Phaidra Uses AI to Boost Industrial Profitability and Reduce Emissions

20 July, 2022

  • The $25M Series A will help Phaidra accelerate its mission of increasing Fortune 100 profitability while reducing emissions with artificial intelligence and deep reinforcement learning.
  • Company announced the appointment of industry veteran Robert Locke as its new president and chief strategy officer.

SEATTLE, July 15, 2022 – Phaidra, a pioneer of using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve efficiency, stability, and sustainability in the industrial sector, has closed $25M in Series A funding, the company announced today. The funding will allow Phaidra to accelerate deployment of its technology in mission-critical industries, from data centers and refineries to pharmaceutical plants and steel mills.

To head its growth and business development efforts, Phaidra also announced the addition of industry veteran Robert Locke as president and chief strategy officer. Robert previously was senior vice president of corporate development for automation giant Johnson Controls, where he worked closely with many of JCI’s largest customers, led the creation of new businesses and JCI’s corporate venture capital team, and sourced strategic acquisitions.

“At DeepMind, my co-founders and I saw first-hand how deep reinforcement learning was creating breakthroughs in multiple real-world applications. We started Phaidra to bring the benefits of this technology beyond the tech companies to the industrial sector,” said Jim Gao, CEO of Phaidra. “Robert’s company-building expertise and the Series A raise will go a long way towards achieving our mission of radical resource efficiency.”

Phaidra’s AI platform enables the industrial sector to radically improve resource efficiency via self-learning control systems. From data centers to pharmaceutical manufacturing to district cooling, Fortune 100 companies are using Phaidra to control complex industrial systems like large chiller plants to reduce their energy consumption by 15-30 percent while improving thermal stability by up to 70 percent. Despite these facilities being already highly-optimized, Phaidra’s technology has unlocked further double-digit performance improvements as its AI identifies opportunities that humans cannot see.

While traditional industrial controls systems today are static (meaning they utilize hard-coded control logic that results in repetitive behavior and break easily), Phaidra’s technology is dynamic and gets smarter over time. The AI optimizes plant performance in real-time by continuously learning and adapting to changing plant conditions. This increases profitability, efficiency, and process stability for Phaidra’s industrial customers — while reducing emissions.

Phaidra’s founders have years of experience working on transforming the industrial sector. Gao,  along with CTO Vedavyas Panneershelvam, previously led Google DeepMind’s energy and climate efforts, reducing Google’s data center cooling energy usage by 40 percent with an AI-based control system.  COO Katherine Hoffman is a veteran of the defense and controls industries, where she specialized in new technology commercialization and controls system design.

The core of Phaidra’s technology is deep reinforcement learning, a technique pioneered by DeepMind to drive several recent scientific breakthroughs, from AlphaGo (an AI-based world-class player of the game “Go”) to protein folding. Panneershelvam is a renowned expert on reinforcement learning and was a core member of the AlphaGo team. “The exceptionally talented team at Phaidra is leading the industry by using cutting-edge AI to speed up our energy transition,” said Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind.

The new funding round is led by Starshot Capital, a venture firm which supports high-impact high-growth companies, particularly those addressing climate change.

“Technologies that enable companies to be more profitable and efficient while simultaneously reducing their emissions are critical to addressing the climate crisis,” said Jeremy Brewer, managing partner of Starshot Capital.  “We are delighted to support Phaidra as they transform the industrial sector.”

Starshot is joined by problem-solving organization Helena, a new major investor. Other investors include Ahren Innovation Capital, and Mustafa Suleyman. Existing investors Flying Fish, Section 32, and Character all participated in the round.

“The industrial sector consumes the majority of the world’s finite resources. Phaidra’s technology represents an opportunity to address one of the most pressing challenges of our time,” said Sam Feinburg, Founding Partner at Helena.

About Phaidra

Phaidra’s mission is to make the industrial sector radically more resource-efficient via self-learning control systems. Every aspect of modern life depends on complex industrial processes (e.g. factories, power plants, data centers) that convert large quantities of raw materials into finished goods. Phaidra’s product is a closed-loop AI control system that automatically learns from sensor data and gets better over time at managing these complex industrial facilities. This next generation of truly intelligent control systems will enable large-scale reductions in resource intensity without sacrificing yield or product quality. Phaidra’s founding team comes from DeepMind, the Alphabet-owned AI research hub, and the defense and HVAC industry — representing a unique intersection of AI and industrials that defines the company. To find out more, visit

About Ahren
Ahren is a deep tech and deep science investment firm set up by Alice Newcombe-Ellis alongside co-founding Science Partners that have founded companies and/or technologies that are today valued in excess of $100BN combined. The firm was established from first principles with a mission to be disruptive as an investment institution, with a new model – genuine partnership between the creators of deep technology and deep science, and commercially active, long-term capital, to harness tremendous global talent and build and exponentially accelerate the next generation of great enterprises. Ahren’s Portfolio companies include AI21 Labs, Graphcore, Zapata Computing, ZOE, Phaidra, Heirloom Carbon, and Bicycle Therapeutics among others. Ahren has >$800M AUM and has team members in Cambridge (UK), London, and Boston. Learn more at

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