The Rockefeller Foundation was the very first donor to fund WeRobotics. Their early startup grant enabled us to develop, test and refine our Flying Labs framework across three continents; resulting in the launch of Flying Labs in Nepal, Tanzania and Peru. The Flying Labs framework is an institutional framework used to sustainably localize emerging technologies—in our case intelligent robotics, such as drones. Our first three Flying Labs went on to implement multiple projects across multiple sectors thanks to the startup grant. For example, Nepal Flying Labs did important work on disaster risk reduction; Peru Flying Labs spearheaded the first ever use of medical cargo drones in the Amazon Rainforest; while Tanzania Flying Labs worked on large scale development projects. This 3 minute video from the National Geographic Explorer’s Festival highlights the good work done by these 3 Flying Labs.
Thanks to the Foundation’s first grant, we also held our first WeRobotics Global event at Rockefeller Headquarters in New York; an event that many speakers and participants publicly stated was hands down the most productive, pragmatic and meaningful conference they’ve ever attended. Thought leadership continues to be an important priority for Rockefeller and central to our mission.
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are already powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the world’s richest countries. Our mission is to democratize this industrial revolution. To do this, we empower local champions in low-income countries to accelerate local efforts in resilience building, humanitarian aid, sustainable development, environmental protection, public health and climate change adaptation by using intelligent robotics; doing so in a way that is safe, responsible, ethical and effective; in a way that is sustainable, creating local jobs and local businesses.
Several years ago, The Rockefeller Foundation was the first to support our mission. Today, Rockefeller is doubling down on that mission by awarding us a second grant—bringing their total support of WeRobotics to $1.4M. We’re very excited to continue working with Rockefeller given the strong alignment in our respective visions. Their support will enable us in part to scale existing Flying Labs while continuing to grow our global network of Flying Labs. We recently launched South Pacific Flying Labs and will soon be launching Flying Labs in Panama, Senegal, Kenya, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
In addition, the grant will give us the opportunity to foster more direct South-to-South collaboration and intra-network capacity building between Flying Labs with a strong focus on women and girls. Furthermore, this latest grant will also enable us to dive deeper into 4 key thematic areas:
- Real-time aerial imagery analysis using artificial intelligence and machine learning;
- Integrated aerial, marine, orbital and/or terrestrial robotics for social good projects;
- Building Digital State capacity in robotics by guiding technical reforms for governments;
- Testing and evaluating cargo drone deliveries of medical supplies to rural areas.
We’re excited and very grateful to receive this significant vote of confidence from such a major international foundation. We’re equally grateful to the entire team at WeRobotics, at our Flying Labs, our Board of Directors and Advisory Board, and to our many partners around the world for their invaluable support and for sharing our drone adventures. Join us!
Other WeRobotics donors include The Hewlett Foundation, Autodesk Foundation, Atlassian Foundation, USAID, Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) amongst others.