20 Growing Manufacturing Startups (2021)

by Josh Howarth - July 7, 2021

In the United States alone, the market size of the manufacturing industry comes in at $5.6T dollars.

The rise of software and robotics has made a deep, lasting impact on the manufacturing industry as a whole.

Since manufacturing has so many different processes and complex stages of production, there is an insatiable demand for software and robotics to enhance automation and improve workflows.

Read on for our list of 20 manufacturing startups that are working on everything from cutting-edge analytics to state-of-the-art robotic assistants.

1. Senorics

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5-year search growth: 2500%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Dresden, Germany

Funding: $11.2 (Seed)

What they do: Senorics makes new industrial sensors that use spectroscopy, a light detection technique that has various use cases ranging from textile and detergent detection for laundry machines to reducing warp in cardboard manufacturing. The Senorics team is a spin-off from the University of Technology Dresden where many of the founding members were part of the Center of Applied Physics. Senorics spectroscopy products are based on 10+ years of research and today the team has grown to 35 members.

2. Cognite

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5-year search growth: 4000%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2017

Location: Lysaker, Norway

Funding: $225.2M (Series B)

What they do: Used by heavy hitters like BP and Aramco, Cognite’s bread and butter product is an industrial data operations platform called Cognite Data Fusion (CDF). CDF allows the manufacturing and industrial customers to have a single home for data visualization while providing scale for AI and ML applications that can easily integrate with CDF. For AkerBP, a major oil player from Norway, Cognite is saving the firm around $6M annually on top of reducing their environmental impact.

3. Moglix

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5-year search growth: 360%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: Singapore

Funding: $222.2M (Series E)

What they do: Moglix has managed to build a successful e-commerce marketplace focused on industrial and manufacturing equipment for the Indian market. Moglix’s website is focused on simplicity and user experience, facilitating a massive amount of transactions. Moglix’s rapid growth allowed an expansion of industrial distribution centers across 25 major manufacturing hubs across India. They recently received a $60M funding round led by notable investors Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital.

4. EquipmentShare

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5-year search growth: 1300%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Columbia, Missouri

Funding: $124.1M (Venture)

What they do: EquipmentShare noticed common problems that contractors had with the availability of flexible on-site machinery and equipment, and invented a solution. Operating over 80 full-service facilities in 29 states, contractors can simply pick what’s needed on a certain project then manage their rentals with EquipmentShare’s Track technology. Their tracking technology allows managers to monitor equipment, get real-time alerts on status and location, and check on the health of the equipment over the life of the project. EquipmentShare was recently recognized by CIO Applications as a top 2021 Construction Tech firm.

5. Tulip

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5-year search growth: 1800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Somerville, Massachusetts

Funding: $39.5M (Series B)

What they do: Tulip connects systems, devices, machines, and people involved in the manufacturing process together in one streamlined platform. Manufacturing is often complicated and involves countless steps, protocols, and software in the endless pursuit of efficiency. Teams that Tulip helps include operations, IT, engineering, and quality assurance. Tulip keeps its clients under wraps, but their platform has been deployed by “dozens of global companies” in industries ranging from Aerospace to Pharmaceuticals.

6. Soft Robotics

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5-year search growth: 71%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2013

Location: Bedford, Massachusetts

Funding: $48M (Private)

What they do: Soft Robotics was well-positioned to take advantage of labor shortages in the food industry as a result of Covid-19. Their proprietary pneumatic powered gripper was designed for the delicate task of picking food and packaging, which typically requires a human being. Soft Robotics holds over 40 patents and applications around their custom machinery. The US fresh produce packing market size is around $27B today, and Soft Robotics is aiming to become the market leader in a niche that’s ripe for disruption.

7. Fast Radius

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5-year search growth: 3400%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Funding: $67.8M (Series B)

What they do: Fast Radius is behind the trademarked Cloud Manufacturing Platform, which provides customers the capability of industrial-scale 3D printing, injection molding and other complex manufacturing tasks. Simply put, Fast Radius lets innovative companies focus on engineering and handles the entire production process from start to finish. Fast Radius’ client base is diverse, from helping electric motorcycle maker Curtiss with flexible manufacturing all the way to increasing efficiency for traditional industrial manufacturers (like Colgate-Palmolive.)

8. Ready Robotics

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5-year search growth: 400%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2016

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Funding: $41.8M (Series B)

What they do: Ready Robotics is all about ease of use through their plug n’ play hardware. Manufacturers can rapidly deploy robots to the floor through simple software they call “Forge OS”. The idea is to create the standard for operating manufacturing robotics software much like Apple’s iOS for smartphones. Over 250 robots from companies like Epson, Yamaha, and Micron are supported by Forge OS and the list continues to grow.

9. Vention

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5-year search growth: 89%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Montreal, Canada

Funding: $47M (Series B)

What they do: Vention’s core offering is their AI-enabled, cloud-based MachineBuilder3D. The MB3D platform lets enterprise customers like Google or Boeing custom design complex automated machines in easy-to-use 3D software. Not only can engineers design automated machines and have their custom parts built in days, but also code in their own automation program right on Vention’s platform. Vention’s site features a leaderboard where you can see the top users of the platform. The current leader has 24 public designs.

