry 2023: Statistics And Trends
Ascento provides robotic guards and AI software to patrol large, outdoor, private properties. It includes points of interest checking, edge case detection, all powered by proprietary AI. Premises like manufacturing plants, data centres, energy production, pharma manufacturing, luxury manufacturing and outdoor warehousing use the Ascento solution. For more information please visit: www.ascento.ai or follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, X
About Wingman Ventures
Wingman Ventures is Switzerlands leading pre-seed fund, backing founder teams building tech companies with the potential to become global market leaders. Wingman has a track record of supporting exceptional founders in creating breakthrough companies and has the passionate conviction that the Swiss startup ecosystem is just starting to write its best success stories. To learn more, please visit www.wingman.ch
About Playfair Capital
Playfair Capital is a generalist fund with a contrarian approach to pre-seed technology investing. Based in London, Playfair invests across the UK and Europe with an intentionally high conviction, low volume approach: making 6-8 investments a year and preserving time, capital and resource to help companies post-investment. Playfair has backed 70+ companies across two funds including Thought Machine, Andela, Mapillary, Recycleye and Orca AI.
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