Limerick-founded Protex AI will use the fresh investment to grow its commercial and engineering teams and expand on both sides of the Atlantic.
Industrial workplace safety start-up Protex AI has raised $18m in funding to expand its technology across Europe and North America.
Founded last year in Limerick by CEO Dan Hobbs and CTO Ciarán O’Mara, the start-up uses computer vision technology to identify health and safety issues, minimise injuries and make industrial workplaces safer.
By plugging into existing CCTV infrastructure, Protex AI can leverage artificial intelligence to audit customers’ workplaces across the port, logistics and manufacturing industries.
The company was one of five start-ups with Irish roots that bagged a spot in the prestigious Y Combinator programme last year.
The Series A funding round was led by British private equity firm Notion Capital. Other backers included new and existing investors such as Firstminute Capital, SCOR Ventures, Dublin-based Elkstone, and supply chain and logistics company Flexport.
“The strategic investment from both Flexport and SCOR Ventures is a clear indicator that there’s a need for technology-based solutions to radically improve safety standards in industry,” said Hobbs. “Protex AI has a compelling proposition to address this need.”
The cost of workplace accidents in the US alone is estimated to be $171bn due to losses in productivity, insurance and medical expenses. “Safety technology is a growing space as companies look to prevent huge losses in costs and time,” Hobbs added.
“The investment is also a strong endorsement that the technology we’re building at Protex AI is the right solution to revolutionise the way modern safety is practised,” he added.
Prior to Protex AI, Hobbs also co-founded a cloud-based management platform BetterExaminations, which was acquired by Irish-founded edtech company Terminalfour.
The fresh funding will be used to expand Protex AI’s commercial and engineering teams to meet global demand for its technology and continue to innovate in the space.
With around 20 people currently employed at the start-up, it hopes to hire an additional 30 next year while growing its commercial and tech teams. It also plans to open a US office next year to service the North American market.
“One of the silver linings of the Covid pandemic has been the increased appreciation for the blue collar workers whose health and safety is now one of the key discussion topics inside the corporate board rooms,” said Kamil Mieczakowski, principal of Notion Capital.
“Protex are a leader in the proactive safety technology market and have quickly become the go-to platform for the leading enterprises globally wanting to achieve health and safety excellence.”
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