Alitheon raises $10m in another BMW-backed round

BMW's venture arm has led a first-round financing for US machine vision startup Alitheon that will be used to help advance its artificial-intelligence based authentication technology.

Called FeaturePrint, the technology digitises physical objects for "irrefutable identification, authentication, and tracing, and eliminates misidentification and misuse of items," said BMW I Ventures in a statement.

It can be used to create a one of a kind, unique identifier – that does not require any changes to the item – using an image captured via an off-the-shelf camera that records surface detail from a product that can distinguish it even from an identical item made by the same manufacturer.

The aim is to replace additive features like barcodes and holograms that are vulnerable to copying and fraud, according to Alitheon, and protect against counterfeiting or part misidentification. The company is directing its technology at customers in the automotive, aerospace, pharma, collectibles, luxury goods and precious metals categories.

In a study by Frontier Economics, commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce's Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) and INTA, it is estimated that the total global economic value of counterfeiting and piracy will reach $2.3 trillion this year.

The latest cash injection round for the six-year-old Seattle company comes on top of $15m in venture capital raised in 2020, which was also backed by BMW, as well as an earlier $12m round in 2019, and will be used to expand the company's headcount and step up sales and marketing efforts.

It will be deployed under the oversight of new chief executive Roei Ganzarski, an electric aviation pioneer who took the helm of Alitheon earlier this year, replacing Brian Crowley, who moved to the chief operating officer role.

"BMW i Ventures' confidence and continued growing investment in Alitheon highlights the need across industries for a solution that reduces both bodily harm and financial risk, by reducing the use of counterfeits, and stopping the misuse of critical parts due to human error," said Ganzarski.

"This investment round supports our ability to scale and meet significant demand, and having BMW i Ventures in our corner makes this evermore significant."

Last month, Alitheon was awarded a US patent (No. 11,423,641) covering the use of a database for detecting counterfeit items using digital fingerprint records.

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