Amsterdam’s Roboat secures €550K from SHIFT Invest and LUMO Labs to automate waterway transport



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The Netherlands-based VC firms LUMO Labs and SHIFT Invest announced that they have invested €550K in Roboat, a spin-out from MIT and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS).

Roboat aims to enhance urban liveability by automating waterways, contributing to safe, efficient, and sustainable transport.

Quint van Honk, SHIFT Invest, says, “We are impressed by what Roboat has accomplished so far. In addition, Roboat’s autonomous shipping technology stimulates sustainable waterborne transport by addressing key issues in the sector and enables more fuel-efficient sailing. Therefore, we are proud to be on board.”

SHIFT Invest invests in Roboat through the Thematic Technology Transfer Circular fund (TTT), in collaboration with Dutch technical universities (WUR, TU/E, UT, TU Delft), TNO, and RVO. The investment in Roboat marks the 10th investment under the scheme.

This investment from LUMO Labs and SHIFT Invest follows prior funding from Delft Enterprises.

The proceeds will help Amsterdam’s Roboat to establish a position in autonomous city logistics and inland waterways shipping and expand the team to achieve company goals.

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Autonomy on water

Founded in 2023, Roboat aims to transform inland waterway transportation with advanced autonomous navigation systems, enabling ships to autonomously perceive, navigate, and perform complex tasks. 

Its AI-powered system handles heavy traffic in urban and inland waterways, serving new and retrofitted vessels for various applications like passenger transport, goods delivery, and waste collection, thereby reducing city logistics’ carbon footprint. 

Shipping companies can integrate Roboat systems for autonomous operations, leveraging features such as situational awareness, decision support, obstacle avoidance, automated docking, and autonomous sailing, all customisable through subscription-based services.

Andy Lürling, Founding Partner LUMO Labs, says, “Cities worldwide are struggling with transporting people and goods over their congested roads. Waterborne transportation is a good alternative to cars and trucks, but the shortage of personnel and relatively high OpEx is currently posing a bottleneck.”

“Roboat’s technology offers a solution based on autonomous navigation. This market is expected to grow tremendously, since we need to rethink our transportation systems, making it more versatile and more sustainable.”

Ynse Hendrik Deinema, Roboat CEO & co-founder, adds, “We are collaborating with multiple clients in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe where our system is either supporting the skipper on the bridgedeck or is even taking full control of the navigation depending on local regulation.”

Gemeente Vervoerbedrijf (GVB), Amsterdam’s municipal public transport operator, uses the Roboat system for situational awareness on the GVB IJveer, providing an extra set of eyes to support the GVB skippers. 

GVB operates metro, tram, bus, and ferry services in the Amsterdam metropolitan area.

Sven Bakkes, Founding Partner LUMO Labs, says, “The technology is unique and Roboat is one of the few out there who can show a live demonstration of high levels of autonomous navigation in these complex urban waterways.”

“The team has proven that they can implement the technology in various vessels, under varying circumstances. They are now working towards a generic autonomy system, that can be widely applied within the inland shipping market.”

Brief about the investors

Founded in 2016 by Andy Lurling and Sven Bakkes, LUMO Labs creates opportunities for impact-driven software startups through its LUMO Fund II, a multi-stage capital fund focusing on startups aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It supports startups in Artificial Intelligence/Data, Blockchain, the Internet of Things, Digital Security, and Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality., formed in 2020, is a knowledge and investment consortium comprising Dutch universities and LUMO Labs. It aims to advance AI innovations’ availability and relevance in society. The consortium received an €8M subsidy from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s (RVO) Technology Transfer (TTT) scheme for pre-seed funding and knowledge transfer to startups.

SHIFT Invest, founded in 2009, is a Dutch impact VC fund focusing on innovations in food & agriculture, green industries, circular economy, energy transition, and sustainable mobility & logistics. The firm aims for positive environmental impact and financial returns, partnering with entities like Schiphol, KLM, and NS to support entrepreneurs with sector insights and networks.


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Vishal Singh

Vishal Singh is a News Reporter and Social Media Marketing Lead at Silicon Canals. He covers developments in the European startup ecosystem and oversees the publication's social media presence. Before joining Silicon Canals, Vishal gained experience at the Indian digital media outlet Inc42, contributing to its growth with insightful content. Despite being a college dropout, his passion for writing has driven his career in journalism.

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