“In the material sciences these are and have been, and are most surely likely to continue to be heroic days” - Robert J. Oppenheimer
More than half a century ago, the acclaimed American physicist and the Father of the Atomic Bomb, Robert J. Oppenheimer had said the above words acknowledging the important contributions of material sciences to the world of scientific discovery and development. It is 2022 and little has changed since then. If anything, the world has been asking more and more from this branch of science.
Material Science is a behind the scenes critical force which powers almost every other innovation one could think of. From the soles of your shoes to Elon Musk’s SpaceX missions, from the adhesives used in carpentry to chips required to make Quantum computing a reality - all rely on advances in material science.
As humanity continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible with its bold and innovative endeavours - such as fusion reactors, electric vehicles, space colonization etc - the timely access to right materials is more critical than ever. For instance, earlier, IC Engine cars needed materials to be flame retardant, high temperature resistant, oil resistant etc. Today, electric cars need materials to be electrically insulated, lightweight, durable and inexpensive. This presents a critical need to switch from metals to composites in order to make electric vehicles a mass reality.
Despite the widely accepted criticality and an ever increasing demand for new materials, especially for chemicals and polymers, industry has continued to rely on traditional R&D methods which are fraught with inefficiencies. Even today, scientists spend several months to years in their labs running hundreds of manual, often empirical, experiments in order to deliver a new formulation. In doing so, they are mostly unable to leverage data from previous iterations of experiments and run the risk of missing out on the formulation of materials with unique properties. This manual approach is both time and cost intensive, and quite often doesn’t necessarily lead to the most optimal outcome in terms of end material properties.
Dr. Abhijit Salvekar and Kunal Sandeep are here to disrupt the status quo with Polymerize.
Polymerize, with its unique ML powered platform, aims to markedly accelerate the time to market for new formulations. With Polymerize, customers can shorten the formulation development time significantly (by up to 50%), achieve R&D cost savings of up to 40% and generate new formulations with better outcomes. At the core is a deep-tech AI platform that’s based on a foundation of extensive domain knowledge and scientific literature. This combined with historical data points from customer feedback is then fed through the proprietary AI architecture, embedded with domain expertise and process-structure-property relationships. This then leads to tailored and high quality predictions that improve with every experiment, eventually leading to the best possible end-level output.
We first met the founders Kunal and Abhijit in 2020 a few months after they had founded the company. We could instantly connect with the problem statement and tracked them closely over the next several months. Eventually, we got the opportunity to partner in September 2021.
The founding team of Abhijit and Kunal is a perfect mix of industry expertise and business skills. Abhijit is a material scientist (PhD), who has worked as Product Researcher with the Japanese materials giant AGC Inc. (erstwhile Asahi Glass) and thus comes with deep domain expertise. Kunal, on the other hand, has been 2x founder in the past along with stints at KPMG and Subex, brings with him a strong blend of product and business skills to the team. They have also built a stellar leadership team consisting of people who have worked at exceptional companies such as Schlumberger, Whatfix etc.
Material informatics is an emerging but complex space that requires deep domain expertise to build and sell a value additive product which customers will appreciate. Despite selling to a traditional sector such as chemicals, where sales cycles could be long, the company has been able to acquire marquee customers across three markets - Japan, Singapore and India within a short span of time. This not only strongly validates the severity of the pain point across the industry but also the prowess of Polymerize's software. The company has a strong customer pipeline and will use the new funds to ramp up hiring and to expand their geographical footprint.
With Polymerize, we have a unique opportunity to be the invisible force which powers innovations in almost every industry out there. We are excited to be their early partners and look forward to crafting the future of R&D in the materials industry together.
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