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DarwinAI Brings AI-Powered Visual Quality Inspection to Market

DarwinAI, an innovative Industry 4.0 company that is transforming manufacturing by instilling trust in Artificial Intelligence (AI), recently announced a $6M USD investment round led by BDC Capital’s Deep Tech Venture Fund with participation from new and existing investors.

The investment extends the capital raised through previous investment rounds. Located in Ontario, Canada, with organic connections to the University of Waterloo, the company is leveraging its foundational AI to transform the $75B global PCB industry.

DarwinAI’s initial focus is to disrupt the electronics manufacturing industry by improving the efficiency of Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) production through their ground-breaking technology. PCBs, which are ubiquitous and embedded in everything from microwaves to cameras, are notoriously difficult to visually inspect due different board sizes and complicated geometries. What’s more, qualified workers are hard to find and retain.

“DarwinAI’s ongoing mission and differentiated approach to disrupt manufacturing using AI speaks to the company’s ambition and technical prowess. We are proud that this great Canadian company, led by top tier AI technical and research team, has commercialized its technology in such a formidable manner, and are thrilled to lead this funding round” said Thomas Park, Lead Partner, Deep Tech Venture Fund at BDC Capital.

DarwinAI differentiates itself in numerous areas. First, there is the company’s foundational IP – the by-product of years of scholarship from its academic team – that enables robust, more accurate, and trustworthy performance as well as quicker time-to-market. Second, is the development of proprietary optics and custom hardware, which are key elements in bringing a full-fledged offering to the Enterprise. Third, is the company’s private and proprietary PCB dataset – one of the largest in the world – which DarwinAI has leveraged to accelerate delivery for its many clients.

As Sheldon Fernandez, DarwinAI’s CEO explains: “The global shortage of semiconductors and PCBs, exemplified by the recent CHIPS act, has given rise to circumstances that favor disruption. While we were not the first to take note of this fact, it occurred to us that no one was building a product that combined Artificial Intelligence, hardware, and software into a system that was easy to integrate into the electronics manufacturing process. This is what intrigued us: by making it straightforward to deploy inspection units and analyze data, clients can install them in novel locations and enable completely new capabilities such as returned product verification, process auditing and retrospective quality inspection.”

Visual inspection powered by Artificial Intelligence is a key driver of Industry 4.0 and the growing need for manufacturers to ‘digitize’ their production processes. By collecting and harnessing data at multiple inspection points, organizations can unearth inefficiencies, perform root cause analysis, and improve their supply chain in a holistic and systematic manner.

Digitization is a key part of DarwinAI’s roadmap and its VQI product. The new funding will enable the company to make the system more robust for mass market deployment and ramp up hardware production, as they anticipate serving more customers in 2023.

Fernandez added: “We are extremely excited by this capital injection led by BDC Capital and their commitment to deep tech in Canada. This funding enables us to continue building advanced features for our enterprise clients as they deploy our technology throughout their North American facilities. In addition to baseline quality improvements, the widespread adoption of our solution and the resulting digitization provides greater traceability and will serve as a launching point for broader Industry 4.0 efforts. The transformation is just beginning.”

DarwinAI’s IP stems from years of research (+600 research papers and awards) led by Dr. Alexander Wong, Canada’s Research Chair in the area of AI, and Professor at the University of Waterloo.

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