UNB Spin-Out Eigen Innovations Lands $250,000 From NBIF
May 14th, 2015
Aiming to improve its industrial Internet of things technology, Eigen Innovations in Fredericton has landed a $250,000 investment as part of a funding round it hopes will amount to $750,000.
The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation said Tuesday it will invest in the company, which makes automated systems to help manufacturers refine their processes.
The funding is another step in the development of New Brunswick’s industrial Internet of things cluster, in which automated systems gather data from machines, analyze it and give machines instructions with greater speed and precision than a human could. There are estimates that 50 billion devices will be connected to each other like this by the end of the decade.
“Today’s production line is very complex, with modern machines that generate extreme amounts of data, and many companies are not equipped to process and utilize it,” said Eigen CEO Richard Jones.
“The ‘industrial Internet’ is a $3-trillion market, and Eigen is well-positioned to be an early differentiator in this space.”
A graduate of the PropelICT tech accelerator, Eigen’s product, Intellexon, helps manufacturers improve production efficiency and reduce waste. The system uses algorithms developed under the guidance of researcher and co-founder Rickey Dubay at the University of New Brunswick. Eigen chief technology officer Scott Everett is a graduate research assistant at the university.
In a phone interview, Jones said Eigen has five multinational clients, each in a separate industry: food processing, mining, automotive, pulp and paper and construction.
Eigen is working with partners, including Oregon’s FLIR Systems Inc., the world’s largest thermal camera and sensor maker, to further develop Intellexon to suit these customers’ needs.
Intellexon selects data from sensors and other sources in a customer’s plant and sends the relevant data to the cloud, where it is analyzed. Finally, it sends information back to the plant, where action is taken. All of this happens in real time, so the actions are precise.
Jones said the goal is to use the system’s algorithms to produce predictive analytics so Intellexon can take even more efficient action.
The money from the foundation (which advertises on Entrevestor) and a range of angel investors will be used to help simplify the processes, Jones said.
Eigen must work closely with clients to implement the system, and it wants Intellexon to become so intuitive that plant managers can install and operate it on their own.
“One of the things we’ve been putting a lot of effort into is to take what we’ve learned from the customer engagement and embed more automation so it requires less hands-on intervention,” said Jones.
“We want to make the software more scalable and so you don’t need a PhD in science (to use it).”
Jones said that as the company proves it has repeatable, scalable technology, it aims to raise a multimillion-dollar funding round.
Two other members of the New Brunswick industrial Internet of things community raised significant venture capital rounds recently. Moncton’s RtTech Software closed a $3-million round in February, and Fredericton’s Smart Skin Technologies landed $3.9 million in funding in January 2014.