Ohio State ECE spin-off Circular Wave Drive raises $2M toward robotics innovation

Posted: March 28, 2018

The Ohio State University spinoff, Circular Wave Drive (CWD) raised $2 million toward mass production of its lower-cost, more durable gears for industrial robots.

A technology company manufacturing compact speed-reducing gears for robotics and applications, CWD recently closed $900,000 in new seed funding, capping off its $2 million current total. Columbus-based Ikove Venture Partners led and organized the round for the startup.

This latest funding helps the company further invest in research and development, talent acquisition and international growth, while expanding its offices to China.

"There is an accelerating demand for robotics in China. With this expansion, we will be able to continue to grow our operations, as well as attract and retain the best talent within our China subsidiary," Dr. Robert Lee said, CWD co-founder and Ohio State Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) professor. "We will maintain a strong presence at our headquarters in Columbus, as all of the technology and research will remain in Central Ohio."

Yuan Zheng
The company's speed reduction technology was developed by Dr. Yuan Zheng, a Winbiger Endowed Chair professor in the ECE Department at Ohio State. Designed as less complex and elegant, CWD enables a full product line of low-cost, compact, highly-efficient speed-reducing gearing systems. 

"When running on 18-hour shifts, industry-standard speed reducers must be replaced once every two years. This short lifespan results in a loss of productivity, which can prove very costly to a company," Zheng said. "Our precise design enables us to offer a speed-reducing gear that is lower cost and more durable than strain-wave gears, which currently dominate the market."

Working directly with CWD to vet the technologies and assess commercialization potential, Ikove Venture Partners provides the funding and go-to-market strategy.

"As the gears represent over 40% of their cost structure, speed reducers are a core technology for industrial robots," Flavio Lobato said, co-founder and principal of Ikove Venture Partners. "Circular Wave Drive's speed reduction technology is a major breakthrough and aims to reduce that cost by one third."

About Circular Wave Drive
Circular Wave Drive is a robotics company whose full product line of low-cost, compact, highly-efficient, ruggedized, speed-reducing gearing systems. Licensed by The Ohio State University, Circular Wave Drive allows for a wide range of sizes, reduction ratios, and materials and can address a uniquely broad use of application store place several different technologies in multiple fields.

About Ikove Venture Partners
Ikove is a venture development company founded to pursue early-stage investments with an emphasis on technology commercialization in the Midwest. Through its proprietary Startup Nursery, in partnership with multiple U.S. research institutions, Ikove identifies and validates developing high-impact technologies, providing capital and resources to bridge the commercialization gap between lab and market. Over the last three years, Ikove has successfully launched ten technology companies and created over $100M in equity value through its Startup Nursery, which focuses on nurturing and growing concepts into companies.