PowerON showcases new product demonstrators at Robotics Festival in Leipzig

Well – every tradition starts with repetition…once is an event, twice is a tradition. Last year PowerON was at the then-named “Dresden Robotics Festival“. The event was such a success that this year’s edition is even bigger, will be hosted in Leipzig and is now called “Robotics Festival”. We will be there – so a tradition is started.

The Robotics Festival gathers a curated crowd of forward-thinking industry leaders, researchers and entrepreneurs who are truly passionate about robotics and its uplifting potential in the industry and beyond.

PowerON is attending Robotics Festival with our newest, largest, most interesting and – we believe – most significant demonstrators for near-term applications in the robotics industry. Join us from 13-15 September in Leipzig, Germany. Get insights also into what leading researchers think about the future of the robotics sector, and the topics are they plan to investigate next as the robotics industry lifts off. 

Get your tickets here: https://robotics-festival.de

Book your personal meeting with PowerON via email: roboticsfestival@poweron.one

PowerON’s TouchDetect Skin on Pneumatic Hand

Have you ever asked what “Smart Elastic” really looks like? Here is something for you! PowerON’s engineers integrated a soft, flexible, and stretchable TouchDetect tactile skin with a pneumatic robotic hand. With our tactile skin, the hand feels its environment and reacts differently as it encounters various things. Now it can catch balls and interact with the operator. In the future, we will use TouchDetect to give tactile feeling to industrial robotic grippers, to automate still-manual tasks and make human-robot collaboration safer.

Carsten Schumann joins the team as CCO

PowerON’s management and board is pleased to announce that Carsten Schumann has joined the team today, July 1st, as the Group’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), based at our Dresden facility. Carsten leads PowerON’s commercial strategy and business development, focussing on product-market and customer engagement to drive business growth. In this senior corporate role, Carsten operates across our operations in both Dresden and Auckland, with the core aim of shaping our product and service offers to meet identified customers needs. 

He has more than 15 years sales experience at machinery industry, in robotics, sensor and actuator products, in product management as well as in establishing and managing a subsidiary in China. His focus on customer acquisition will be invaluable in meeting our goals and objectives. 

Asked why he decided to join PowerON, Carsten commented that he sees an opportunity to contribute to the introduction and market growth of unique products which will tackle and solve today’s and future challenges in our daily life, through introduction of advanced, lifelike, assistive robots and devices. “I want to be part of the dynamic and fast growing robotic industry in Saxony, which surely is a gateway to the future”, he says and continues: “I am looking forward to working with a transformational technology, supported by a world-class international team on the one hand – while supporting local industry in Dresden and Germany on the other.”

CEO Markus Henke observed: “Carsten is an excellent match for this role and greatly strengthens the PowerON Group as we begin our market entry stage. Being located in our Dresden facility places him close to our key partners and customers, and he will be taking a leading role in the collaboration processes we have refined working with our advanced research team in Auckland, New Zealand. Adding Carsten’s skill set will bring a strong commercial & market dimension – early on – to products that are emerging from our development effort now. We are looking forward to many fruitful discussions, new impulses and a real push to our company and product development.”

PowerON wins Dresden’s Connect Startup Award 2022

Last week was good to PowerON! On 20th June, CEO E.-F. Markus Henke pitched PowerON at the connect conference…and we won. Next day, Senior Development Engineer Moritz Scharff received the award on behalf of the PowerON team.

This year’s Connect Start-up Award (by the city of Dresden) was presented in cooperation with the international trade magazine “connect” from publishing house WEKA MEDIA PUBLISHING GmbH. PowerON convinced the jury in a multi-stage selection process and was awarded first place.

The award package includes extensive communications support for us – with editorial support and social media postings, advertorials, company portraits and case studies in connect magazine. The Start-up Award promotes innovative companies, like PowerON, and gives them a platform.

Initially, 10 companies were selected from more than 100 start-ups, which were evaluated by the jury according to a points system. These 10 faced a jury in a live pitch. Members of the jury were Bettina Leutner, Managing Director at CREAM COMMUNICATION, Jessica Oldenburger, Content Manager at WEKA MEDIA PUBLISHING, Uwe Richter, Head of Department Smart City, Office for Economic Development, State Capital Dresden, Dirk Waasen, Publishing Director WEKA MEDIA PUBLISHING and Sophia Wolter, Office for Economic Development, State Capital Dresden.

