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KUKA Innovation Award 2025

Find out more about our Medical Robotics Challenge 2.0 here!


The application deadline is over

Find out more about the new finalists and their innovative concepts here shortly.

Medical Robotics Challenge 2.0

The KUKA Innovation Award 2025 primarily targets the interaction of robotic systems with humans in the medical environment and robots being part of future medical applications. The focus is on the introduction and demonstration of new, innovative and interactive methods for improving health and care. This includes applications with direct interaction with a patient for diagnosis, rehabilitation, surgery and other forms of therapy.

Judges

The jury consists of renowned professors from the fields of robotics and medicine, founders in the field of medical technology, doctors, an editor from a leading global magazine and experts from industry. An exchange and contact with such experts is often a springboard for further projects.

Innovation Award Jury 2025
  • Evan Ackerman

    Picture of jury member Mr. Ackermann

    Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum, where he has been writing about robots, science, and emerging technology for over 10 years. After co-founding his own robotics blog in 2007, he began writing for IEEE Spectrum in 2011. In addition to Spectrum, Evan’s work has appeared in a variety of other websites and print magazines, and you may have heard him talking about robots on NPR’s Science Friday or the BBC World Service if you were listening at just the right time. Evan currently lives in Washington DC, and a steadily growing collection of robot vacuums. In his spare time, he enjoys scuba diving, rehabilitating injured raptors, and playing bagpipes excellently.

  • Patrick Andreas Meere

    Patrick Andreas Meere is Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at New York University Grossman School of Medicine with 30-year surgical expertise in the clinical integration of advanced technology to the field of joint arthroplasty, specifically knee and hip replacement. He was instrumental in the pioneering development of navigated instrumentation, sensor-based kinetic balancing of the knee, and multiple robotic assisted surgical protocols. Dr. Meere has trained generations of Adult Reconstructive Fellows and Visiting Colleagues in Robotic Surgery and has authored numerous articles and book chapters in the field. In 2015, he founded and directed the Laboratory for Advanced Arthroplasty Research and Robotic Surgery (LAARS) at the NYU Langone Orthopaedic Hospital. He has served as Senior Consultant to major implant companies and start-ups. His involvement with the International Society for Computer Assisted Orthopaedic Surgery had led him to be the President of the 2019 New York CAOS International Meeting and the Past Chairman of the Society. He is also an active member of the International Society for Technology in Arthroplasty (ISTA). He holds a BSc Honours Degree in Physics from McGill University in Montreal, where he also obtained his Medicine and Surgery Doctorate. His current field of research focuses on integrated intra-operative data capture with Machine Learning protocols as well as collaborative robotic integration in the Operating Theater.

  • Henry Norton 

    Henry Norton

    Henry Norton is the Managing Director and Founder of RW Search. A MedTech search and advisory business who are THE experts in Surgical Robotics. RW’s mission is to place visionaries in leading companies to help us live longer healthier lives. Having worked with surgical robotics companies from napkin sketch to the global corporations, Henry and the team are committed to building companies, careers and the industry.

    Along with his work in search, Henry is the host of The Surgibots Podcast, which has a simple aim, tell the stories of the surgical robotics industry some of the companies hosted include; Moon Surgical, Stereotaxis, Promaxo, Nanoflex Technologies and many more. Find it on spotify and apple podcasts.

  • Prof. Oussama Khatib

    Picture of jury member Oussama Khatib

    Oussama Khatib received his PhD from Sup’Aero, Toulouse, France, in 1980. He is Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Robotics Laboratory at Stanford University. His research focuses on methodologies and technologies in human-centered robotics, haptic interactions, artificial intelligence, human motion synthesis and animation. He is President of the International Foundation of Robotics Research (IFRR) and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He is Editor of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics (STAR) series, and the Springer Handbook of Robotics, awarded the American Publishers Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences and Mathematics. He is recipient of the IEEE Robotics and Automation (IEEE/RAS) Pioneering Award (for his fundamental contributions in robotics research, visionary leadership and life-long commitment to the field), the IEEE/RAS George Saridis Leadership Award, the Distinguished Service Award, the Japan Robot Association (JARA) Award, the Rudolf Kalman Award, and the IEEE Technical Field Award. Professor Khatib is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

  • Josef de Pfeiffer 

    DePfeiffer

    Josef de Pfeiffer is founder of SurgicalRoboticsTechnology.com (SRT), the world’s leading online publication and sourcing platform for the surgical robotics industry. Prior to founding SRT, Josef was the commercial leader for Novanta’s Precision Motion business providing sensing technologies into many of the emerging and established surgical robotic systems. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of East Anglia and a master’s degree in Global Marketing with Innovation. Other platforms within Josef’s portfolio include eVehicleTechnology.com, HumanoidTechnology.com and RestaurantRoboticsTechnology.com.

  • Volker Schmirgel

    During his career at KUKA, Volker Schmirgel has been responsible for various research and development activities in the field of robotics. After completing his studies in electrical engineering, specialising in robotics, at RWTH Aachen University, Volker Schmirgel began his career at KUKA in 2006. For more than five years, he worked on and headed various research projects in KUKA's Corporate Research department. He was then responsible for the market launch of the first collaborative robot "LBR iiwa" in close collaboration with R&D. From 2016, his focus was on the development of software and hardware for a new human-robot collaboration (HRC) robot system. This work resulted in the KUKA LBR iisy and later in the KUKA LBR iisy product family.
    Volker Schmirgel has headed KUKA's Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) since 2023.

  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Stefano Stramigioli

    Picture of jury member Stefano Stramigioli

    Stefano Stramigioli is professor of Advanced Robotics at the University of Twente and chair of the Robotics And Mechatronics (RAM) Lab, a large lab of more than fifty people working on all different aspects of imaging, mechatronics and robotics. The group is broad and multidisciplinary. Thanks to its size and spectrum, it is able to compete at the international level with other research groups of similar or bigger sizes in their field. 

    Stramigioli covers a number of additional external positions: He has been the founder of the first robotics center in the Netherlands LEO Center of Service Robotics (2008), (formerly known as Romech). He was also founder of RoboNED (2010), which is now transitioned to Holland Robotics. Furthermore, he currently serves a second term as Vice President Research of euRobotics, representing the private part of SPARC, the contractual PPP with the European Commission running the biggest Civil robotic program worldwide for the last years. He is also co-chairing the Bio-mechatronics and Energy-Efficient Robotics Lab at ITMO University, St.Petersburg, Russia.

  • Axel Weber

    Picture of the jury member Axel Weber

    Axel Weber is Vice President Medical Robotics at KUKA. The graduated engineer joined the Augsburg-based automation specialist via various stations and has been dedicated to the medical sector since 2012. KUKA is a leading supplier of robotic components for medical devices. It is the only globally operating robotics company with an entire business unit dedicated to medical robotics. KUKA robots are frequently being integrated in medical devices. The applications vary from diagnostics to therapy. Due to the product portfolio of KUKA, medical device companies can choose from cobots to robots with heavy payloads for carrying heavy medical equipment.