Munich-based AI startup Knowron has raised €1.8 million in a seed round for an AI-based digital assistant for service technicians.
Knowron is developing a digital assistant that focuses primarily on industrial customers using natural language processing (NLP). The core feature is a simple Q&A search that supports service technicians when searching for a solution: instead of looking through hundreds of manuals, notes, or old service reports, service technicians can simply ask for the information they need, similar to Amazon’s Alexa.
The funding comes from initial customer semiconductor hardware and software supplier ASMPT, Alchemist Accelerator from Silicon Valley, renowned business angels from the industry, and the Centre for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM) in Munich where the founders met.
Knowron plans to use the investment for further product development and expand the team of 12.
Machinery and plant manufacturers in particular have been facing the challenge of a shortage of skilled workers for years. As the older generation is about to retire, problems are becoming increasingly obvious: in 2022, the shortage of skilled workers is at a record high.
On the one hand, to combat the problem, companies must intensify efforts to recruit new service technicians, but on the other hand, they must also ensure that new service technicians are trained more quickly and can perform their tasks more efficiently.
Digital tools can help to simplify time-consuming processes and contribute to an increase in productivity. Many blue-collar workers must deal with the increasing complexity of modern plants and machines. This turns their work into a “needle-in-a-haystack” problem, where finding the right information from multiple information sources in a short amount of time is often as important as executing the maintenance or repair itself.
The danger is low “first-time-fix rates” for the customer, incurring further material and human costs. This means machine failures become prohibitively expensive.
If the knowledge exists somewhere, Knowron provides immediate access to the most important documents. The feature is enabled by the use of machine learning and NLP algorithms that create a comprehensive and scalable knowledge base, which is essential for an intelligent service tool. Other functions, such as systematic troubleshooting or tutorials, help service technicians to complete daily tasks quickly and safely.
Knowron offers its digital assistant as a white-label solution, enabling its customers to be early adopters. This taps into the trend that about 70% of industrial companies intend to partner with third parties for the transition to service-based business models.
The company includes machine manufacturers such as Voith as customers with along with energy supplier and network operator EON and ASMPT, a global supplier of hardware and software solutions for semiconductor and electronics manufacturers.
CDTM is the joint research and teaching institute of the two major Munich universities, TUM and LMU. Over 240 startups have already emerged from the institute, including seven unicorns, each with a valuation over $1bn.
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