Eigen Grows Quickly In Hot Segment
December 03rd, 2013
Eigen Innovations Inc. is a New Brunswick company that ticks a lot of boxes on investors’ checklists.
The Fredericton startup has a strong industrial partner, patented software and an early adopter that will pay for its product. What’s more, it’s working in one of the sexiest segments of the technology sector, the industrial Internet.
The industrial Internet refers to the integration of complex physical machinery with networked sensors and software. It encompasses such fields as machine learning, big data, and machine-to-machine communication to gather data from machines, analyze it quickly, and use it to adjust the machines.
Eigen has taken algorithms developed at the University of New Brunswick and is using them to automate manufacturing processes, with the food processing industry as its first target market. The product will use thermal cameras to make sure food is processed as thoroughly and efficiently as possible.
Co-founder and CTO Scott Everett said the industrial Internet is a great market to be in as it has the potential to impact $32 trillion in industrial output, or roughly 46 per cent of the global gross domestic product.
“The industrial Internet is a massive opportunity,” said Everett in an interview. “What we’ve done is develop an Internet-based decision-making algorithm that does real-time optimization of manufacturing equipment.”
The theory behind the Eigen product is that modern manufacturing plants have hundreds of settings on their machines. It is impossible for a human or even a team of humans to set all these dials simultaneously. The Eigen software automatically ensures all these variables are set at their optimum levels throughout the manufacturing process.
Everett worked with UNB mechanical engineering professor Rickey Dubay to develop and patent the algorithms. They needed help developing their project into the business, so Everett has taken the company through the Launch36 accelerator to receive business mentorship.
About a month ago, the team was upgraded greatly when Richard Jones, the former CEO of energy management company Shift Energy, joined the company as its chief executive. He takes over a company that already has laid out an impressive path to market.
Eigen has developed a partnership with Portland, Ore.-based Flir Systems, the largest global provider of thermal cameras. Its camera sensors detect 80,000 pixels and each pixel is a thermal reading. However, the cameras need the Eigan algorithms to interpret that data and instruct the machines to react to the data in real time.
Everett said that 60 to 80 per cent of the energy used in the food processing business is devoted to heating food up or cooling it down. So Eigen has set out to ensure the heat in a cooking operation is applied properly so there is no wasted food because of improper cooking or wasted energy.
Eigen has already lined up its first customer, though Everett declined to name the company. He added that Flir Systems has agreed to introduce Eigen to five of its clients in the food processing industry.
Eigen, who pitched to potential investors at the Launch36 Demo Day last month, is now seeking $500,000 in investment to develop its business.