- Technology startup Uptake, based in Chicago, has reached a $1.1 billion valuation after raising $45 million from investors, including heavy equipment giant Caterpillar, The New York Times reported.
- Uptake partners with companies in a variety of industries, including construction, mining and aviation, and develops software and algorithms to better collect and utilize massive amounts of data.
- In March, Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman announced the company was investing in the startup as a way to offer better data analytics technology for customers using Caterpillar equipment.
Caterpillar and Uptake are first working to put sensors in locomotives that would let operators know when repairs are necessary before an accident or shutdown. The rollout of the technology in locomotives is expected in early 2016, and then construction equipment will be next in line, according to Oberhelman.
While most heavy equipment users already have the ability to collect data from their equipment fleets, most of that information is "based on history," the Engineering News-Record noted. Caterpillar's investment in Uptake demonstrates heightened demand for technology to offer more accurate forecasting for future performance and failures before major incidents or malfunctions happen.
"We want to empower our customers with the insight necessary to shift from a reactive 'repair after failure' mode to a proactive 'repair before failure' stance," Oberhelman said.
Uptake isn't the first startup seeing attention from Caterpillar. In May, the company announced it had invested in Yard Club Inc., a San Francisco-based startup connecting renters and owners of heavy machinery.
The success of Uptake comes less than a week after Caterpillar, Inc., grappling with decreased demand in its construction and other businesses, announced a $2.5 billion decrease in third-quarter sales from the same quarter 2014, lowered its 2015 earnings forecast, and predicted sales would fall in 2016. However, Oberhelman told analysts he was optimistic Congress would soon pass a multiyear highway-funding bill, which would increase demand for construction equipment.
On the same day as Uptake's funding announcement, Fieldwire, a San Francisco-based startup offering mobile and web platform services for construction projects, announced it had secured $6.6 million in series A financing.
The major investor interest in Uptake and Fieldwire reflects the construction industry's current move toward incorporating more technology on the job site to streamline projects and avoid overruns and delays.