Industrial supply chain traceability firm Circulor raised $14 million in its Series A funding. Venture capital firm Westly Group led the investment with participation from Salesforce Ventures and four other investment firms. They will join a list of existing investors, including BHP, Boeing, Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover.
Circulor developed a platform that initially traced the supply chain of tantalum, a mineral widely used in consumer electronics. Tantalum is considered a conflict mineral because its sale contributes to the perpetuation of wars. Tracing tantalum and exposing any bad practices that occur in its extraction give companies a reason to be more accountable for the processes involved in the mineral supply chain.
Beyond tantalum, Circulor’s platform has expanded to the traceability of cobalt, mica, and lithium, as well as commodities nickel, copper, plastics, and leather. The company’s software assigns a digital identity to materials and tracks the carbon emitted at each stage of production, recycling, and disposal.
Initially, it is a hard concept to sell because by partnering with Circulor, manufacturing companies have to self-impose stricter accountability standards on ethical practices across the supply chain of the mineral and materials used in production. However, a combination of corporate ESG compliance and consumer demand for transparency is helping to drive adoption.
Circulor’s platform can help manufacturing companies adhere to tighter regulations regarding mineral extraction and CO2 emissions. One such regulation is the EU Battery Passport which will require electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturers to be more transparent about recovery and recycling efficiencies of the materials used. Lithium is an essential mineral in EV battery production.
The Series A funding will mainly go towards expanding the firm’s presence in North America and Asia. Money will also be allocated towards continuing innovation.
“We are on a mission to make the world’s most complex industrial supply chains more transparent, and help prevent the exploitation of people and our planet,” said Circulor’s CEO Douglas Johnson-Poensgen.
“Traceability-as-a-Service is fast becoming a requirement for the world’s leading brands and this funding will help us accelerate our impact and revenue growth.”
Circulor was one of the first startups to address mineral traceability and has landed partnerships with Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, but there are newer initiatives in the sector.
Glencore, the world’s largest mining firm, recently piloted cobalt traceability solution Re|Source, which it set up in conjunction with China Molybdenum Co (CMOC) and Eurasian Resources Group (ERG).
NBA hall of fame player Dikembe Mutombo’s investment firm invested $1 billion in cobalt traceability projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, which was founded by IBM and has Fiat Chrysler, and Volkswagen as members, previously completed a pilot for tracking cobalt from Apple’s supplier.