BMW is looking to improve its product development process through its deal with Alitheon.

BMW i Ventures, the German automaker’s in-house venture capital firm, has announced it is taking a stake in a Silicon Valley start-up company.

The amount of the investment was not released.

The investment is being made in Alitheon, an optical AI software creator and deep-tech startup developing generative engineering software aimed at automating the product development process.

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Alitheon will use the new funding to expand its FeaturePrint technology across the defense, aerospace, aviation services, automotive, semiconductor, luxury goods, additive manufacturing, pharmaceutical and government sectors.

The company’s technology transforms how objects, components and finished products are authenticated, tracked and traced across supply chains and distribution systems throughout the world.

Once registered by Alitheon’s optical artificial intelligence system, any individual item can be subsequently identified wherever it exists to verify authenticity, determine place and time of origin, detect signs of tampering, measure wear and identify grey market and counterfeit products including unauthorized “over runs” and previously rejected products.

“Alitheon’s ability to identify an item using only the object itself — independent of markings, tags or other modifications — is groundbreaking,” said Marcus Behrendt, Partner, BMW i Ventures.

“FeaturePrint technology has the potential to bring a new level of trust to supply chains that does not currently exist,” he added.

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Alitheon has 34 issued patents with many more pending, and its founders have three decades of experience developing expert and AI systems for identifying product tampering, counterfeiting and security threats.

Alitheon’s founders helped create the first machine vision-based explosives detection systems and have also developed fraud detection systems, satellite image analysis software and other mission-critical automated systems for governments, corporations and non-profits worldwide.

“A FeaturePrint registration or authentication can be performed in milliseconds at industrial production speeds without human involvement using off-the-shelf hardware integrated at any step throughout manufacturing and distribution,” said Scot E. Land, Alitheon’s CEO and co-founder.

“Our mission is straightforward: to create enduring trust among manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and customers.”

BMW i Ventures invests money and resources in startups in the fields of autonomous driving, digital car and automotive cloud, e-mobility, artificial intelligence and data, industry 4.0, shared and on-demand mobility, customer digital life, and energy services.

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The firm has already partnered with innovative companies such as Bright Machines, Carbon3D, Chargepoint, Claroty, DesktopMetal, fair, Graphcore, Moovit, Tekion, Trifacta, Xometry, Yellowbrick and Zum. BMW i Ventures invests in all stages from seed to growth companies.

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