Logistics tech startup ClearMetal Inc. said today it has landed $9 million in funding to expand its platform for using artificial intelligence (AI) to generate predictive supply chain visibility for manufacturers and retailers, a sector that has drawn tens of millions of dollars in recent venture capital investment.
The investment follows a $3 million seed financing round in 2016 to support the firm's strategy of applying AI to supply chain data to improve inventory management, profitability, and customer service, San Francisco-based ClearMetal said.
The new funding is led by Prelude Ventures LLC and by Innovation Endeavors, an investment fund created by Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google Inc. parent company Alphabet Inc. Additional investment came from New Enterprise Associates Inc. (NEA), a frequent investor in logistics startups.
Additional funding came from a number of supply chain industry heavyweights drawn to ClearMetal's promise of applying predictive analytics to the movement of shipping containers and other assets, including German software giant SAP's startup investment fund (SAP.io), port operator PSA International's corporate venture capital arm (PSA unboxed), container chassis leasing firm Direct ChassisLink Inc. (DCLI), and from GT Nexus founder John Urban, who is a strategic advisor to ClearMetal.
ClearMetal's software platform allows customers such as global freight forwarder Panalpina to predict equipment, trade, vessel, and shipper needs with unprecedented accuracy, the company claims.
"The global supply chain is suffering from billions of dollars of inefficiency as a result of not having the data intelligence and predictive visibility it needs," ClearMetal CEO Adam Compain said in a statement. "Our customers are eager for predictive logistics and ClearMetal's platform solves their fundamental data challenge while delivering the digital transformation required to drive profitability in the supply chain."
Compain is not alone in seeing an opportunity for AI-powered software to help forge a more streamlined supply chain. In the past year, investors have pumped millions into the sector, including $50 million for Mountain View, Calif.-based Aera Technology's prescriptive analytics software platform and $5 million for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based LevaData's AI-based supply chain procurement tool. Also in 2017, Kennesaw, Ga.-based logistics technology provider Teknowlogi and cloud-computing business software giant Infor have rolled out AI platforms.