Investment is the third from the Accelerator partnership between Automation Alley, Lean Rocket Lab and The Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University
Troy, Mich. – November 30, 2021— The Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator, the nation’s first Industry 4.0 specific accelerator, along with its partners Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University and Jackson-based Lean Rocket Lab, are pleased to announce Manu-Tech Pitch Day on Wednesday, Dec. 8. The theme of this year’s Manu-Tech Pitch Day is Enabling Operational Resiliency in Manufacturing and will include an award presentation to the Accelerator’s newest direct investment, UnitX. Additionally, Automation Alley CEO Tom Kelly and MEDC CEO Quentin L. Messer Jr. will participate in a Q-and-A session about Michigan’s ongoing Industry 4.0 efforts.
UnitX is a Santa Clara, California-based startup focused on automating defect inspections at high throughput and high repeatability using deep learning and robotics. The company recently closed an $12 million Series A Round and will receive a total investment of $110,000 in capital programming and contracted services from the Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator. The company, whose founding team includes several University of Michigan alumni, will work with the Accelerator to expand its Michigan presence.
In its current work with Melling, an automotive component company in Jackson, Michigan, UnitX deployed its technology into production and minimized the false acceptance of defective parts by 10-times and increased cycle time by 40% in comparison to human visual inspection.
UnitX’s hardware lead, Dr. Boyun Wang, who oversaw UnitX’s successful deployment at Melling, highlighted the impact of automation.
“Quality inspection, such as surface defect detection, is a pain point for manufacturers. When we rely on human inspection, it is hard to achieve consistent and accurate results due to human subjectivity,” Wang said. “We believe technologies like deep learning are a real game changer to help companies increase productivity beyond what they could ever imagine.”
Kelly said the Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator is a vital complement to the ongoing efforts Michigan is making to increase adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies in Michigan.
“UnitX is a perfect example of the type of young tech companies we need to escalate our advanced manufacturing goals. I look forward to seeing them grow with the continuing support of the Accelerator investment,” Kelly said.
Manu-Tech Pitch Day will be open to the public virtually. The day will also include an update on participants from Pitch Day 2020, a panel of Michigan manufacturing companies utilizing Industry 4.0 technologies, company pitches for the Accelerator, and other targeted Industry 4.0 sessions. Registration and additional information are available here.
The Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator program was established in 2020 with $1.3 million originally funded through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Investments are currently available for early-stage companies looking to commercialize products, services or technologies within the Industry 4.0 sector. Through its distinct structure, the Accelerator services expose participating startups to more than thirty corporate partners, including OEMs, Tier One and Tier Two suppliers. Previous investments from the Accelerator include Andonix, which develops worker safety systems that provide operation intelligence directly from the shopfloor, and Autaza, a developer of AI-enabled computer vison systems.
The Accelerator has received more than 300 applications from startups in 30-plus countries and currently provides various levels of support to more than 25 startups. Startups vie to become part of the Accelerator because of the multi-pronged training, education, and exposure it offers both internally and from corporate partners. The Accelerator also helps startups gain traction in Michigan’s manufacturing ecosystem and bring innovative technologies to market. To learn more about the Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator or to apply, visit https://www.i40accelerator.com/.
About Automation Alley
Automation Alley is a World Economic Forum Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for North America and a nonprofit Industry 4.0 knowledge center with a global outlook and a regional focus. We facilitate public-private partnerships by connecting industry, education and government to fuel Michigan’s economy. We give businesses a competitive advantage by equipping them with the knowledge and tools to develop a software-first mindset that leverages the intersections of advanced technologies, systems and people to jumpstart or accelerate a digital path to strategic success.
About Lawrence Technological University’s Centrepolis Accelerator
The Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University is accelerating the growth of Southeast Michigan’s advanced manufacturing, innovative hardware entrepreneurs and small manufacturers by providing access to funding, experts and key business and product development resources. Visit centrepolisaccelerator.com.
About Lean Rocket Lab
The Lean Rocket Lab is a Jackson, Michigan based business incubator and member of the state-wide MEDC SmartZone Business Incubator Ecosystem through an agreement with the Enterprise Group of Jackson County and the Blackman Township SmartZone. The Lab exists to offer entrepreneurial services and provides business validation, incubation and accelerator programming to manufacturing/technology focused startups and support high tech innovation in the State. Visit leanrocketlab.org.