Marvelmind Robotics, a resident startup of the Skolkovo Foundation that makes indoor GPS technology, has won the first prize of 5 million yuan ($740,000) at the Slush Shanghai pitching competition for the best seed-stage companies.

Marvelmind Robotics won 5 million yuan, as well as tickets to the upcoming Slush event in Helsinki. Photo:

The startup, which became a resident of the foundation’s space cluster earlier this year, makes high-precision navigation technology for use inside buildings that can be used by autonomous robots and copters or in virtual reality, for example. The company says its technology is accurate to within two centimetres.

“I came here to tell local clients about our project and to show it to potential investors, in case anyone was interested, and also to take part in the pitching competition, because it’s a great opportunity to show our product to a large audience,” Maxim Tretyakov, head of Marvelmind Robotics, told by phone from Shanghai shortly after the result was announced.

“People kindly decided that our product is good enough to give it first prize,” he said.

The company has already sold its product in 30 countries and continues to expand.

Marvelmind Robotics presenting its solution in Shanghai. Photo:

“I hope that with the help of Skolkovo, we’ll progress even further,” Tretyakov told  

Vladimir Puchkov, the company’s project manager within Skolkovo’s space cluster, said the victory was thoroughly deserved.

“Marvelmind has developed an original solution for the precise positioning of mobile objects, and their technology works both indoors and outdoors: it can be used for autonomous robots on the ground, and copters in the air,” he said.

“It uses ultrasound waves for the precise determination of distances, and the transducers use a 433 MHz frequency to synchronise their data,” Puchkov explained. “As of now, we don’t know of any other such projects,” he said, adding that ultra-wideband technology, used in competing indoor GPS solutions, is several times more expensive.

Puchkov said Marvelmind’s technology also has the advantage of being quick to install in any premises

“Their kits for developers consist of four transducers and software, and cost about $450. They are being snapped up around the world by technology universities, laboratories and companies working in robotics and unmanned aerial vehicles,” he said.

Puchkov said he had first met Tretyakov this spring at the Skolkovo Robotics event, where Marvelmind’s system was on show. The company’s founder complained that he had nowhere to test his system, as his office was too small and people were reluctant to let tech developers test their projects in large premises.

“In about a week, Marvelmind’s engineers were already testing their product on a daily basis inside the Skolkovo Technopark and outside it,” said Puchkov. “They filmed a promotional video for their site, and Maxim submitted an application to become a resident of Skolkovo. Having obtained that status, Maxim set about improving the design of the transducers, obtaining certification and searching for major clients and investors,” he added.

“We’re really pleased for Maxim and his team. The guys at Marvelmind have worked really hard and truly deserve their victory in Shanghai,” said Puchkov.

In addition to the financial reward, the company also won an invitation and travel tickets to the Slush event in Helsinki at the end of this month. Slush was founded in the Finnish capital as a competition for hi-tech startups, and now also holds events in Tokyo, Singapore and Shanghai. Many Skolkovo startups are taking part in the Helsinki event on November 30-December 1.