Last year at Cortado, we wrote about Industry 4.0 and the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI). One of our major investment themes is to back companies bringing AI to necessary and recession-proof industrial sectors, including energy and logistics. The “third wave” of venture capital development is seeing more of this in the middle of the country where these sectors thrive, led by innovators who come from industry. Our recent investment in oPRO.ai is a great example.
Industry 4.0 and Artificial Intelligence
Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, is the newest revolution in manufacturing which utilizes advanced technology to make operations quicker and more efficient. AI is a crucial pillar of Industry 4.0 as it increases automation by bringing human-like levels of understanding to software. This reduces the need for human intervention in production, leading to cost reduction and productivity improvement. AI can be used in many different ways in Industry 4.0 such as in the design phase of a product, in the construction of digital twins, in utilizing industrial IoT infrastructure, and in production data analysis.
A recent McKinsey report focuses on the state of AI in 2022 and a half-decade review. It examines the performance of AI leaders, also known as AI high performers, and what sets them apart from others in the industry. The report shows that the proportion of organizations that are AI high performers, defined as those that have seen a 20% or more increase in EBIT from AI adoption, has remained steady at around 8% over the past three years. Additionally, the report suggests that high performers are expanding their competitive advantage by linking their AI strategy to business outcomes, engaging in frontier practices that enable AI development and deployment at scale, and managing potential AI-related risks.
The global refining industry is facing both opportunities and challenges in the transition to a lower carbon world. As noted in Accenture’s “Intelligent Refinery” study, the global refining industry is facing challenges from stricter emissions regulations — a move in the right direction — and new transportation fuels such as natural gas and biofuels. Refiners must invest in digital technology in order to remain competitive and capture new margins. In a 2018 survey, 67% of refiners cited lack of investment in digital as a risk to their competitiveness and 80% reported that digital has added $50 million or more in value to their business. The future of refining includes increased automation and data-driven processes to meet changing market dynamics.
oPRO.ai is a leading provider of deep learning optimization software for Process and Responsible Operations for the Oil and Gas, petrochemical, chemical, and metal industries. Their oPRO.ai Optimum product utilizes time-series prediction and optimization machine learning techniques to help complex manufacturing operations achieve higher optima such as higher yields, lower energy use, reduced emissions, safer and stabilized operations.
One of the key ways oPRO.ai sets itself apart from other companies in this space is through its deep learning AI applications that drive better outcomes. Additionally, oPRO.ai’s approach is distinguished by its ability to configure scalable solutions quickly and its open-box approach to solutions which allows customers to understand both the deep learning insights and the reasoning behind them, making it easier for end-user adoption.
This approach positions oPRO.ai to take advantage of a market that has traditionally not invested in deep learning AI solutions. The company is currently targeting Operators and Advanced Process Control (APC) Engineers as its core users. In the future, it plans to expand and offer its Constructor AI platform to data scientists to experiment and build their own Industrial AI solutions using the platform and ML templates.
The technology oPRO.ai offers is also significant in that it represents the foundation for the industry goal of fully automating industrial plant operations. Traditional plant operations can be unsafe and put humans in harm’s way. oPRO.ai’s solution is designed to address the need of industrial companies to optimize their production output while also decreasing their energy requirements and carbon footprint through innovation.
Proven Market and Solution
The company’s technology has been shown to provide 25% to 50% higher value on average when compared with traditional APCs. Furthermore, the company’s platform approach and focus on scalability and transparency sets it apart from its competitors.
The Total Addressable Market (TAM) for all Industrial AI process control is estimated at $46.6 billion. The Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM) for oPRO.ai’s technology in North America is $3 billion and $12 billion worldwide.
One of the major advantages oPRO.ai has is its ability to enable customers to implement their own AI/ML solutions with minimal support from their team. This is a major differentiator as no other Industrial AI provider gives their customers this capability. Additionally, oPRO.ai’s intellectual property includes their proprietary Industrial AI platform that has been incubated, built, configured, customer-tested, and in operations for years. Their industrial AI/ML algorithms and automation connectors that power the live closed-loop running of key oil and gas, chemical, and metal and mining operations make them a stand out player in the market.
Overall, oPRO.ai is well-positioned to take advantage of the growing market for industrial AI solutions. With its deep learning optimization technology and ability to enable customers to implement their own AI solutions, the company is poised for strong growth for many years to come. Additionally, their strong leadership, proprietary technology and large addressable market size are factors that set the company apart from its competition.
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At Cortado Ventures, we invest in pre-seed and seed stage startups with a focus on energy, logistics, life sciences, and the future of work. If you are a Midcontinent startup or looking to invest in these startups, contact us to learn more.