MassRobotics Healthcare Robotics Catalyst Program Opens Applications for Cohort 3, Presented by Festo, Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Novanta, and MITRE

MassRobotics, Festo, Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Novanta, and MITRE are calling on startups in the healthcare robotics space to apply to the third Healthcare Robotics Startup Catalyst program 2023-24 and celebrating the end of their current cohort 2022-23.

This program provides healthcare startups with the opportunity to showcase innovative healthcare and robotics solutions and compete for a chance to join a world-class accelerator program. The program’s objective is to advance healthcare robotics companies by providing the connections, guidance, and resources they need to grow and succeed. The selected startups will be guided by senior-level mentors from organizing companies and supported with connection to potential customers, investors, suppliers, marketing and more. Additionally, the selected startups will find support within MassRobotics’ Healthcare Robotics Working Group, comprised of a U.S. cluster of corporate, academic, government, startup, and venture capital volunteers.

The healthcare industry is rapidly evolving, and robotics has become an integral part of modern healthcare. With the growing demand for healthcare services and technological advancements, the healthcare robotics market presents significant opportunities for improving patient care, reducing healthcare costs, and increasing efficiency across various areas of healthcare.

The program is open to early-stage startups with a healthcare, robotics, AI, or IoMT focus within the scope of the challenge. Selected startups will receive access to key players and collaborating corporates, innovation centers, and engineering teams. Additionally, they will receive introductions to investors, contract manufacturing firms, and suppliers. They will also have access to loaners, free components, and prototyping and testing resources. The program also includes media and marketing support, as well as potential participation in trade shows with mentor organizations.

This is a unique opportunity for healthcare startups to gain valuable resources, mentorship, and support from some of the most respected and successful companies in the healthcare and robotics industries. Applications open on May 11, 2023 and close on September 9, 2023. Cohort 3 will be announced on September 22, 2023.

Applicants from around the world can benefit from the support of the program to achieve their specific milestones. Cohort 1 and 2 participants have achieved significant milestones through the program, including but not limited to, funding, sales, signing a global partnership and territory expansions.

In June 2022, MassRobotics, Festo, Mitsubishi Electric, Novanta and MITRE launched the call for applications for the second Startup Catalyst Program to advance healthcare robotics companies around the world, providing the networking opportunities, guidance, and resources they need to grow and succeed. The program focused on startups in the areas of clinical care, public safety, laboratory, supply chain automation, out-of-hospital care, quality of life, as well as continuity of work and education, and training and support for healthcare professionals. The program ended with a showcase presentation at the Robotics Summit & Expo in Boston, wherein all participants shared their successes throughout the program. 

More than 40 companies applied from around the world. The mentor companies selected seven to join the program. The participating startups completed impressive milestones, as detailed below:

Acumino Inc. (USA)

Acumino proudly announces its successful completion of the MassRobotics Healthcare Catalyst program, where the company showcased its exceptional ability to train robots for complex healthcare tasks. These tasks included TMS brain scanning, hazardous waste removal, and lab tech automation, demonstrating Acumino’s expertise across multiple healthcare use cases.  A significant achievement stemming from this program is a collaboration between Acumino, Mitsubishi Electric, and Festo, with the shared goal of revolutionizing pathology labs through next-generation robotic solutions. This collaboration capitalizes on the collective expertise and resources of all three companies to address the pressing challenges arising from the global shortage of lab technicians. The solution will be powered by Acumino’s next-generation robotic training platform, Mitsubishi Electric’s robotic arms, and Festo’s end effectors, with healthcare advisory provided by Dr. Michael Roehrl. The project aims to enable robots to operate pathology lab devices in a manner that surpasses existing approaches in terms of speed, safety, cost-effectiveness, and accuracy. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Mitsubishi Electric, Festo and Dr. Roehrl on this groundbreaking project,” expressed Patrick Jarvis, CEO of Acumino. “Together, we have a unique opportunity to dramatically improve the standard of healthcare worldwide.”

Robot on Rails (USA)

Founder and CEO Chase Olle, while working with Festo’s mentorship in the Healthcare Robotics Catalyst Program, has produced an innovative robotic work cell known as “RNA on Rails” in collaboration with HelixNano. During the program and supported by Nuzha Yakoob, Head of Technology & Innovation, Olle worked with HelixNano for six months on a pilot mRNA production suite, which proved successful, leading to the expansion of the project to a multi-robot production work cell. As part of this expansion, Robot on Rails (RoR) will deliver four machines to HelixNano within the next eight months. Additionally, the 8-channel DHOI pipette developed by Festo Technology Engineering Center will replace the system’s current liquid handling. This new suite will cover most of the production pipeline and is expected to increase production by six times. The RoR project, under Olie’s leadership, delivered a series of new features, including robotic replenishment and product refrigeration, that have brought them one step closer to achieving their goal of becoming the new automation standard for life sciences laboratories.

