New Orleans Startup Raises Investment Capital from Mitsubishi

NEW ORLEANS – A local startup that spun out of Tulane University has joined forces with Mitsubishi, a Fortune 200 company.

Fluence Analytics, which provides combined hardware and software analytics solutions to polymer manufacturers, recently closed a Series A-1 equity funding round. The financing includes participation from existing investor Energy Innovation Capital (EIC) and new investor Diamond Edge Ventures, Inc., the U.S. venture capital arm of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation, established in 2018.

“Venture funding in general is very difficult to raise,” explained Matt Willard, a marketing and communications manager from Fluence Analytics. “We have had several companies in the local area raise funding, and as more companies develop networks with the right sources of capital, we will see even more in the future. Unfortunately, most of this investment at later stages comes from other parts of the country because there is limited capital for these types of transactions locally.”

Formerly Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies (APMT), Fluence Analytics was founded in 2013 to commercialize technologies developed at Tulane University’s PolyRMC, an R&D (research and development) center active in fundamental and applied polymer research. (The company rebranded in 2017 to emphasize its focus on continuous process analytics and to better reflect its vision for the future of polymer and biopharmaceutical manufacturing.)

Their first major move was a joint development agreement made with Nalco, a chemicals company. Nalco wanted to utilize the technology to monitor polymer reactions in real time at one of its Louisiana manufacturing facilities. The product, called ACOMP, was first installed on the production floor in 2014, and a second system was installed in 2016. ACOMP systems have been installed at customer sites in the U.S, and around the world.

As the product gained visibility, Fluence Analytics engaged with international companies, and business units within Diamond Edge Ventures in Silicon Valley. Diamond Edge Ventures invests in, and partners with, startups that align with the work carried out by Mitsubishi’s various business units and subsidiaries. Because of a shared strategic vision and positive interactions, Diamond Edge Ventures decided to invest in Fluence Analytics.

“The funding will help us scale our operations more quickly than we could through organic growth,” said Willard. “It will allow us to continue to build out our team, expand our proof of concept program, invest more in our sales and marketing activities, and make hardware and software upgrades that are on our technical roadmap. All of our short-term technology enhancements are customer driven feature requests.”

As part of the A-1 funding round, Patrick Suel, president of Diamond Edge Ventures and a veteran corporate venture executive, has joined the Fluence Analytics’ board of directors.

“Patrick has decades worth of experience as a venture capitalist where he worked with many startups. He knows what it takes for a startup to succeed, from creating effective value propositions to structuring business models,” said Willard. “He and his team are already guiding us and ACOMP to many Mitsubishi subsidiaries and business units which will help us expand our product to new polymer applications.”

Alex Reed, the CEO of Fluence Analytics, is also optimistic about the company’s future.

“We are very excited to add a strategic investor with a shared vision for realtime analytics,” he said. “We look forward to the continued deployment of our technology for manufacturing optimization and accelerating R&D for next-generation materials.”

Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur is the associate news editor of BizNewOrleans.com
Categories: Around Town, Morning Biz, Today’s Business News

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