PowerON at the Digital Hub pitch night in Dresden, Germany

We are #readytopitch – and we are competing for the Newcomer Award at the Digital Hub Initiative’s Pitch Night on May 24 at Kraftwerk Mitte in Dresden. A top-class jury and the audience will decide which innovative ideas are the most convincing. Under the motto “Fest Forward,” the initiative will also celebrate its fifth birthday and present what it has achieved in the past five years in an exhibition. The evening will be opened by Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer and Dr. Anna Christmann, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Startups at the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection. Register now and vote for us on May 24:


PowerON selected for Intel Ignite Batch#3

We are excited to announce that we are part of Intel Ignite Munich / Europe‘s startup growth program!

Intel Ignite is Intel Corporation‘s program for deep-tech #startups, helping turn cutting-edge ideas into industry-disrupting technologies by providing entrepreneurs hands-on mentorship, technical support, and business acumen. 

We know this program will help us further our goal to create the next generation of robotics here at PowerON – Smart Elastic.

Let’s do this 🦾. Thanks Intel!

From 03.05. till 06.05 our CEO Markus Henke and COO Fabian Finster will be at the kick-off session in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany. During the week they will get to know other startups and take part in mentoring sessions and workshops. We look forward to meeting the rest of batch#3.

Meet us at “Robot Valley Saxony” on May 10 in Dresden, Germany

PowerON will be showcasing its technology and products at a technology fair in Dresden on May 10th, as part of the “Zukunftsland Sachsen” (Land of the Future Saxony) series. The event series is touring through Saxony, showcasing successful companies and their products. PowerON will be represented by our CEO, Dr. Markus Henke. Besides introducing PowerON and our technology, he will talk about the experiences faced by technology start-up founders. Together with other startups and already-well-known players in the robotics sector in Saxony, we will discuss questions, such as:

  • What successful examples of robotics already exist in Saxony?
  • How can I build up know-how and expertise in this field of technology in my company?

Business, production, medicine or agriculture – the current areas of application for robots are very diverse and widespread: and this is only the start. The high demand for automation solutions in general, and the use of industrial robots in particular, is largely due to recent technical progress. The development of new applications and supporting services is being pursued by science and innovative start-ups around Technical University Dresden. The settlement and establishment of various companies here in Robot Valley has increased significantly in recent years. We aim to give you an insight to the extent Saxony in particular, with its key players, will revolutionise this industry with innovative solutions. In the event “Robot Valley Saxony“, examples of success and challenges, and approaches to solving them, will be presented and discussed.

Are you interested? Then come and join us on 10 May 2022. During the event, you will have the opportunity to talk to the companies that presented, as well as other companies in your region, to exchange experiences and to ask questions.

Tickets for the event are available here: https://www.eventbrite.de/e/zuhause-in-der-zukunft-das-robot-valley-sachsen-tickets-249163523807

PowerON was featured as Success Story on “Zukunftsland Sachsen”

PowerON’s work and technology is attracting further attention in Germany. Our CEO Markus Henke has been interviewed by Thomas Trabert from the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management. Thomas and Markus discussed PowerON, its history, journey, developments and vision. The article has been published in the framework of Success Stories at “Zukunftsland Sachsen”. You can find the article here (German original).

Below, you can read an English translation of the article:

PowerON GmbH

Creating the next generation of robotics


The German-New Zealand startup PowerON is engaged in developing completely flexible electronic components for the next generation of robots. The team around co-founder Dr. E.-F. Markus Henke has nothing less in mind than to fundamentally revolutionize robotics as we know it from traditional industrial manufacturing. 

“We want to make robots more human and teach them to feel.” To do this, PowerON is solving one of the fundamental problems of robotics. It is still difficult for robots to interact safely with their environment and, for example, to handle various randomly shaped objects. To change this, PowerON is looking at so-called multifunctional dielectric elastomers. These are flexible materials that can be used as artificial muscles to enable bioinspired movements, as artificial skins to provide robots with a sense of touch, and even as a kind of bioinspired nervous system that gives robots reflexes.

The evolution away from “Big, metal, cold and stiff colleagues in the factory,” as Dr. Henke calls them, to bionically designed assistance systems that interact with us every day in various applications is necessary, in PowerON’s view, to solve burning problems of the future, but which have already become apparent during the pandemic. “We have clearly seen in the last two years what happens to supply chains when entire companies have to close due to a pandemic,” says Dr. Henke, “Or how bad things are for the asparagus harvest when no helpers can be found. The dramatic situation in nursing is now obvious even to outsiders.” From PowerON’s point of view, there is a very great potential in the future to bring robotic assistance systems into use in many applications where it is not yet possible today. Flexible technology will offer a significant contribution to this. “It’s not now that we want to do away with industrial robots. They do their jobs in the production lines exceptionally well. But we want to make it possible for the significant advantages of automation technology to be available to the broad masses, precisely through bio-inspired systems that can work safely with us. “