ABLE Human Motion (Spain) 

ABLE Human Motion is a startup from Barcelona that creates exoskeletons for people with physical disabilities. The company has completed clinical trials across Europe and received pre-orders for its new generation of accessible exoskeletons. ABLE has submitted the Technical File to receive CE-mark regulatory approval in the coming months. The Catalyst program helped ABLE refine its business model, review operational costs, and adapt the value proposition for each stakeholder. Nuzha Yakoob, Head of Technology & Innovation at FESTO, mentored the team and helped to make connections to US investors for upcoming investment rounds. ABLE plans to expand its US investor network to reach its fundraising target for 2024. Additionally, Yakoob connected the team with relevant component suppliers to improve the exoskeleton’s capabilities for home use, enabling patients to walk in real-life situations and enjoy social activities. ABLE expects to launch the new home product in early 2026. Overall, ABLE is on a mission to improve mobility and independence for everyone with physical disabilities.

Andromeda Robotics (Australia), the innovative startup specializing in humanoid robots, has experienced remarkable success as a result of its participation in the Healthcare Robotics Startup Catalyst program. Through strategic collaboration with Novanta, a key program partner, Andromeda achieved significant advancements in the social AI and functionality of their first prototype, Abi, an endearing and versatile companion humanoid robot. As a direct outcome of its collaboration in the Catalyst program, Andromeda successfully secured introductions to various healthcare facilities in Melbourne (Australia) and Boston (USA). These introductions will provide invaluable opportunities for Abi to undergo comprehensive trials and demonstrate its exceptional ability to assist elderly residents in maintaining their independence. The positive feedback and real-world results garnered from these trials will cement Andromeda’s position as a leading provider of cutting-edge robotic solutions in the healthcare sector. In addition, Andromeda’s pursuit of funding during the Catalyst program has seen notable progress, with the seed round still ongoing in the first half of the year. The program’s support in facilitating introductions to early-stage venture capital investors has positioned Andromeda favorably for securing the necessary financial resources to fuel its expansion and development plans. Andromeda Robotics is now poised to capitalize on the momentum gained through the Catalyst program. With a solid foundation of successful trials, strong connections with healthcare facilities, and ongoing efforts to secure funding, Andromeda is actively pursuing partnerships with local aged-care homes in Boston to extend the reach and impact of their remarkable humanoid robots.

Unlimited Robotics (Israel)

During the Catalyst Program, Unlimited Robotics successfully continued to develop Gary, a groundbreaking multifunctional robot that leverages cutting-edge technology to empower medical teams worldwide in delivering exceptional care and service to patients. Powered by Ra-Ya, a state-of-the-art advanced platform, Gary has versatile capabilities that assist medical professionals in various tasks, amplifying their efficiency and effectiveness, whether it is supporting patient care or streamlining administrative processes. The open-source nature of Ra-Ya has also enabled software developers worldwide to contribute and expand Gary’s capabilities, fostering a community-driven approach to robotic healthcare. Unlimited Robotics envisions a world where every medical facility has access to advanced robotics, ensuring the highest quality of care for patients globally.

Maestro Surgical Robotics (Taiwan) 

With a globally patented and paradigm-shifting motion control technology and proprietary AI-driven medical imaging algorithm, the Shanghai-based Maestro Surgical is a surgical robot platform company capable of developing tailor-made precision robotic arms for specific procedures. The company’s first product under development is a spine surgery robot for lumbar decompression; the engineering model can do both pedicle screw placement and laminectomy, a mission-critical function that most spine surgeons want.

Mentored by Novanta Inc. (NASDAQ:NOVT) throughout the MassRobotics Healthcare Robot Catalyst Program 2022, Maestro Surgical is proud to announce that it has accomplished more than the original goal set at the beginning of the program. The company has optimized its robotic arm with improved dexterity and accuracy, designed a surgeon’s console with minimal latency, deep-trained its imaging algorithm with large sets of real patient data, partnered with a leading ultrasonic orthopedic knife company, and is closing its Pre-A financing round.

Zeta Surgical (USA)

Zeta Surgical, a digital surgery company, has completed its participation in the 2023 MassRobotics Healthcare Catalyst program, in cooperation with MITRE. During the program, the company finalized the development of the Zeta Cranial Navigation system and submitted its 510(k) application to the FDA. Concurrently, Zeta Surgical initiated its first-in-human clinical trial, a significant step in its growth. In addition, the company has launched a new initiative in London, centered on the development of ZetaFUS, an ultrasound-based system for drug delivery. This expansion signifies Zeta Surgical’s ongoing commitment to improving the accuracy, safety, and accessibility of image-guided procedures.

