‘Digital reality’ start-ups awarded a fast-track route to scale

Posted on 3 Feb 2023 by Joe Bush

Manufacturing technology giant Hexagon has announced the winners of its open innovation programme, Sixth Sense.

This saw eight ambitious ‘digital reality’ start-ups compete to win the unique opportunity to scale with Hexagon’s expansive customer base, which includes Audi, Airbus, and Meta. Hexagon is a multibillion dollar manufacturing robotics and software provider, whose technology touches 95% of all cars, 90% of all aircraft and 85% of all smartphones produced each year.


After an exhilarating pitch day at The Hague, the winning start-up and runner-up are:

GelSight, winner, uses high-resolution 3D ‘digital touch’ technology to augment the inspection process, increasing productivity, reducing inspection costs, and potentially lowering scrap cost.

Its innovative elastomeric tactile sensor technology conforms like human skin to the shape of an object on contact, capturing the topography of any surface faster and with much more detail than manual inspection.

CASTOR, runner-up, uses intelligent software to automate the process of analysing product designs, highlighting specific, high-value opportunities for additive manufacturing informed by technical, economical, and environmental factors.

CASTOR’s software analyses thousands of parts simultaneously and offers deep technical analysis of a complete machine design, identifying cost reduction opportunities, suggesting geometry changes to the part’s design, and estimating the cost and lead time.

For example, CASTOR can assist with reducing a part’s weight by 40% – a relatively easy target for 3D printed parts – and reveal that it can save ten percent of emissions.

Hexagon will now award the start-ups with support to go global, using Hexagon’s vast resources and connections with manufacturing leaders.

Head of Sixth Sense, Milan Kocić commented: “It was vigorous debate as to who should win, which is only testament to the hard work of this cohort over the last ten weeks. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone for their time and dedication to Sixth Sense.

“Our biggest goal is to get to know start-ups in the manufacturing landscape better and support them in their journeys. We are excited to continue our work with GelSight and CASTOR, both of which have developed some incredibly impressive solutions that work in harmony with Hexagon’s existing portfolio. But rest assured the collaborations and friendships we have formed across the cohort will continue too.”

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