SCRA announces a $200,000 SC Launch, Inc. investment in Vän Robotics.
The innovative, Columbia-based company was accepted into SCRA’s
entrepreneurial program, SC Launch, in January 2017.
Robotics is revolutionizing student learning by combining
artificial intelligence and proven teaching techniques into friendly,
approachable, and funny robots. The company’s initial robot, ABii,
complements classroom learning, or can be used to facilitate learning at
home. ABii is the first artificial intelligence tutor and was created by
Laura Boccanfuso, Ph.D., based on ten years of research at University of
South Carolina and Yale University and her passion for integrating
technology into the classroom. In addition to the SC Launch, Inc.
investment, Vän Robotics received three grants from SCRA to build a
prototype that was used in product testing to get user feedback and to
conduct larger consumer tests. The investment will be used to
manufacture the company’s first 700 consumer robots.
“SCRA was the first to believe in our vision to transform student
learning through robotics and AI. With SCRA’s grant funding and
commitment of key resources, we were able build and test our initial
robot prototype, conduct field testing in schools and collect early
customer feedback from teachers, parents and students,” said Laura
Boccanfuso, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Vän Robotics. “This recent
investment from SC Launch, Inc. will enable us to complete the necessary
engineering redesign and manufacture of our first commercially-ready
robots and to launch sales to schools and consumers at home. We are
thrilled to have such an outstanding partner and are excited about the
“We are excited to be working with the Vän Robotics team to support
their product development,” said Lee MacIlwinen, SC Launch Regional
Manager, SCRA. “The combination of artificial intelligence and
curriculum-based lessons that are delivered by a friendly robot is the
perfect educational tool for young children.”
SCRA is a state-chartered organization that fuels job creation and grows
South Carolina’s innovation economy. Through SC Launch, early-stage
companies are provided mentoring and grants and may be eligible for an
investment from SC Launch, Inc. The SC Launch program is open to
qualified South Carolina companies in the Advanced
Materials/Manufacturing, Information Technology and Life Sciences
in 1983 by the State of South Carolina as a public, non-profit
corporation, SCRA fuels South Carolina’s Innovation Economy by
accelerating technology-enabled growth in research, academia,
entrepreneurship and industry.
About SC Launch, Inc.
Established in 2006, SC Launch, Inc. is an independent, non-profit
corporation affiliated with SCRA, which provides loans and investments
to selected South Carolina-based companies participating in the SC