AMS Spring 2023

Parkway VC Launches $60M Fund Targeting Simulation and AI Startups


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Emerging New York investment firm Parkway Venture Capital is raising up to $60 million for its second fund aimed at startups pioneering artificial intelligence (AI) and simulation developments to drive digital transformation in all sectors. Co-founders and managing partners Gregg Hill and Jesse Coors-Blankenship say they are on pace to close their new fund after raising $50 million, also expecting to provide new opportunities for investors and attract new advisory board members.

Since its creation in 2019, Parkway has steered towards disruptive technologies across a wide range of industries, emphasizing early-stage ventures and startups using AI, complex engineering, and data science at the heart of their development process, enabling advanced simulations that can power future systems and applications. In addition, Parkway is targeting investments in future-forward companies that have the vision to drive change through advanced technology.

Parkway Venture Capital co-founders Jesse Coors-Blankenship (left) and Gregg Hill (right). Image courtesy of Parkway Venture Capital.

The company is spearheaded by patent-holding AI evangelist Coors-Blankenship, who began his career working for Autodesk and later at his own generative design startup Frustum. This latter company is, of course, well known for its cloud-based software for creating topology-optimized components for additive manufacturing. This unique player’s 3D CAD innovation enables extraordinary and extremely complicated 3D printing designs rapidly and efficiently thanks to AI, potentially saving companies a good deal of money. In 2018, it was acquired by CAD leader PTC for $70 million. Around that time, Coors-Blankenship and Hill went on to create Parkway, concentrating on supporting industry disruptors.

Frustum showcasing at RAPID 2018: the TrueSOLID platform is at the heart of Frustum’s unique technology. Image courtesy of Frustum.

Building on the success of its first fund, Parkway recently invested in the California-based clean fusion energy technology company TAE Technologies, alongside Google, Goldman Sachs, the Rockefeller family-founded venture capital firm Venrock, and Kuwait Investment Authority, the oldest sovereign wealth fund in the world. TAE aims to use AI and complex engineering to manufacture a prototype commercial fusion reactor by 2030. As part of its mission to expand, Parkway has also attracted global energy leader and clean technology pioneer Omran Al-Kuwari to its Advisory Board; he will play an integral role in shaping and growing Parkway’s investments in the energy sector.

Al-Kuwari said he is joining Parkway at a time when it has already zeroed in on transformational new opportunities in simulation across various sectors, including clean energy.

“I am particularly excited to support the growth of some of our portfolio game-changers, such as TAE Technologies, who are redefining energy to the grid and power management while expanding the frontiers of fusion technology,” he remarked.

Al-Kuwari joins fellow board members and renowned professional tennis players Tommy Haas and Vasek Pospisil, as well as innovator and entrepreneur Kirk Spahn. The tennis connection stems from Hill’s origins playing the sport, even participating in Wimbledon with former doubles partner Haas, as well as other major global tennis tournaments in the 2000s.

Omran Al-Kuwari, CEO of Qatar Foundation International, speaks about how the MENA region needs to position itself in the decarbonized world of the future. Image courtesy of Qatar Foundation.

Parkway’s co-founders believe that almost every part of technology advancement requires simulation and AI to best manage the extreme complexity required.

“Parkway operates at the convergence of technology, simulation, and production. This is based on our insight that everything will be simulated as our world embraces a higher complexity future. For Gregg and me, our ability to accurately predict future outcomes to achieve success has been essential to our winning record in venture capital. Collectively our portfolio companies harness simulation and AI to bring value and competitive advantage to any sector,” said Coors-Blankenship.

Parkway’s portfolio companies represent advanced technologies that can be transferable across multiple sectors. Lately, the firm has backed AI-driven furniture startup Burrow, transforming the highly fragmented furniture space with its innovative, modular sofa design. Another example is TestFit, a Dallas-based software developer of algorithms for designing building diagrams in milliseconds. There’s also Siera.AI, a leading industrial AI vision solutions provider that can prevent forklift accidents in the workplace thanks to its advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), which builds on AI dashcams.

By remaining focused on supporting future-forward companies that are building their businesses around simulation and AI disruptive technology innovations, Parkway claims to offer a diversified, institutional-quality portfolio of venture capital investments at every stage. Rooted in digital transformation technologies, with a strong potential to disrupt and redefine the status quo, the companies back by the investment firm have developed some unique applications and show great potential to become successful businesses. It will be intriguing to learn which new companies will join Parkway’s growing portfolio once the new fund closes.

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