Afternoon Coffee: U.S. factories struggle to restart after pause for COVID-19; Jobs numbers worse than forecast; Keelvar raises $18 million

An already weakened U.S. industrial sector is now finding it tough to get going after weeks of hibernation because of the coronavirus pandemic. What's making it especially harder are jumbled supply chains and less efficient plants, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. economy contracted 5% in the first quarter of 2020. Some experts expect it to contract even more in the second quarter, the article reports. Some U.S. factories are looking for alternative suppliers to compensate for plants that remain closed, the Journal states.

Jobs numbers worse than forecast

Last week’s filings for unemployment were worse than expected, according to a CNBC report. In addition, the overall unemployment numbers didn’t improve as expected.

“Continuing claims, which provide a clearer picture of how many Americans remain unemployed, totaled 21.5 million, a gain of 649,000 over the past week, also worse than Wall Street expected,” the article states.

Irish startup Keelvar gets $18 million to expand in Europe and U.S.

Keelvar, an advanced AI-driven e-sourcing software for supply chains, received $18 million in Series A funding led by Elephant and Mosaic Ventures, with participation from Paua Ventures, according to EU-Startups.com.

The funds will be used to expand its supply chain automation solution across Europe and the U.S., the demand for which has been accelerated further by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the article states.

Founded in 2012, Keelvar provides enterprises with advanced sourcing optimization software and intelligent sourcing automation that uses AI-enabled sourcing bots to fully automate tactical buying processes.

"Keelvar has significant potential. And it's great to see them get a substantial round in this environment,” said Jason Busch, Spend Matters’ Founder and author of our Nexus content, which focuses on investing, M&A and corporate development in the procurement technology space. “Keelvar is not alone. The market for sourcing optimization and ‘augmented sourcing’ is getting more crowded, but the playing field is massive. Dozens of providers could be giant winners here in the end."

Keelvar is also featured in our SolutionMap Sourcing rankings. Click the link to see how the sourcing market stacks up.

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