“We are very honored to have three additional industry partners – Novanta, Mitsubishi Electric, and MITRE – join us for cohort 2 of this program, sharing their rich experience and expertise in the healthcare space with our selected startups, providing dedicated mentoring and guidance throughout the program. It is with new industry partners that we can expand our program, increasing the number of startups we select as well as expanding the scope of the program. We would also like to acknowledge our program supporters, a special thanks to Dr. Kamran Manzoor and Dr. Michael Roerl for their untiring support and guidance with Acumino,” said Nuzha Yakoob, the Head of Technology and Innovation at Festo.

“The Healthcare Robotics Startup Catalyst program is a connecting platform between startups and corporations for leveraging innovative Robotics technology to futuristic automation solutions in the healthcare industry. It is a great opportunity to work with top selected startups and a network of experts for effective product development and efficient system deployment,” said William Nguyen, Ph.D., development manager at Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc.

“We are thrilled to serve as technical mentors to the startup founders developing the next generation of healthcare robotics. Working with these brilliant minds gives us valuable insights into how we can best support their innovative efforts. This collaboration is truly energizing and inspiring our engineering team as we help them to achieve tomorrow’s breakthrough technologies,” said Elliot Helms, Lead Mechatronics Engineer at Novanta.

“It was a wonderful experience to serve as an innovator mentor and to see the startups evolve over the course of the program developing out-of-the-box robotic solutions for the next generation of healthcare. I particularly enjoyed mentoring Zeta through their FDA roadmap and was thrilled they could have put that roadmap in motion during this cohort. I look forward to the next cohort!,” said Iris Sherman, the leader in biosecurity and innovation for MITRE.

“We are thrilled to witness the collaborative efforts of Festo, Mitsubishi Electric Automation, MITRE, and Novanta as they come together to support disruptive startups in the fields of healthcare, life sciences, biotech, and medical devices from around the world. This collaboration aims to foster innovation and advancement in human-care industries, and we are excited to be a part of it,” said Juan Necochea, Strategic Partnerships, MassRobotics.

Learn more about the program here:

About MassRobotics 

MassRobotics is a nonprofit robotics innovation hub whose mission is to help create and scale the next generation of successful robotics technology and connected devices companies by providing innovative entrepreneurs and startups with the workspace and resources they need to develop, prototype, test and commercialize their products and solutions. While MassRobotics originated and is headquartered in Boston, we are reaching and supporting robotics innovation globally and are working with startups, academia, industry and governments both domestically and internationally.

About Festo

Festo is a global player and an independent family-owned company with headquarters in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany. Festo has set standards in industrial automation technology and technical education ever since its establishment, thereby making a contribution to the sustainable development of the environment, the economy, and society. The company supplies pneumatic and electrical automation technology to 300,000 customers of factory and process automation in over 35 industries. The LifeTech sector with medical technology and laboratory automation is becoming increasingly important. The products and services are available in 176 countries. With about 20,000 employees in over 250 branch offices in 61 countries worldwide, Festo achieved a turnover of around €2.84 billion in 2020. Each year around 8 % of this turnover is invested in research and development. In this learning company, 1.5 % of turnover is invested in basic and further training. Festo Didactic SE is a leading provider of technical education and training and offers its customers worldwide comprehensive digital and physical learning solutions in the industrial environment.

About Mitsubishi Electric Automation

As one of many Mitsubishi Electric automation affiliates around the world, Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc., is part of a $40 billion global company serving a wide variety of industrial markets with a family of automation products including programmable logic controllers, variable frequency drives, operator interfaces, motion control systems, computer numerical controls, industrial robots, and servo amplifiers and motors. The corporate philosophy of the company includes a commitment not only to providing superior solutions and service to Mitsubishi Electric customers but also to contributing to the local community and creating a rewarding work environment for its employees.

About Novanta

Novanta is a leading global supplier of core technology solutions that give medical and advanced industrial original equipment manufacturers a competitive advantage. We combine deep proprietary technology expertise and competencies in photonics, vision, and precision motion with a proven ability to solve complex technical challenges. This enables Novanta to engineer core components and sub-systems that deliver extreme precision and performance, tailored to our customers’ demanding applications. The driving force behind our growth is the team of innovative professionals who share a commitment to innovation and customer success. Novanta’s common shares are quoted on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “NOVT.”
More information about Novanta is available on the Company’s website at For additional information, please contact Novanta Investor Relations at (781) 266-5137 or


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