And this is precisely what the compliance of materials in combination with electronics is supposed to make possible. To this end, the company has a broad patent portfolio in various areas, which is constantly being expanded. PowerON works primarily with tactile surfaces, which are used as fingertips in robot grippers and enable them to feel different surfaces and things. Currently, a demonstrator is being developed from the prototypes, together with an industrial partner, which will show the enormous potential of tactile gripping. “From the fingertips, we will subsequently create entire skins”, says. Dr. Henke. With these skins, PowerON wants to give complete robotic systems a tactile surface so that users can interact with them via buttons and gestures, similar to a hand on the shoulder. This feature is not only useful as a safety feature, as the robot can minimize consequences of possible collisions, but rather such skins will change the way we interact with technical systems in real-time and without further aids. Through location-resolved tactile sensing, they are enabling robots to recognize and respond to appropriate tactile gestures.

PowerON is also working on so-called “artificial muscles”. These are compliant materials that convert electrical energy into kinetic energy and have similar properties to biological muscles. This leads not only to a safer but also a more pleasant haptic experience than would be possible with classic actuators, such as motors. Furthermore, these actuators move silently, which is advantageous for use close to the body. Here, too, the first demonstrators have already been developed and built together with pilot customers.


“To the best of our knowledge, function integration at this depth, covering everything from sensor to actuator to signal processing with one material system, does not work with any other known technology.”

Dr. Ing. E.F. Markus Henke

CEO PowerON GmbH, CEO PowerON Ltd.

The greatest technological potential, however, still lies in the future, according to PowerON. “What we are most excited about is the possibility of being able to process signals through a clever combination of actuators and special sensors, which we call “artificial neurons,” and thus equip technical systems such as robots with reflexes and a certain autonomy” Dr. Henke elaborates. PowerON is developing autonomous, compliant signal processing units that can be directly integrated into flexible structures and provide them with some intelligence. “To the best of our knowledge, functional integration of this depth, which covers everything from the sensor to actuator to signal processing with one material system, does not work with any other known technology. “, says Dr. Henke.

Silicones with different degrees of hardness are used as the basis for all developments and are selected specifically for the respective type of application. In this way, customer-specific solutions can be created. To create the electronic components, the silicones are mixed with various carbon compounds and printed.

In addition to mechanical compliance, one advantage of the technology is that signals can be registered and processed directly where they occur, and a direct reflexive response can be elicited. Detection directly at the point of contact offers numerous advantages. For example, there is no need to integrate additional sensor technology in the motors and joints of robots, as is often the case today. The greatest potential, however, probably lies in opening up applications that no one is reckoning with today.

From science to application

After completing his Ph.D. at TU Dresden, Dr. Henke spent two years from 2015 to 2017 as a PostDoc at the Bioengineering Institute of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. There he worked on flexible artificial muscles, artificial neurons, and bioinspired robots. While there, he met the company’s current COO, Dr. Ross Martin Green, an already successful entrepreneur from New Zealand. Based on his experience in technology development, Dr. Green also recognized the commercial potential of the scientific work early on and was quickly convinced that further development would also be worthwhile. At the end of 2015, PowerON’s current CTO, Dr. Katie Wilson, came to New Zealand for her Ph.D. and complemented the team. 

In 2017, Dr. Henke returned to Germany with the firm decision to set up a company in the field of soft robotics together with the team in New Zealand. In 2019, the time had come. With the support of investors from Australia and New Zealand, as well as the University of Auckland, PowerON Ltd. was founded. In addition, the founding team received support from Dresden|exist, and the TU Dresden in the form of an exist Business Startup Grant. This enabled the team to gain a foothold in Europe as well. In 2020, as a result of this support, PowerON GmbH was founded as a subsidiary in Dresden. Close cooperation with both universities continues and offers an excellent opportunity for mutual exchange.

Due to the geographical distance between Germany and New Zealand, PowerON is ideally positioned for a digital future. For example, weekly cross-company management meetings and supervisory board meetings have been held exclusively online since day 1. What other companies first had to implement and learn at the beginning of the Corona pandemic was already “best practice” for PowerON’s founding team.  


A generally big challenge is always to bring visionary ideas to the broad market. This requires a comparatively large amount of money for a hardware startup like PowerON. This is invested primarily in specialists, laboratory equipment, and later in building up production capacities. Therefore, such disruptive, future-oriented developments are only possible with the support of external investors. “Just like us as founders, our investors believe in the technology and the impact our products will have in the near future. And perhaps more importantly, they believe in us as a team. “, says Dr. Henke.

