TROY—The Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator has made a $110,000 investment in Detroit-based Andonix, creators of the Safely Pass app to give organizations digital tools to monitor workplace safety and health—including daily staff screenings required for manufacturing employers during the pandemic.
“Andonix is poised for growth in a variety of manufacturing environments, and this should prove to be a tremendous investment both for Michigan and for Industry 4.0 advances,” Automation Alley Executive Director and CEO Tom Kelly said. “I’m very impressed by Andonix’s tech moxie in quickly shifting gears during the pandemic to create Safely Pass based on the knowledge it garnered from its original Industry 4.0 driven-Smart Work Station platform. That ability to pivot is at the heart of an Industry 4.0 mindset.”
Andonix, led by manufacturing veterans David Yanez, CEO, and Oliver Theiss, chief revenue officer, develops software designed to elevate frontline workers into the digital era in order to increase efficiency, machine productivity, quality, and safety compliance, and to help businesses advance the elimination of paper-based processes. Before creating Safely Pass, the company developed Smart Work Station platform, which works with existing technology to rapidly onboard and train manufacturing employees. By addressing one of the most significant challenges faced by industrial companies —the frontline workforce not being connected—Smart Work Station helps address a number of continuing problems, including lengthy training periods, turnover, machine underutilization, and scrap, all of which can cost millions of dollars a year in operational inefficiencies.
The Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator is spearheaded by Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 Knowledge Center, and operated in partnership with the Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield and Jackson-based Lean Rocket Lab, both manufacturing business incubators and accelerators. The Industry 4.0 Accelerator works with startups from around the world to help them gain traction in Michigan’s manufacturing ecosystem and bring new technologies to market, offering training, education, and exposure to potential investors and corporate partners.
Andonix will receive a total investment of $110,000 in capital, programming, and contracted services from partner organizations; it is the largest investment currently available from any Industry 4.0 accelerator in the world. While accelerators tend to be tied to one large corporate funding partner, the Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator has the distinction of exposing its participating startups to more than 20 corporate partners, including OEMs, Tier One and Tier 2 suppliers. The full corporate partner list to date is: Lear Corporation; Whirlpool Corporation; DENSO; Siemens; Magna; Faurecia; Comau; Design Systems, Inc.; Mirari; Electro-Matic Ventures; TAC; Nippon Piston Ring; ITR Solutions; Kundinger; Orbitform; Maintenance Technologies Consulting; Bosch Rexroth; the Jackson Area Manufacturers Association; Stefanini Group; and AAM.
“We are eager to use these investment funds and services to increase development in Andonix products and ultimately make further improvements and efficiencies in the essential processes that lead to manufacturing success,” Yanez said. “We are grateful to the Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator for the seed money to take our solutions to new markets, for the opportunity to work directly with so many of the Accelerator’s corporate partners and industry leaders, and to empower Michigan-based SMEs to up their competitive game.”
The Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator program was established in 2020 with $1.3 million funded through the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Investments are currently available for early stage companies looking to commercialize products, services or technologies within the Industry 4.0 sector. In October 2020, the first investment was made in Autaza, a company that focuses on automating quality inspection processes for car paint, car bodies, airplanes, glass, and surfaces virtually with Industry 4.0 technologies, including artificial intelligence and computer vision. The Accelerator has received nearly 300 applications from startups in 30-plus countries and currently provides various levels of support to more than 25 startups.
A third investment announcement is expected by the end of 2021. To learn more about the Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator or to apply, visit https://www.i40accelerator.com/.