10. RightHand Robotics

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5-year search growth: 0%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Somerville, Massachusetts

Funding: $34.3M (Venture- Series Unknown)

What they do: The global piece-picking robotics market was valued at $148.1M in 2020 and is expected to reach $2.8B by 2026, a staggering compounded growth rate of 62.5% in the next 5 years. With the global pandemic, labor shortages, and uncontrollable amounts of online ordering, RightHand Robotics has received a boost for their robots that carefully pick pieces and automate manual tasks. RightHand’s robotics are able to fulfill tasks for e-commerce clients, pharma, groceries and more.

11. Drishti

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5-year search growth: 962%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2017

Location: Mountain View, California

Funding: $37M (Series B)

What they do: Drishti is tackling an old manufacturing problem that dates back to the time of Henry Ford with a novel solution. Manual activity in the factory is one of the most time-consuming and antiquated processes that exist today. Managers often still walk around with clipboards taking notes by hand. Drishti solves this with their video and data solution that records manual activities and analyzes them. The use cases vary from recordings used for training employees to root cause analysis and even measuring efficiency and throughput on the floor. A Kearney study shows that 72% of factory tasks are still performed by humans and 68% of defects can be traced to human causes. Drishti hopes to be the answer to reducing human error.

12. Bright Machines

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5-year search growth: 925%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $179M (Venture-Series Unknown)

What they do: Founded by former Autodesk executive Armar Hanspal in 2018, Bright Machines completely automates the electronic devices manufacturing process with a combination of cutting-edge software and robotics. Bright Machines has earned rave reviews from companies like BMW for their ability to help manufacturers scale in a flexible fashion and automate the assembly line tasks like fastening, welding, labeling, and assembling.

13. Dobot

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5-year search growth: 120%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2015

Location: Shenzhen, China

Funding: $26.2M (Series A)

What they do: Dobot is China’s version of many of the U.S. based robotics startups on our list. They offer robots covering two different verticals, educational and industrial. The educational robotics consist of sophisticated lab robotics and even robots designed to help instill a love of science for K-12 children with easy-to-use software. Industrial models cover medical, retail, chemical and more. Leading safety technology like collision detection and cutting edge software reduces the risk of error and hazards on the production floor.

14. MakinaRocks

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5-year search growth: 9700%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Funding: $11.5M (Series A)

What they do: MakinaRocks is focused on using ML and AI to continuously improve efficiency and detect anomalies in the manufacturing process. With only two core products, MakinaRocks is betting that ML will continue to rise in importance as robotics and processes go down the path of automation that improves on its own.

15. Gecko Robotics

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5-year search growth: 90%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Funding: $49M (Series B)

What they do: Infrastructure inspections for manufacturing or construction are often dangerous and fraught with risks for humans, not to mention costly scaffolding costs or special equipment needed for hard-to-reach places. Gecko Robotics’ innovative line of robots lined with sensors crawl into hard-to-reach spaces and perform inspections on boilers, piping, machinery, and more. Damage to critical machinery in hazardous industries like chemical and even pulp paper production can set teams and deadlines back for weeks at a time. Gecko safely goes where humans shouldn’t while collecting critical infrastructure data necessary for repairs.

16. Arundo Analytics

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5-year search growth: 275%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2015

Location: Palo Alto, California

Funding: $32.7M (Series A)

What they do: Arundo helps manufacturers connect complicated manufacturing data to advanced machine learning models that produce insights, which then inform strategic business decisions. In 2016, Arundo successfully graduated from Stanford’s StartX accelerator and received investment from the StartX fund.

17. Automata

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5-year search growth: 100%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: London, United Kingdom

Funding: $9.5M (Series A)

What they do: The team at Automata has come up with Eva, their proprietary industrial automation robot that completes basic repetitive tasks and frees up human labor for more productive uses. Trusted by legacy manufacturers like 3M, Samsung, and TDK, Eva was designed for small-scale production and can be set up in as little as 15 minutes. With the estimated global robotics market size around $49B, Automata is aiming to capture the affordable robotics niche that is largely being ignored by other more expensive robotics startups.

18. Tempo Automation

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5-year search growth: 29%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $74.6M (Series C)

What they do: Tempo partners with major industrial companies like Spire Health, Hitachi, and GE Healthcare to save valuable development time and cut production costs. They do this through their smart all-digital process automation platform that creates a smart, connected factory. Instead of focusing on high-volume products, Tempo has its sights set on improving the creation process for low-volume, hard to manufacture items.

19. Mecuris

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5-year search growth: 1700%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Munich, Germany

Funding: $8.1M (Series B)

What they do: Mecuris is a German startup that has developed innovative software for 3D printing or manually producing custom prostheses and orthoses. Aiming to disrupt the nearly $6.2B prosthetics market, Mecuris’s software simplifies the complexity of modeling limbs and unique body parts and then delivering measurements for an artificial limb.

20. Path Robotics

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5-year search growth: 1900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Funding: $71M (Series B)

What they do: Path Robotics has focused solely on the use of robots for welding. Welders are some of the costliest parts of manufacturing (often between $150-$200 hourly), and often require highly skilled and experienced humans the more complex the manufacturing. Their goal is simple: they develop manufacturing robots that scan, position, and weld parts without the need for human oversight. This in turn drives efficiency, safety, and speed for the manufacturer.

Conclusion

The manufacturing industry is clearly ripe for a continued tidal wave of innovation, automation, and improvement both through robotics and software. As you’ve seen in our list, the applications span across critical verticals from medicine to retail to classic heavy manufacturing.

With the goal of improving safety, efficiency, and speed, these manufacturing startups are all poised to make a large dent in the ever-increasing need for automating physical tasks.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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