Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence launched the Sixth Sense open innovation platform in January 2022. Our goal is to create an ecosystem bringing scaling start-ups together with some of the world’s biggest companies, to turn real-world problems into transformative solutions and share valuable resources.

The Sixth Sense platform aims to take start-ups with advanced tech from minimum viable product to global commercialisation, leading the way for innovation in the smart manufacturing space.

We invite proposals from scaling start-ups and set specific challenges based on the pressing demands our customers are facing. In return, participating companies get access to our technology, world-beating data and our customers.

Milan Kocić, head of Sixth Sense for Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, said: “Sixth Sense will build a bridge between small businesses and larger manufacturers, helping overcome start-ups’ challenges with scaling, while simultaneously meeting the industry’s need for new ideas.”


First cohort

The first Sixth Sense pitch day took place in March, where we heard from 13 passionate and ambitious innovators working on potentially transformative solutions in the smart manufacturing space. The quality of the pitches gave our panel of expert judges a difficult task in choosing just seven. Still, after much deliberation, we selected our first cohort of scaling start-ups IconPro, SmartUQ, Eyeflow AI, Praemo, SmartParts, SMARTPM and RIIICO.

For two months, the companies underwent an intensive innovate-on-the-job program. They collaborated with the Hexagon MI team to develop the projects they were going to introduce on the Demo Day and worked with our team of experts, coaches and mentors to refine their business plans, pitches and technology.

On 25 May, the first cohort gathered in Tobacco Dock in London for the first Sixth Sense Demo Day. The start-ups presented their ideas to an advisory board of industry experts to secure Hexagon’s support in bringing their product or service to a global audience. The three winners were:

  • RIIICO – a software and AI company aiming to transform the manufacturing industry by delivering cutting edge, interactive digital twins of factories.
  • SmartParts – the start-up that is working on the integrated solution combining materials, hardware and software to connect manufacturing data to additive materials and parts.
  • Praemo – the company building Razor™ — an analytics engine combining industry expertise with AI and the IIoT to predict and prevent disruption to operations.

The program had a tremendously positive effect on the progress of our first alums. Highlights from other members of the cohort since include: 

  • Eyeflow.AI have launched a new and unique product that has found a niche in the market through the inspection of stamped metals. 
  • SMARTPM’s Metaflex product family has been selected as one of the top 3 innovative solutions in the Metal Madrid Exhibition. Their MIC automation platform has won Most Innovative Industry 4.0 solution in the BIEMH22 out of more than 100 other candidates. 
  • SmartUQ has signed up eight new customers and ten new resellers across the globe.


Second Cohort

In July, Sixth Sense announced its second challenge, aimed at advanced manufacturing start-ups in visualisation and digital reality, and intelligence and automation. 

In October, we shortlisted 12 companies to join us at the second Pitch Day and on 02 November, start-ups pitched their ideas to impress Hexagon’s expert judges.

Eight companies became part of the second cohort: CASTOR, Threedy, Oculavis, 3YOURMIND, GelSight, Augmentir, Teratonics and JITbase. 

For the second cohort, we kept in mind what we learned with our first selection of brilliant entrepreneurs. Moreover, we have developed a new training program for them, including:  

  • Workshopping their project fit to the market
  • Identifying profit and cost drivers
  • Pitch training
  • Weekly mentor meetings
  • Fireside chats with industry leaders
  • Networking opportunities with Hexagon customers and partners

The second innovate-on-the-job program is now in full swing. Start-ups have just over one more month before the final challenge – the Demo Day, which will happen on 01 February in the Hague at the recently built, spectacular Titaan innovation hub. The two-day event will culminate our journey with the Second Cohort and explore the future of automation and digital reality in manufacturing.

What’s next?

We are proud of the program’s success and plan to continue developing Sixth Sense further. Even though the second challenge is not over yet, we already have a plan for the third.

Next year, we will look for start-ups in Smart Sustainable Manufacturing. If you are one of the companies building products in related domains and you think you have a great product/market fit, we would like to hear from you. Broad challenge areas:

  • Big data
  • Machine learning
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Sensors
  • Sustainability
  • Robotics
  • Mixed reality

Milan Kocic, the Head of Sixth Sense: “Sixth Sense is here for start-ups first and foremost. The way we see it, if we can enable a start-up to become the next unicorn, we’re successful. If we can help to bring transformative solutions to a global audience, we’re successful.”

By collaborating, we push the boundaries of design, manufacturing and engineering and start to imagine a better future for the benefit of everyone – enabling an autonomous future with people at its heart.

See you in 2023!