Alchemist Accelerator has raised $2 million from GE Digital to start a new program for industrial IoT startups. Stanford lecturer Timothy Chou, formerly President of Oracle On Demand, will chair Alchemist’s new IIoT accelerator along with GE Digital’s West Coast group.
In the past, enterprise hardware and software startups were seen as capital intensive, with the challenge of long sales cycles. That made them less appealing to early-stage investors. But VC’s at every stage appear more interested in enterprise tech these days as sensors, wearables, robotics and autonomous vehicles are transforming industrial sectors.
Alchemist Accelerator Managing Partner Ravi Belani said, “Industrial applications and next gen internet in industry are exciting right now. Robots and drones get a lot of attention. But AI and machine learning advances are also making forecasting and automation possible in ways we never even imagined.”
Participants in the new IIoT program at Alchemist will have access to special events, coaches focused exclusively on industrial internet businesses, help connecting with prospective customers and other resources. Most will work out of Alchemist’s office space in Xerox PARC.
GE Digital Vice President and CFO Khozema Shipchandler, who oversees the group’s merger and acquisition activity, said his firm intends to participate in follow-on investments in promising companies from the accelerator’s new track, and may possibly acquire some companies or partner with others. Last year, GE acquired Alchemist alumni Wise.io, so there’s precedent for serious deal making.
Shipchandler said,”As the industrial internet plays out it’s not 100% clear which technologies will win. We’re thinking about AI, machine learning, data integration, drone tech, inspection technologies, things of that nature. From our vantage it’s important to place a few different bets at the same time. Working with an accelerator like Alchemist can give us a learning entry-point to see what is out there.”