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Big News: Rockefeller Foundation Teams Up with WeRobotics!

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May 17th, 2016

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By Patrick Meier

The world is experiencing an unprecedented shift from manually controlled technologies to increasingly intelligent autonomous systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI). We believe this radical shift in efficiency and productivity can have significant positive social impact if it is channeled responsibly, locally and sustainably. This is why we founded WeRobotics, the only organization fully dedicated to accelerating and scaling humanitarian, development and environmental projects through appropriate robotics solutions.

With this vision in mind, we’re excited to share some big news with everyone: the Rockefeller Foundation has just awarded a generous start-up grant to WeRobotics so we can launch our global efforts! We’re absolutely thrilled that the world-renowned Rockefeller Foundation fully shares our vision of an emerging world where outstanding local organizations are empowered to accelerate and scale their social good impact through the use of appropriate robotics solutions. To be sure, Rockefeller is the first major international donor to support an NGO that is fully dedicated to resilience building through AI and Robotics for Good. We are truly grateful for their thought-leadership and forward-thinking philanthropy. WeRobotics looks forward to working closely with the Rockefeller Foundation, partners and other grantees including the Global Resilience Partnership.

“We must take bold, audacious steps to making sure that vulnerable populations are able to withstand the shocks and stresses that our changing world is throwing up. We look forward to working with WeRobotics to disrupt business as usual, and explore and harness the new opportunities that technology provides to support our communities to grow and thrive resiliently,” states Dr Luca Alinovi, Executive Director of the Global Resilience Partnership. The Partnership aims to help millions of vulnerable people in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia prepare for unexpected shocks and adapt to chronic stresses so they can thrive in a more secure future.

This is a big deal for all of us working in the AI/Robotics for Good space. Like the prestigious International Drones and Robotics for Good Awards in Dubai where we recently launched WeRobotics, this important grant from the Foundation is a clear recognition that AI/Robotics stands to play an increasingly significant and positive role in humanitarian, development and environmental efforts worldwide. What’s more, the Foundation fully supports the strategy we're using to scale this positive impact: by co-creating and co-hosting Flying Labs (local innovation labs) that empower outstanding local partners with appropriate robotics solutions and relevant skills. Our Flying Labs will serve as an international preparedness network and an essential driver of city resilience worldwide.

The funding from Rockefeller will make possible the co-creation of 3 Flying Labs during our first year; one each in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We’ll be formally announcing the location of these 3 Flying Labs along with the list of local partners for each of the Labs in the coming months. We’ll also use the deep experience we gain from co-creating these Labs with our local partners to build a “Self-Starter Kit” so that others can self-organize their own Flying Labs and link up with WeRobotics. Think of the TED conference and the tremendous success of their self-organized TEDx model; we’ll aim to co-create and to catalyze self-organized Labs in order to build and connect a truly global community -- the “We” in WeRobotics.

We’ll also use the Rockefeller grant to grow our team and to organize WeR Global, an international conference fully dedicated to exploring the responsible and ethical use of intelligent autonomous systems for humanitarian aid, global development and environmental protection. Stay in touch with us to learn about many other exciting plans we have in store for 2016 and how you can get involved. Thanks to the Rockefeller Foundation’s trust and support, we’ll be able to turn these plans into reality. We’re excited and we can’t wait to get started! Join us!

Acknowledgements: We’re very grateful to our outstanding team of lawyers at Foley Hoag LLP for their expert guidance towards establishing WeRobotics as a corporate and 501(c)(3) non-profit entity. We’d also like to extend our sincere thanks to colleagues Michael Kleinman and Timothy Reuter for their time and invaluable guidance.

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