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Cobots (collaborative robots) have swept the industrial world. I can’t believe it’s been seventeen years. The advances over the past five or so have been remarkable. This is a short piece about one company’s growth with a bit of history.
Seventeen years after it was founded by three visionary young researchers in a basement, Universal Robots has just reached a 1,000-employee milestone.
Universal Robots, the largest company in a fast-growing Danish robotics hub, has become the cluster’s first organization to reach 1,000 employees – one of only a few Danish companies founded in this millennium to hit this milestone.
Since its first collaborative robot (cobot) was launched in 2008, Universal Robots has grown to be a global market leader in cobots with offices in more than 20 countries worldwide. The company’s success is reflected in the growth of an entire robotics cluster, meaning Denmark is now home to more than 400 robotics companies, making the Danish city of Odense one of the leading robotics hubs in the world.
Kim Povlsen, President of Universal Robots, comments: “This is an historic milestone for us, and we are proud of how we have evolved from being a local startup in the basement under the university to becoming a global cobot pioneer and market leader. Above all, it shows that we have a fantastic product and that many companies around the world can see the benefits of using our robots to develop their business.”
Universal Robots started in 2005, when three young researchers – Esben Østergaard, Kasper Støy, and Kristian Kassow – from the University of Southern Denmark were frustrated by how the robots of the time were heavy, expensive and complicated to use. This gave them the idea to create a robot that is flexible, safe to work with, and easier to install and program.
As Universal Robots has thrived, so too has the Danish robotics scene, centered around Odense, a city of 200,000 people. The number of people employed by Danish robotics companies is forecast to reach 23,000 by 2025, while total revenues from the industry are already more than €2.8 billion.
During the past year, Universal Robots has hired more than 200 employees to ensure the company is ready to realize the enormous growth potential that lies ahead.
The UR President predicts an increasing need for automation in the coming years, driven by several different things: a desire to protect employees from dangerous and monotonous tasks; reshoring, where companies move production closer to home in response to an uncertain world; and above all, a shortage of labor which will only get worse in the coming years.