Neurala is a pioneer in AI-powered quality inspection providing advanced vision AI software for manufacturers.
We connected with Max Versace, CEO and Co-Founder of Neurala to get an update on the company and the details on their latest round of funding.
You also can listen to the background story of Neural by checking out our podcast interview with Max.
VentureFizz: We last caught up with Dr. Heather Ames about a year ago for our CxO Briefing series. Any update to the market or business problems you are solving?
Max Versace: When you last spoke with Heather, we’d just launched Neurala’s VIA (Vision Inspection Automation) software: a vision AI solution to help manufacturers improve quality inspections. We recognized a clear need for this technology in the market, especially amidst the pandemic. Manufacturers were facing – and continue to face to this day – irregular patterns in consumer demands, and heightened pressures on machine utilization, production efficiencies, and quality control. And in many cases, they need to address all of this with fewer people on the factory floor.
Manufacturers are turning to AI and automation to help them adapt to these new realities, and we’ve seen a lot of interest in Neurala’s technology as a result. In the last twelve months, we’ve increased our capacity to identify and resolve problems in manufacturing facilities through expert system integrator partners and well-entrenched suppliers. In addition to expanding our work with system integrators threefold, we’ve also worked with an increasing number of OEMs, including our industrial investors IMA, IHI Logistics & Machinery, and FLIR. All of this has helped us double down on the challenges we’re solving for manufacturers and get this technology into their hands more quickly.
VF: What has caused the manufacturing industry to embrace AI and the solutions that Neurala provides?
MV: We’ve always known that there was an opportunity for AI and automation to improve manufacturing – and that’s long been acknowledged by the industry too, as part of movements toward Industry 4.0. But as I mentioned, the pandemic really accelerated manufacturers’ willingness and desire to expediently embrace the technology.
Manufacturers are turning to AI and automation to address challenges such as production constraints, supply chain disruptions and imperfect workforce availability. They really need cost-effective solutions that can work within existing workflows, and on existing hardware and machinery; and they need technology that will have a material impact on productivity and decision-making. That’s why, with VIA, we’ve focused on building an easy-to-use AI solution that improves the speed and efficiency of inspections at a price point that makes it affordable for a wide range of customers.
Now that the world is ready to embrace AI and automation, Neurala is ready to deliver it.
VF: Congrats on the new round of funding. Can you share the details on this round of financing with our audience?
MV: Thank you! We’ve raised $12 million in a round led by Zebra Ventures and Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from Draper Associates, Friulia, AddValue, 360 Capital Partners, Idinvest Partners, and Cougar Capital, and industrial investors IMA and Antares Vision.
The new funding will enable us to evolve and accelerate adoption of our vision AI in industrial and manufacturing on a global scale, building on the momentum I mentioned previously. We will also be able to evolve VIA to make it more efficient for a wider range of applications and use cases.
I’m really proud of our technology and our team for getting us to this milestone. This past year we were able to turn a global crisis into an opportunity to both completely transform our business and to catalyze much-needed innovation in the AI space. And we’re just getting started!
VF: What's the current size of the team and what are your plans in terms of hiring over the next 12 months?
MV: We are currently a team of 30 people, and are hiring sales, software engineering and research personnel, many based in Europe, to support our growth efforts. We have already begun the recruitment process and plan to hire a dozen people within the next 12 months.
VF: What are the details on Neurala's new subsidiary in Europe?
MV: Earlier this month we launched our European subsidiary, Neurala Europe, based in Italy. Having a presence in Europe solidifies Neurala’s global footprint and positions us as a catalyst for growth of industrial and manufacturing innovation, in and outside of the United States. Specifically, it will be key in enabling us to provide on-the-ground expertise and support for our European partners, VARs and manufacturing customers.
In many ways, incorporating the subsidiary represents a homecoming for me, and for Neurala. I was born and raised in the Friuli region and have always had a connection to Italy. Naturally, I am thrilled to officially extend the bridge between Italy and the United States. My goal is to marry Neurala’s AI expertise with Europe’s drive for industrial innovation.