VALIS raises oversubscribed seed round to deliver AI-powered software tools for metal recycling
Massachusetts-based startup is creating a circular economy for metals powered by data
Earlier in September of this year, VALIS Insights oversubscribed its seed round investment led by Closed Loop Partners' Ventures Group, with participation from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), GS Futures, REFASHIOND Ventures, the WPI Commercialization Fund, and Angels from Launchpad Venture Group and Wire Group. This funding follows the pilot-scale launch of VALIS' VALI-Sort, with Radius Recycling (formerly Schnitzer Steel Industries), from earlier in 2023 and will accelerate team and technology growth.
Today, metal production accounts for 10 percent of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions will continue to grow as demand for major metals is expected to nearly double by 2050. Maximized recycling of post-consumer metals - material recovered from used consumer goods - is critical to sustainable material consumption.
Recycled metal generates approximately 80 percent fewer emissions compared to primary metal, extracted from mined ore. However, the recycling industry is currently limited by inefficiencies along the value chain, leading to the significant loss of valuable metals worth over $50 billion each year. New technology is needed to work alongside human decision-making to keep up with market volatility and uncertainty.
VALIS's technology is advancing metal recycling by working to make existing infrastructure more efficient, a key solution to a healthy supply chain and a drastic reduction in emissions associated with metal production. VALI-Sort increases transparency around material separation at recycling facilities by integrating directly with sensor-based sorting equipment to provide plant and sales managers with high-value insights into the quality and value of material flowing through the system.
VALI-Sort is the first step in VALIS's long-term vision to create an integrated platform that bridges gaps along the entire recycling value chain. This technology aims to enable data sharing between facilities, offer visibility for manufacturers on their products at end-of-life, and incorporate optimization along every point of the recycling process to ensure the materials of yesterday are effectively recovered to meet the demand of tomorrow.
"Recycling facilities are generating a wealth of data that is currently going to waste. This data has the power to transform how process decisions are made, material quality is assessed, and recyclable metals are sold. At VALIS, we're putting AI-powered tools in the hands of recyclers by integrating directly with their equipment and current operations. We're enabling data driven decision-making so they can be confident their processes are optimized even as material and market trends shift," says CEO Emily Molstad.
The VALIS team has been researching and developing AI capabilities for the recycling space since 2019, with support through Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and officially incorporated in July of 2022. Efforts are led by co-founders, Emily Molstad (CEO) and Caleb Ralphs (CTO), who bring a blend of expertise in metals processing, recycling, data science and machine learning. Product director Ben Longo brings an extensive skillset in SaaS product development and system integration. The team plans to continue its growth and advance the circularity of metal processing.
"Existing metal processing is opaque to most of us. When a car or an appliance reaches the end of its useful life, we trust that the valuable metals make their way back into new products. That is often not the case - nor do we have the tools today to know exactly where and why materials are falling out of the system," says Aly Bryan, investor with Closed Loop Partners' Ventures Group. "The team at VALIS is committed to building out that transparency, and with it, greater economic value for metal processors and everyone within the metals recycling value chain. We are excited to support them on that journey."
Investment funds will be targeted toward the expansion of the VALIS team including software development, sales, and operations to support the at-scale rollout of the technology across the metals recycling ecosystem.