KUKA Innovation Award 2023

In the "Open Platform Challenge" we are looking for innovative applications with our new KUKA LBR iisy!

The application phase is over

We will publish all further information about the finalists and their applications here shortly.

The challenge

The KUKA Innovation Award 2023 comes with big news: For the first time the competition will be based on our newly introduced iiQKA robot operating system and the iiQKA ecosystem. This enables the robotics community to implement their own hardware and software extensions on a KUKA robot much easier than before, making a modern, powerful and scalable basis for technology innovation within robotics available.

In the same spirit we defined the motto for this year’s award: The Open Platform challenge. The availability of open interfaces in iiQKA is one of its key strengths, and we want to see what the applicants can dream up to take advantage of these interfaces and extend the robot system by their own hardware and software components in order to deal with typical tasks in production much faster and easier. This means this year all participants have the freedom to do whatever they have in mind- there are almost no limits for ideas.

Be the next pioneer

Many tasks in small and medium sized companies are not automated yet. Your contribution shall simplify the engineering, setup and programming for target customers, who are producing varying products in small to medium lot sizes. Your contribution shall leverage iiQKA and the LBR iisy as a flexible tool for machine tending, glue dispensing, quality inspection or other typical automation tasks. In that way, the end user is able to quickly and safely automate tasks, without being an expert in the automation domain.

Send us your idea, describing use cases where robots today face major challenges in interacting with their real-world environment, including human-robot collaboration. The focus should be on introducing and demonstrating new and interactive methods for personalizing and improving usability.

Your concept should be versatile, perhaps even applicable outside the industrial field, and in no way limited to one technical approach to solving a specific use case. Participants from academia, research and industry are encouraged to present ideas that may lead to, or are already close to, commercialization.

What's in it for you?

  • KUKA LBR iisy free of charge

  • Free training and coaching

  • Presentation at a major industrial fair 2023

  • 20,000 € prize money for the winning team

  • Preview 1
  • Preview 2
  • Preview 3

Here you can find all further information about the application and the conditions of participation.


KUKA LBR iisy free of charge

You will have the opportunity to implement your ideas with a KUKA lightweight robot LBR iisy, which is provided free of charge and can optionally be expanded with a Roboception 3D vision system.

Free training and coaching

We invite you to Augsburg for a free training for the hardware and software. In addition, you will receive coaching from KUKA experts throughout the competition to be more effective in the implementation phase.

Presentation at a major industrial fair 2023

We offer you the opportunity to present your application to a broad audience consisting of representatives from industry and research, the media and interested trade fair visitors. You are a central part of KUKA's presence at a major German industrial trade fair.



20,000 € prize money for the winning team

The winner of the KUKA Innovation Award will be ceremonially chosen at the awards ceremony at the trade fair and will receive prize money of €20,000.


Take the chance to present your concept to our international panel of judges! It consists of renowned professors, medical experts from industry, a renowned journalist and a successful founder - experts who not only select the winner of the award but also give all finalists valuable feedback on their work. This exchange and the resulting contacts are often the starting point for further projects and collaborations.

  • Evan 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.

  • Prof. Dr. Alin Albu-Schäffer

    Alin Albu-Schäffer received the M.S. in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Timisoara, Romania in 1993 and the Ph.D. in automatic control from the Technical University of Munich in 2002. Since 2012 he is the head of the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which he joined in 1995. Moreover, he is a professor at the Technical University of Munich, holding the Chair for "Sensor Based Robotic Systems and Intelligent Assistance Systems". His research interests range from robot design and control to robot intelligence and human neuroscience. He centrally contributed to the development of the DLR-light-weight robot and its technology transfer to the KUKA company, leading to a paradigm shift in industrial robot applications towards light-weight, sensitive and interactive robotics. Alin Albu-Schäffer was as well strongly involved in the development of the MIRO surgical robot system and its commercialization through technology transfer to Covidien/Medtronic, the worldwide largest medical devices manufacturer. He is author of more than 270 peer reviewed journal and conference papers and received several awards.

  • Dr. Kristina Wagner

    Dr. Kristina Wagner received her PhD from RWTH Aachen University at the Institute for Number Theory and the Institute for Control Engineering. In 2008, Kristina Wagner spent a research stay at Melbourne University, and in 2010 she kicked off her career in technology and process consulting at Siemens AG in Munich.

    Since October 2015, Kristina Wagne has held various management positions at KUKA AG. As Vice President Corporate Research, she drives robotics innovation and technology development together with her team. In her additional role as Director RoX Program, she is responsible for KUKA's largest and key innovation program “RoX | The Robot X-perience” (product name: iiQKA) with the goal of redesigning and transforming KUKA's Robot Experience. As a result, the interaction between humans, tools and robots will be significantly improved.

    In 2021, Kristina Wagner was elected to the Board of euRobotics as well as to the digitalization board for the city of Augsburg.

  • Prof. 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.

  • Prof. Dr. Ir. 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.

  • Zlatina Deggendorfer

    Zlatina Deggendorfer received her degree in Applied Computer Science/Business Administration from the University of Augsburg in 2007. She then began her career as a software developer at various international companies and has been head of product management in the Applications division at KUKA since 2020.

    Together with her team, she is responsible for a broad, powerful portfolio of application software in the areas of handling, welding, vision and sensor technology, which can be used and expanded quickly and easily by KUKA customers and partners.

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