The Pransky interview: Charlie Duncheon, robotics serial entrepreneur, CEO and cofounder of Celltrio
Article publication date: 26 February 2021
Issue publication date: 19 March 2021
The purpose of this paper is to provide a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned entrepreneur regarding his pioneering efforts in the industrial robot industry and the commercialization and challenges of bringing robotic inventions to market. This paper aims to discuss these issues.
The interviewee is Charlie Duncheon, CEO, Cofounder and Chairman of the Board at Celltrio, Inc, a manufacturer of automation-based solutions for the life sciences industry. Duncheon shares his nearly 40-year journey as a robotics industry executive and entrepreneur, including his achievements and challenges.
Charlie Duncheon received a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. At Monsanto, the first company he worked for after college, he worked his way up to be the Chairman of the Corporate Robotics Task Force. Duncheon then chose to work for the startup Fared Robot Systems, Inc., where he became the VP of Sales. In 1984, he joined Adept Technology at its inception and became Senior VP. About 20 years later, Duncheon founded his own consulting company, Duncheon Associates, and from the multiple consulting contracts he executed in automation, he was asked four different times to serve as the company CEO of the new companies: Artificial Muscle, Inc., EIG America, Grabit, Inc. and Celltrio, Inc., the last three which he also cofounded.
Charlie Duncheon, with a passion for robotic engineering and love for new challenges, led seven different robot companies to successful growth. His major accomplishments include establishing an unprecedented worldwide channel of 100+ integrators while at Adept Technology, growing Adept to $100m+ revenues and an initial public offering; being promoted to CEO of Artificial Muscle, Inc., later acquired by Bayer Material Science LLC; founding EIG America and transferring lithium battery technology from EIG Korea to the US market; and cofounding Grabit, Inc., raising two venture backed rounds of several million dollars. Duncheon is the recipient of the Joseph Engelberger Award for Leadership in Robotics. He is currently an Executive in Residence at Purdue University and a mentor for Plug and Play Tech Center. He was elected President of the Robotics Industries Association (RIA) and served a total of eight years on the RIA Board. He holds patents for automated material handling and electroadhesion grippers. His proudest accomplishment was the successful publication of his book, Reflections of a 5th Grade Girls Basketball Coach.
Pransky, J. (2021), "The Pransky interview: Charlie Duncheon, robotics serial entrepreneur, CEO and cofounder of Celltrio", Industrial Robot, Vol. 48 No. 1, pp. 1-5. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-09-2020-0213
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