AI startup funding is on the rise as Switzerland-based EthonAI raises $16.5M

As factories and production plants became «smarter” through sensors, robotics and other related technologies, this has created a potential treasure trove of data that can be mined for insight into bottlenecks and other areas for improvement. Or maybe even just speed up processes that would otherwise require significant manual support work.

But most of this generated data is unstructured and not easy to use. While big data analytics has been a mainstay of industries such as finance and logistics for years, it hasn’t fully made its way into manufacturing. This has created an untapped goldmine of insights and, more recently, a new market for technologies designed to capture and understand a wide range of production data.

Last month, Oden Technologies, founded in Great Britainnow based in New York, he raised a $28.5 million Series B round to fuel the growth of its data analytics platform for manufacturers. German Daedalus raised $21 million apply AI to precision manufacturing factories. And Belgium Robovision has secured $42 million introducing computer vision intelligence into industrial machines.

Now is EthonAI’s turn, as a Swiss startup announced It raised CHF 15 million ($16.5 million) in a Series A funding round on Thursday led by Index Ventureswith the participation of General Catalyst, Earlybird and Founderful.

EthonAI co-founders Julian Senoner (CEO, left) and Bernhard Kratzwald (CTO, right) at the Siemens factory in Zug, Switzerland
EthonAI co-founders Julian Senoner (CEO, left) and Bernhard Kratzwald (CTO) at the Siemens factory in Zug, Switzerland. Image credits: EthonAI
Image credits: EthonAI

EthonAI finds defects in products

Founded in Zurich in 2021 by CEO Julian Senoner and CTO Bernhard Kratzwald, EthonAI can train AI models for specific use cases, for example in electronics manufacturing where the customer supplies error-free product images and EthonAI Inspector the software can then identify product surface defects during the manufacturing and assembly process. Apple recently bought the company DarwinAI which serves a similar purpose, in terms of automating the process of visual quality management in the production of components.

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However, more broadly, EthonAI can combine data from a company’s entire production system, from sensors to the line stopsand build a picture of where things are and aren’t working well — and even compare performance across multiple facilities to see where there might be room for improvement.

In its three-year history, EthonAI has amassed some pretty high-profile clients, including Siemens and chocolate maker Lindt.

Research into EthonAI’s target markets reveals that semiconductor manufacturing is one particular area of ​​focus, although the company has not identified any specific customers in this area. However, low yield is a known concern in the chip sector, where deficiencies in silicon tiles may affect the number of actually usable chips after production. Namely, Apple reportedly reached an agreement last year with chip maker TSMC that apparently was particularly low rates of return (only 55% at the time), with Apple making a deal pay only for known good wafers — saving billions dollars in the process.

EthonAI, for its part, says it is working with a «leading semiconductor manufacturer» that uses its platform to bring together multiple data sets to perform analysis and spot previously unknown relationships between processes, equipment and yield rates.

«Manufacturing is at a critical crossroads, and companies that fail to adapt to AI risk being left behind,» Senoner said in a press release. «Factories produce mountains of data, and AI is the key to uncovering insights to drive operational excellence.»

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