Universal Robots (UR) has named Kim Povlsen its new president. He will begin his role at UR on March 1, leading the cobot arm pioneer into its next stage of growth.
Povlsen, a Danish native, held various executive business and technology leadership roles at Schneider Electric, a global energy management and automation company. He most recently served as VP, Strategy & Technology, and was responsible for the technology strategy and execution within a multi-billion dollar global organization. Kim holds a master’s degree in Computer Science & Embedded Engineering from the University of Southern Denmark. UR, an RBR50 company, is based in Odense, Denmark.
Povlsen replaces Jürgen von Hollen, who stepped down at the end of 2020 after four-plus years as president of UR. von Hollen was named CEO of Ultimaker, a Dutch 3D printer manufacturer. He helped UR more than double it sales since 2018 and hand delivered UR’s 50,000th cobot, which was sold to a German manufacturer.
“I have been impressed with Universal Robots for some time,” said Povlsen. “To me, the company represents the pinnacle of innovation and potential and I was thrilled to be approached for this unique leadership role. The company not only pioneered the category of collaborative robots, created an ecosystem of partner technology solutions and a vast global distribution network to serve customers in their varied industrial automation needs, it also has the potential to fundamentally reshape automation across the global economy. I really look forward to working with, learning from and being part of the great people at Universal Robots.”
AutoGuide Mobile Robots, Energid, Mobile Industrial Robots and UR are owned by Teradyne. Greg Smith, president of Teradyne’s Industrial Automation Group, and acting president of UR, recently said on The Robot Report Podcast that perhaps von Hollen thought his job at UR was done.
“He loved the journey that he went on at Universal Robots. When he joined in 2016, UR did less than $100 million in revenue. In 2019, we did $250 million [in revenue],” said Smith. “He basically managed a 36% growth rate over that period. When he joined, we just shipped our 10,000th robot. When he left, we shipped our 50,000th robot. He built something amazing, in terms of this overall structure. I think he loved that phase a lot, inventing the global organization and building it out into a world-class company. That really got him going. With Ultimaker, he saw the opportunity to do that again.”
Smith also said on the podcast that someone who loves robots is the right person to run UR. The person needs to be able to simultaneously run a “world-class manufacturing and distribution company, then walk to a meeting where you’re coming up with the ideas on how to open up automation to new areas.”
“Kim combines a fantastic track record as a dynamic executive with a background in and a tremendous passion for robotics,” Smith said in a statement about the appointment. “With Kim on board, Universal Robots is poised to strengthen its leadership in the global market for collaborative robotics. With Kim’s leadership, we can accelerate the growth in new applications and market growth for cobots.
“Universal Robots was one of the original companies at the core of the Odense innovation hub for robotics, and our global customers recognize the innovation and quality of that Danish heritage. I’m thrilled to have a Danish executive who can build on our achievements and support the further development of our robotics hub and headquarters in Odense.”
The Odense robotics cluster recently released a report highlighting its successes despite the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, investments of more than EUR 50 million were made last year in Funen-based robotic companies, bringing the total investment figure since 2015 to more than EUR 860 million. Funen, the third-largest island on Denmark, is home to Odense, the third-largest city in the country.