39. Uptake

Big machines break, but maybe they don't have to.

Founders: Brad Keywell (CEO), Eric Lefkofsky
Launched: 2014
Headquarters: Chicago
$264 million
Valuation: $2.3 billion (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
Machine learning, Internet of Things
SaaS, Software, IoT

George Kavallines | CNBC

Machine learning is enabling all kinds of advances across a number of industries, including helping industrial equipment diagnose itself. In fact, that's the main business of Uptake. This SaaS start-up works with dozens of industrial businesses — including Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Caterpillar — to help them determine when a piece of equipment is not performing up to speed or is about to break down. It does this by analyzing the data coming off the sensors on industrial machinery and equipment. It then uses data-science models to predict problems before they occur. Company co-founder and CEO Brad Keywell — one of the people who started Groupon — says this helps companies reach new levels of productivity, reliability and safety.

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Chicago-based Uptake understands the potential of capturing all this data and is betting big that the market will continue to grow. It's already working on six continents and is looking to expand its reach into the railroad, oil and gas, and wind-power markets. Its funding efforts in 2017 will no doubt help in that mission. Uptake closed three rounds of funding last year, taking in a total of $257 million from investors, including Baillie Gifford, Revolution Growth and GreatPoint Partners. The company is now valued at $2.3 billion. It's also giving back. In August it donated $1 million to Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science to establish a new fund for faculty and student projects called Machine Learning for Social Good.