This is also demonstrated by the fact that the investors, who incidentally have to date come exclusively from Australia and New Zealand, were prepared to invest in PowerON’s vision of next-generation bio-inspired robots at an early stage. In the upcoming financing round, German and European investors should now also be convinced of the potential.  


For a young startup like PowerON, it is always fascinating, sometimes surprising, with what rules, procedures, and processes the German administrative apparatus comes up with. Therefore, it quickly became clear to PowerON that it was inevitable to establish a GmbH (limited liability company) based in Dresden in addition to the Ltd. that existed at the beginning in order to be able to exploit the full potential of opportunities in Germany and Europe. The PowerON team received significant support in this process from the network around Dresden|exist. It was also exciting to observe how quickly it can happen that a good idea can quickly reach the management level in large established companies and discuss its ideas with decision-makers there. 

Currently, PowerON employs 15 people in Dresden and Auckland. By the end of next year, the company aims to double the size of its team.

Learning effects/optimizable

As a young company, you should not underestimate the challenges that come with expanding your team. For example, the onboarding of new employees, especially in the beginning, ties up a lot of free resources that cannot be used in other areas of work. 

The biggest challenge, especially at the beginning, was to transform the university background, with its focus on research, into product development with a focus on customer benefits. This transformation has been very successful, especially due to the cooperation with various pilot customers.

PowerON appears in major German business newspaper “Handelsblatt”

Robot Valley Saxony: How Saxony is becoming the leading robotics cluster

The leading German business newspaper “Handelsblatt” interviewed PowerON’s CEO Markus Henke for an article about Germany’s federal state of Saxony becoming the “Robot Valley Saxony”. The article covers Dresden and Saxony building a flourishing robotics ecosystem, combining universities, research institutions like Fraunhofer and Helmholtz Centers, major OEM companies like BOSCH, Global Foundries and Volkswagen, to create the perfect spot for startups to develop innovative solutions in robotics and test them directly in the the market. Simultaneously, major science and bioengineering orientated universities in Saxony deliver a stream of highly skilled graduates. “Dresden is on the way to becoming the “place to be” in robotics”, Markus says in the article. Read the entire story here.

PowerON Group welcomes new staff and interns in first virtual “All Staff Forum”

PowerON has been intercontinental since day one, with teams in Dresden, Germany and Auckland, New Zealand. While this keeps us close to customers in Europe, the split brings several challenges. The time shift of 10-12 hours between Germany and New Zealand means extra planning is needed for the cross-team meetings that are vital for a young company exploiting ground-breaking technology. With the PowerON team growing rapidly just now, getting together is vital as we build links throughout the team.

Recently PowerON held its first “All Staff Forum”, where several new team members and interns were introduced and welcomed. “Even though it is not possible to physically meet just now, with Covid restrictions still in place, we need to do what we can for our team members to link up. PowerON’s success is based on ideas coming out of our multi-disciplinary team, which is why we can offer new solutions to support our customers”, Ross Green, COO, said after the meeting, “Our team gets a real lift from learning a little more about their colleagues, the available skill base and the full range of projects throughout our company. We will have such events at quarterly from now on.”

“After raising significant capital earlier this year, we have extended our team with numerous brilliant minds. It is important that our new people get to know the entire team, no matter where they are located” says Markus Henke, PowerON CEO. “Both of our branches have added engineering staff to support execution of our near- and longer-term technical plans. We are in process hiring a Chief Commercial Officer in Germany to shape and drive our medium-term business development”, added Dr. Henke. 

Katie Wilson, CTO, noted: “We have an ambitious technical programme for delivery in 2022 to improve our product and service offers, supporting our current and prospective customers as they look to deploy our active elastomer components. The scale of opportunity for our customers is large, and PowerON is conscious of the need to support customers through the transition away from legacy electronic and electromechanical systems.” Dr. Wilson added: “Our strategic new hires have the right background and know how to develop smart elastic material applications meeting identified customer needs.”

Dr. Henke commented that PowerON expects to complete the current hiring round mid-2022. “We’re pleased with the response we received from candidates, especially given the competitive recruitment situation for good people in Europe and New Zealand now. We are running ahead of our recruitment goals, meaning that we will have the team ready with increased capacity for customer support next year.” He added that: “So far we have people of seven different nationalities. We are truly an international company and it is good to see the collaborative working across the team. This recruitment round has also seen us make good progress towards meeting our diversity goals. Diversity & inclusiveness are the top goals for companies, like PowerON, that build on new ideas.”