AN Aberdeen business which specialises in artificial-intelligence-enabled robotics for food companies is aiming to double its workforce following a fundraising.

Leap Automation, founded in 2018 by Ben Bamford and Ben Stuart, said it had recently received a “significant round of investment” from syndicate Alba Equity and economic development agency Scottish Enterprise.

A Leap spokesman said this took the amount of funding raised by the company over the last 18 months to £3 million. He added that Leap, which designs, builds and installs full systems in the food-packing automation sector with the “underlying equipment...designed to meet the requirements of a broad range of customers with minimum customisation”, planned to increase its workforce from 21 to 42.

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The spokesman confirmed Mr Bamford and Mr Stuart, who had careers developing and commercialising technology solutions in the energy sector before founding Leap, between them retain a majority stake in the business, following the latest fundraising.

Leap said that, “having developed the underlying codebase and robotic technology over the past three years", its founders are "focused on helping the food sector address a critical labour and efficiency challenge”.

The company has built a team including robotics engineers, machine-learning specialists, software developers, and three-dimensional printing and data specialists.

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Leap declared its software enables its systems to "deliver more with less components and complexity than traditional packaging machinery”, providing a “simpler” and “more cost-effective option” for robotic automation. It noted it designs and builds robotic systems “from the ground up”, while developing its own software.

The firm said: “Following the launch of [the] first product in early 2022, the PikPak solution, Leap is working with a major international food conglomerate and one of Europe’s biggest fresh food producers to roll out systems.”

It added: “PikPak, designed and built in Scotland, 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.”

Leap chief executive Mr Bamford 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.”