TheReadingRoom

By Philip Spagnoli Stoten Founder of SCOOP

By Philip Stoten, SCOOP founder, Forbes and Entrepreneur contributor

It’s been a strange day here in Melbourne, Australia. After a small number of local transmissions of the so called “UK variant” of COVID-19 we find ourselves once more in lockdown, restricted to how often we leave our homes and how far we can go. In our case that’s just 5km. And whilst I can scarcely think of a better place to be locked down, or sheltering in place, it serves as a stark reminder that we are not past this pandemic just yet. Yes, we have seen cause for optimism as vaccinations start to roll out and case numbers in some geographies start to fall, but the overriding feeling is that we are proceeding with caution and this crisis may yet have a few surprises in store.

Those that read my columns, here and elsewhere, will know me as an optimist who believes that the innovative nature and creativity shown in our industry will see us through. I remain optimistic and the more I talk to those leading the industry, the more optimistic I become. And I am not alone, investors continue to be optimistic and excited about what’s going on in the manufacturing world, with more specialist funds focussing their attention and their cash on industrial transformation.

  • Editors Amy Feldman (manufacturing) and Alex Conrad (venture capital) share an interesting byline in Forbes entitled “Former NEA Partner Dayna Grayson And Ex-Uber Exec Rachel Holt Raise $140 Million For New VC Firm To Back Industrial Startups”. Their new firm is called Construct Capital, is for investments in manufacturing, supply chain, transportation and other foundational industries. These formerly under-the-radar areas have gained attention (and cash) lately, and Grayson and Holt expect that trend to continue. “It’s like enterprise software investing over the past two decades,” Grayson says. 
  • And here’s a nice innovation manufacturing investment story as “Mighty Buildings Raises $40 Million For Sustainable, Certified 3D Printed Housing”. Mighty Buildings, incorporated in 2017, came out of stealth last summer touting market-ready prefabricated accessory dwelling units (ADUs). “We waited so long to come out of stealth because we wanted to make sure we could really deliver on our promises. We didn’t want to create a lot of hype or expectations we couldn’t meet, and we wanted to show that we’d done the work on the regulatory side,” Co-Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer Sam Ruben explained upon public launch.
  • Whilst we’re on the topic of investment, it’s well worth watching the experts explore the world of M&A in EMS in the latest episode of The Eric Miscoll Show, with guests from both sides of the Atlantic. It was a real pleasure to listen and learn from Tom Kastner of GP Ventures Ltd and Jan Poerschmann of Proventis Partners GmbH. 
  • If it’s not VCs or M&A, there is plenty of strategic investment, such as Honeywell and Evergy Ventures making strategic investments in augmented reality firm Librestream. In a feature entitled, “Strategic AR Investments Fuel New Opportunities”, Peter Fretty elaborates. “While Industry 4.0 initiatives traditionally focused on digitizing factories and facilities, the business impact of remote workforce digitization is drawing increased attention at the executive level,” says Librestream President and CEO John Bishop, in a statement. “Honeywell and Evergy Ventures recognize both the vital importance of workforce transformation as a fundamental part of their strategy and our expertise in remote expert assistance. We will draw from their experience and leadership positions to inform and accelerate our growth strategies.”
  • Also in Forbes is an excellent article from Dave Evans, Fictiv co-founder and CEO where he suggests that, “Buy American’s Fatal Flaw Is Ignoring Digital Investment”. I agree with Dave here! Check out the article and watch Dave’s appearance on Discovery Channel’s Undercover Billionaire where he advises the owner of Lake Erie Rubber & Manufacturing.
  • Meanwhile in IndustryWeek, Harry Moser offers his Review and Critique on the Biden and Trump Reshoring Strategy. Suggesting that balancing the goods trade deficit will increase U.S. manufacturing by 40%, or five million jobs, President Joe Biden’s goal. Reaching this goal in even 20 years will require increasing the rate of annual reshoring/FDI from the Obama and Trump averages of 56,000 and 144,000, respectively, to about 450,000. 
  • We have all seen the way robotics have been used in COVID situations and apparently so many robots work at Changi General Hospital in Singapore that until recently it wasn’t uncommon to find two delivery bots sitting in a hallway or outside an elevator in a standoff. Warehouses, factories, and hospitals are deploying more robots, often made by different companies. That can lead to communication problems. WIRED writer Will Knight explains why “As Robots Fill the Workplace, They Must Learn to Get Along”.

I am off to start my five day “circuit breaker” lockdown. Let’s hope this one works and by next Friday we’re ready to get back out there. In the meantime, have a great week and thanks for reading!