Alumni-led startup DarwinAI secures $8.1M in funding

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

An innovative Industry 4.0 company, founded by four Waterloo Engineering alumni, has raised $8.1 million to enhance its capabilities in printed circuit board defect detection. 

Based in Kitchener-Waterloo, DarwinAI was started in 2017 by Sheldon Fernandez (BASc ’01, computer engineering), Dr. Mohammad Shafiee (PhD ’17, systems design engineering), Arif Virani (BASc ’05, computer engineering) and Dr. Alexander Wong (BASc ’05, computer engineering, MASc ’07, electrical and computer engineering, PhD ’10, systems design engineering). Wong and Shafiee are also professors at Waterloo.

The company focuses on improving the efficiency of printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) production for the electronics manufacturing industry with its visual quality inspection platform powered by artificial intelligence.

Numerous Fortune 500 companies have adopted DarwinAI’s patented technology, with new customer demand expected to increase in 2023. The latest funding will enable the company to make its system more robust for mass market deployment and ramp up hardware production.

Sheldon Fernandez, CEO of DarwinAI. 

Sheldon Fernandez

“The global shortage of semiconductors and PCBs, exemplified by the recent CHIPS Act, has given rise to circumstances that favor disruption,” Fernandez, DarwinAI’s CEO, said in a media release

“By making it straightforward to deploy inspection units and analyze data, clients can install them in novel locations and enable completely new capabilities such as returned product verification, process auditing and retrospective quality inspection.”

This latest financing, led by BDC Capital’s Deep Tech Venture Fund, puts DarwinAI’s total funding to date at approximately $21 million.