Enhancing Efficiency and Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Intellegens' ML-driven Solution

Laura Diez

Startup Stories

In this exclusive interview, we sit down with Ben Pellegrini, the CEO of Intellegens, to explore how their advanced machine learning solutions are revolutionizing the field of chemical innovation. Intellegens' Alchemite™ software tackles the challenges of sparse and noisy data, offering insights and optimization in multi-target problems. With notable case studies featuring industry giants like Johnson Matthey, NASA, and AstraZeneca, Intellegens is pushing the boundaries of accelerated product development while reducing costs and time-to-market. Discover the driving force behind Intellegens' founding, their approach to securing pilot projects with chemical corporations, their current and potential customer base, and their vision for the future. Additionally, learn how the 5-HT platform can support Intellegens in increasing their visibility, fostering industry connections, and providing additional support in Germany.

How would you explain your solution in three sentences to a professional colleague in a chemical company?

Intellegens applies advanced machine learning to accelerate chemicals innovation, designing better products and processes while reducing time-to-market and experimental cost. Our Alchemite™ software has a unique ability to handle the sparse, noisy data generated by experiments and processes. R&D teams gain insight into multi-target problems - benefits include optimised formulations, increased yields, and up to 90% less experimentation. Case studies include Johnson Matthey, NASA, AstraZeneca.

What problem motivated you to start the company?

We began via a research project with Rolls-Royce. The aim was design of a new superalloy, which typically takes 10+ years. Could this be accelerated using machine learning (ML) to gain insights from existing data? The available data had been measured in many different projects, targeted at different attributes and collected under different conditions. This made the data sparse (it had lots of gaps) and noisy. Most ML methods cannot train models using such data. Our Alchemite method was developed to overcome this limitation, enabling design and experimental validation of an alloy in record time. We realised that the method could have many more applications in materials and chemicals.

How do you convince a chemical company to set up a pilot project with you?

We directly address key strategic objectives for chemical companies: speeding up the innovation process, increasing sustainability, and managing volatility in energy costs and the supply chain. We do this with a focus on real, practical development problems that impact these objectives: reaching R&D objectives with fewer experiments, finding solutions that lower resource and energy consumption, and identifying formulation and process changes to respond to changing circumstances. 

Customers typically begin with a pilot project focused on a specific challenge with a measurable outcome. They have confidence to do this because:

  1. Intellegens has a strong library of public case studies showing previous success.

  2. We focus on supporting adoption and demonstrating ROI through pilot projects, supported by our  Science Team and its extensive experience in such projects.

  3. Customers recognise the strategic importance of digitalisation and realise that a critical first step is understanding their existing data.

  4. We can demonstrate ease-of-use and a clear implementation process for the software, supported by features such as a web user interface designed for scientists and engineers.

Who are your current customer (groups) and who do you want your potential customers to be?

Intellegens is based in Cambridge, UK but has a global customer base. We are working across the materials, chemicals, and life sciences sectors with a focus on formulation design, design of experiments, and process optimisation. Visit our website for case studies on chemicals (Johnson Matthey), inks (Domino Printing), food formulations (Yili), drugs (AstraZeneca), metals (OCAS), manufacturing processes (AMRC with Boeing), and more. 

Where do you see yourself in 3 years and how can 5-HT support you?

Intellegens has grown organically by delivering value to our customers. The team has now grown to 30, with first feet on the ground in the USA, the product is mature and being rolled out across multiple customer sites. We are now scaling the team, particularly on the customer support and commercial side, to accelerate growth, adoption, and customer acquisition. We hope 5-HT can help raise awareness of Intellegens, facilitate industry connections, and provide additional support in Germany. 

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