Industrial automation has become so hot in the past few years that funding of new companies in this space is attracting significant attention. This is especially true in technology fields associated wiith the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), such as connectivity, sensors, visualization, cybersecurity and analytics. Not long ago, I highlighted the venture funding of industrial cybersecurity firm Claroty by Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric, which has since grown to also include funding from Siemens among others.
Analytics technologies are also seeing similarly heightened investment interested. The most recent case in point is Seeq’s Series B funding led by Altira Group (a predominantly oil & gas-related venture group), next47 (a Siemens-backed global venture firm), Chevron Technology Partners, and Second Avenue Partners.
Seeq’s software applications, which include Seeq Workbench and Seeq Organizer, enable manufacturing organizations to analyze, predict, collaborate and distribute time-series-derived production data insights to improve production outcomes. The software is designed to run on premise, on Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services cloud platforms, or in hybrid on-premise/cloud deployments.
According to Seeq, this new round of investment will be used to significantly expand its development, sales and marketing resources, and also increase its presence in international markets.
Michael Risse, chief marketing officer at Seeq, explained that in addition to growing its international presence through partnerships, the company aims to focus this investment on “getting more new customers and expanding installations in companies where we are already being used.”
When asked if the heavy investments in Seeq from Altira and Chevron indicated a particular interest from the oil & gas industries, Risse acknowledged that oil and gas funds are a major portion of this investment. But he added the oil and gas industry "represents just 20 percent of Seeq's customer base; the remaining 80 percent are in the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage and water industries.” He also said that, Altira expressed interest in continued investment in Seeq because they “liked that we’re not just oil and gas focused. They like our diversification” across the process industries.
Risse also noted that Chevron Technology Partners often invests in technologies used by the company. “So, it's safe to say Chevron is a Seeq user,” he said.
Addressing Seeq’s diversified growth over the past year, which saw the company nearly double its number of customers and licensed users, Risse said the company also saw some “surprise installations in discrete manufacturing” for use in areas of operation that are more process-oriented in nature. Examples of these processes include use of dip tanks (where parts are dipped in coatings) and compressions (high pressure blending of parts/ingredients into a composite piece). These processing-oriented operations provide time-series data in a discrete manufacturing process for which Seeq’s analytics can provide useful insights.
The investment firms involved in this series of funding will get a board position with Seeq through which they can “bring their expertise to us, as well as be an active participant in our development efforts,” said Risse. As an example of this, Risse pointed out that Siemens invited Seeq to be a part of this year’s Automation Summit. Seeq is also working with Siemens XHQ operations intelligence team, which develops visualization technologies for the oil and gas industries.