7 advanced manufacturing start-ups focusing on factories of the future

19 Aug 2021

Image: © Denys Rudyi/Stock.adobe.com

As technology continues to shake up industry 4.0, here are some early-stage companies innovating in the advanced manufacturing and production space.

The list of 2021 Technology Pioneers from the World Economic Forum (WEF) features 100 early to growth-stage companies breaking new ground with technologies and innovations.

This year’s list includes start-ups shaking up data and cybersecurity, blazing a trail in blockchain and digital assets, and innovating in the IoT and smart cities space.

Here, we take a look at the advanced manufacturing and production start-ups on the list, with seven companies looking to change the future of the factory floor.

Black Lake Technologies

Black Lake Technologies is a SaaS start-up that creates cloud and IoT software solutions for manufacturing companies to transform factory floor activities. Its data-driven platform integrates with production facilities and equipment, helping staff to collaborate digitally, monitor data, extract insights and make decisions.

Founded in 2016 by CEO Yuxiang Zhou, Black Lake is headquartered in Shanghai, China, and has more than 250 team members across eight offices in the country. The company counts nearly 1,000 medium and large manufacturing companies as clients.

Black Lake raised €77m in a Series C round in February, and its investors include Temasek, Lightspeed, ZhenFund, Bertelsmann Asia Investments and GGV Capital, among others.


This UK start-up uses AI technology to automate the end-to-end manufacturing process with the aim of creating parts faster, cheaper and more accurately than traditional methods. CloudNC claims that its specialised software allows users to eliminate manufacturing errors, develop on-demand and environmentally friendly production, and reduce the cost of parts by an average of 20pc.

Co-founded by CEO Theo Saville in 2015, the start-up is based in London and has a factory in Chelmsford, England. It is an alumnus of Entrepreneur First, the international talent investor the backs early-stage tech companies. Investors in the company include European VC firm Atomico.


Headquartered in Seattle, Dyndrite is a 3D printing software developer that is looking to help manufacturers produce at scale. It says that its flagship product, the Dyndrite Accelerated Computation Engine, gives companies the power, freedom and control necessary to “deliver the future of digital manufacturing”.

Founded in 2015 by Harshil Goel, the company creates GPU-accelerated software to provide customers hyper-scalability and automation, helping them solve complex geometrical and computational problems. Dyndrite’s investors include Google’s AI-focused venture fund Gradient Ventures and former Autodesk CEO Carl Bass.

Last year, Dyndrite signed a long-term licensing agreement with HP to help power the hardware company’s next-generation cloud and edge-based digital manufacturing.


EnginZyme is a Swedish tech start-up that is trying to make sustainable bioproduction economically competitive through the use of enzymes. It says it is on a mission tackle the climate crisis by accelerating the chemical industry’s transition to sustainability and minimising its environmental footprint.

The company combines enzymatic cascade reactions from nature with packed bed reactors from the chemical industry to make the “best of both worlds”, it says, and help produce plastics, nylons and rubbers in a sustainable way.

The Stockholm-based company was co-founded by Karim Engelmark Cassimjee, Samuel Härgestam and Robin Chatterjee in 2014. In 2020, it announced a €6.4m Series A investment led by European biotech VC firm Sofinnova Partners. Earlier this year, the round was extended to €11m, with fresh funding led by Industrifonden, SEB Greentech and other existing investors.


This UK-based waste analysis start-up uses the power of AI to monitor and sort recyclable waste at scale.

Through its computer vision waste recognition software deployed on conveyor belts to sort and recover facilities across the globe, Greyparrot looks to equip waste managers, producers and regulators with data to increase recycling rates and enhance product value.

Founded by CEO Mikela Druckman along with Ambarish Mitra, Nikola Sivacki and Marco Paladini in 2019, Greyparrot’s ambition is to become a world-leading waste analytics platform. Last year, the London-headquartered start-up secured £1.825m in seed funding led by tech investor Speedinvest, with participation from UK early-stage B2B investor Force Over Mass.


MakinaRocks is a South Korean industrial AI company that uses machine learning to detect anomalies in customers’ equipment, increase product quality and improve process control. This aims to help reduce human risk and machine downtime in the advanced manufacturing industry.

It was founded in 2017 by CEOs Andre Yoon and Jaehyuk Lee, along with data scientists Sangwoo Shim and Yongsub Lim. The Seoul and Silicon Valley-based start-up, which has partnerships with companies in the semiconductor, battery and energy industries, raised $10m in Series A funding last year. Investors included LG, Hyundai Motors, Applied Ventures, Korea Development Bank and more.

Earlier this year, MakinaRocks announced a partnership with Hyundai Robotics to develop AI-based anomaly detection for robotic arms. The two companies plan to develop operating environments for deep learning models and integrate them with Hyundai’s Robot Monitoring System.

Natural Fiber Welding

Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) is a tech company focused on the sustainable use of plants and natural fibres to create aesthetic and durable textile products. In an attempt to revolutionise the materials industry, the start-up uses innovative scientific methods to shape and mould natural fibres at the molecular level to match up to performance previously only seen in synthetics.

The Illinois-headquartered start-up, which was founded by CEO Luke Haverhals in 2015, aims to make all its products renewable, non-toxic and price competitive when compared to petrochemical-based products with a lower carbon footprint.

Last month, NFW raised $15m in a funding round led by the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance, with participation from BMW i Ventures and others.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic