Hiwin Technologies Corp (上銀), the nation’s largest machine tool supplier, said it plans to invest NT$50 million (US$1.53 million) over the next five years on a robotics research center to step up its expansion into sophisticated rehabilitation robots.
As machine tool demand slumps due to competition from global rivals and a weak global economy, China in particular, Hiwin sees robotics and industrial automation systems as its new revenue growth drivers.
Hiwin chairman Eric Chuo (卓永財) in July said that the company is expanding into the rehabilitation robot segment.
Hiwin on Saturday signed an agreement with China Medical University to jointly form a research center that is to focus on rehabilitation robotics.
“The research center aims to develop cutting-edge technologies in the medical care sector and to help nurture high-end talent in those areas,” Chuo said in a statement.
The company plans to invest NT$10 million a year over the next five years, or a longer period of time, in the center.
Hiwin also plans to expand the center’s scope by inviting professors from different universities to join the program, it said.
Hiwin develops its own rehabilitation robotics and it expects to receive Chinese approval next month, paving the way for it to expand its business to China.
The company began shipping robots to Europe earlier this year.
Hiwin said rehabilitation robotics would still account for a small share of its revenue this year after diversifying into the segment about seven years ago.
The robotics business is expected to account for less than 5 percent of Hiwin’s overall revenue of NT$16.54 billion this year, Yuanta Securities Corp (元大證券) analyst Christine Wang said in a report last month.
Wang last month retained her “underperform” rating on Hiwin, saying there were no signs of end-demand improvement for industrial automation systems in the second half of this year.
Wang cut the stock’s 12-month target price to NT$152, the lowest valuation in five years, from NT$204.
Hiwin shares fell 0.82 percent to close at NT$182 in Taipei trading on Friday.