CM Venture's investment in InnoAero: a leap into AI-driven, space-age material discovery

July 1, 2024

After a year-long study of AI+Materials, CM Venture is leading a multimillion dollar A round for Innoaero, an AI material discovery specialist in the field of metal alloys. Known for its rapid iteration and shortened development cycles, InnoAero's technology has been validated by customers in the satellite field, marking a significant milestone for the company.

Advanced technology platform for alloys
InnoAero has effectively tapped into the high-growth satellite cables market, leveraging its AI-driven platform to innovate and develop new metal alloys. Built on the “Fourth Paradigm” concept of materials discovery, the startup is able to operate at ten times the efficiency of traditional workflows. Their comprehensive database includes over 100 proven alloy formulations, enabling rapid development of new products. The core strength of InnoAero lies in its AI-enabled material discovery platform and its extensive copper alloy database, which significantly accelerates the product development process.

Space-age quality: first mover in an attractive market
The company has demonstrated the effectiveness of its technology through the successful validation of thin copper wires used in satellites, that are thinner and lighter than current wires. Weight is critical to satellites, and copper wires can take up nearly 1/3 of the weight of each satellite (~33kg-400kg in small satellites below 1,200kg), so any weight saving is highly desirable. InnoAero is currently the only Chinese company that has qualified gauge 28 copper alloy wire for satellite use. Each small satellite needs about 300K RMB of copper wires, while larger satellites require around 1 million RMB worth. We expect the space satellite cables and assemblies market to grow exponentially as the microsatellites industry takes off.

Balanced commercial and technical team
InnoAero boasts a well-rounded team with both commercial and technical expertise. CEO Mr Fu Yun, an engineering graduate from Hefei University of Technology, previously served as the general manager of the cutting tool division of a publicly-listed company, where he grew the division’s revenue four-fold. Its CTO holds a PhD from the University of Tennessee, and worked at blue-chip companies such as Corning and Goodyear, before co-founding InnoAero.

Wide range of applications, from EVs to electronics
The potential markets for InnoAero’s copper alloys include the electronics industry and electric vehicles (EVs). By 2025, the market size for copper used in EV wiring harnesses in China is expected to reach 18.8 billion RMB. Similarly, the market for copper used in EV charging piles is projected to reach 3.1 billion RMB. InnoAero’s proprietary copper alloy formulation, developed through computational materials science and AI, positions it uniquely for this burgeoning market.

CM Venture’s A round investment in InnoAero will enable the company to build up its manufacturing base to supply the satellite industry and further develop its technology platform. CM Venture Partner Michelle Hua has joined the company’s board of directors.