By Chris O’Brien
Citrine Informatics, a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, is using big data and AI to make creating new materials more efficient. The Silicon Valley company believes such an approach can bridge a gap between traditional, but slow, approaches to material science and the hunger of consumer electronics companies to deliver breakthrough products every couple of years.
“These product companies were starting to push the limits in terms of what they were making their products out of,” says Citrine co-founder and CEO Greg Mulholland. “And that led to a crunch in materials industry. It used to take ten to twenty years for new materials to be developed and these product companies wanted it in 36 months.”
This push to inject the power of software and silicon into the traditional manufacturing industry is variously known as the “4th Industrial Revolution” or “Manufacturing 4.0.” The trend includes technologies such as 3D printing for industry, the Internet of Things, robotics, material science, and AI. The Future of Production was a major theme at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Last June, Citrine raised $7.6 million in venture capital, its first round, from a series of high-profile investors, including Data Collective, Innovation Endeavors, and Prelude Ventures, LLC. It now counts among its partners and clients 3M, Panasonic, and AutoDesk.
Founded in 2013, Citrine was the result of a collaboration between founders with backgrounds in material sciences and others who came from the AI world.
“We realized that there there is a big change that’s coming in the material science industry,” Mulholland said. “One that’s pretty fundamental.”