Q&A with Tim Chiang, Investment Director at Xerox Ventures
Xerox Ventures recently invested in Seurat to help us achieve our mission of making manufacturing better for our people and planet. We sat down with Tim Chiang, Investment Director at Xerox Ventures to discuss their investment thesis and perspective on the convergence of sustainability and advanced manufacturing.
Welcome to Seurat, Tim! We saved you a front row seat to the manufacturing revolution.
1. Talk to us about your role at Xerox Ventures and your investment thesis.
I am an Investment Director at Xerox Ventures where I lead investments in the fund’s Deeptech and Cleantech concentrations, partnering with founders pioneering the future of Connectivity, Energy, Manufacturing and Sustainability.
Xerox Ventures was established last year as the corporate venture capital fund for Xerox Corporation. We invest in early and growth-stage startups that emphasize Connected Work, Empowered Businesses and Green Enterprise.
Our mission is to accelerate disruptive change – whether that be through cleantech, the internet of things (IoT/IIoT), advanced manufacturing, fintech, cybersecurity, or other deep tech avenues (software or hardware).
We are an investor, but more than that we want to be a true value-adding partner - supporting our companies along their journey. We bring to bear Xerox’s strengths to the benefit of our startups by offering our portfolio companies access to customers, tech partnerships, R&D support, and Xerox’s own wealth of expertise at the interface of digital and physical.
2. What critical business issues do you think manufacturers are facing today?
There are many issues facing manufacturers today including a growing skills gap in the United States, inventory and supply management, archaic work flows, as well as ensuring it is done in a sustainable and planet-friendly way. Automation, IoT, and digital solutions can do much to solve for the endogenous factors challenging manufacturers, but exogenous forces unsettling supply chains and the global need for significant reductions in GHG emissions will require fundamentally new approaches to how we make things. These are issues that have always existed but have become especially apparent over the past year. On top of profitability, manufacturers need to solve for sustainability, flexibility, reliability, and accessibility.
3. What kind of new and exciting innovations are you observing in the areas of clean-tech and decarbonization?
While Seurat’s approach towards scalable metal AM with their Area Printing technology was what initially caught my attention as being a uniquely scalable technology, there is no denying that the decarbonizing mission of the company and Area Printing's ability to realize that mission was a very compelling aspect of what Seurat represents in its overall impact potential to the industry. I lead both the deep tech and clean tech investment focus for Xerox Ventures and Seurat is both an advanced manufacturing investment as well as a cleantech investment for us. Xerox has always been in the business of enabling industries to do their work more effectively and efficiently. And I believe we’re moving towards an era where good business is also clean and sustainable business. What I love is that Seurat’s cleantech impact is an emergent property of Seurat’s groundbreaking approach towards truly distributed manufacturing.
4. You have led investments for other types of advanced manufacturing, and even specifically, AM. What are your observations in terms of how the AM industry has grown and matured?
It is no secret that the AM industry has shifted it’s focus beyond low-volume prototype prints towards higher performance production parts manufacturing. The opportunity set has been informed by the challenges that many of the traditional AM approaches have encountered on the path towards production manufacturing, including material selection, print throughput, post processing, and time to part. And the industry is understanding that shortcuts to scaled production at the expense of part performance doesn't cut it – especially when safety/mission-critical parts are at hand.
5. In your role, you get to observe the growth potential of many emerging technologies. What area are you personally excited about the most?
I’ll speak from the perspective of a deep tech and cleantech venture investor, which affords me a view of what I think is a fascinating and positive development across nearly all verticals. In a real sense, technologies don’t emerge from a vacuum, which is something the startup community understands deeply. It takes a high performing team and strong partners to realize technology emergence – it is a sociotechnical system. And as we better understand both the positive and negative impacts of the way we yield emerging technologies, we’re also seeing the convergence of value and values. People want the products they buy, the businesses they support, and the companies they work at to also hold true to what they believe to be important.
This is something we believe at Xerox Ventures and why we’re so excited for Seurat. Seurat is a company that is doing good work while transforming the manufacturing industry for the benefit of all.
6. What interests you the most about advanced manufacturing technologies?
The additive manufacturing market is exciting because there is so much room for growth over the next several years. We are really at the tipping point for the future of connected work in the industry and I think we can really realize scale and mass production which will revolutionize manufacturing across industries.