AI-based stormwater and sewerage pipeline maintenance software VAPAR has raised AUD$2,500,000 in seed funding for its global expansion plans.
The raise was backed by LSE-listed Halma Ventures and Australian Sprint Ventures, Access Capital Ventures and Barry Winata’s Metagrove Ventures.
Female engineers, Amanda Siqueira, CEO, and Michelle Aguilar, CTO, co-founded VAPAR in 2018 after witnessing first-hand the tedious and time-consuming tasks of manual video inspection, enabling critical asset management that would otherwise take weeks to complete to be done in minutes with a few clicks.
The business is already established in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and the funding will fuel further expansion in the UK and into the US market.
Annual pipeline maintenance globally costs around A$88 billion, and VAPAR offers a proactive solution, with Siqueira pointing out that unplanned reactive maintenance costs 4-5 times the price of preventative measures.
“Our customers have been grappling with intense weather events, asset degradation and the rapid increase in the load from growing population to their pipe network for years and this will only continue to worsen. Something’s got to give, and when it does it usually happens without warning,” she said.
“We’ve started a global sewer revolution to stop unexpected pipe failures. They pollute our waterways and wreak havoc on our communities and businesses when sewage floods into properties. The data and technology are now available to build a sustainable way to manage our network. VAPAR is committed to unlocking this value with our customers using smart deep learning. There’s now a better way.”
A range of water utility organisations are now using VAPAR, including United Utilities in the UK. Network Business Manager Samantha Sloan said they were introduced to VAPAR via their Innovation Lab Program in 2019.
“We’ve worked closely with the team, helped them launch here in the UK and co-develop their product to create impact in our business. Today, we are rolling out VAPAR’s software in our pipe network programs to increase the efficiency of the end-to-end process,” she said.
“Through VAPAR’s software we are rapidly unlocking thousands of kilometres of data from our video inspections that were previously only available by having someone watch them”.
Aguilar said they’ll also be using the Seed funds to hire locally, especially in data science and software development, and scale the business further. Most of the funds will be used for hires.
“We are seeing exponential growth in the amount of inspections we are processing, and currently delivering over 100,000 metres of pipeline inspections per month within a couple of minutes of upload, completely self-serve,” she said.
“Our team has put together an ambitious roadmap to add more game-changing features and provide further efficiency gains and meet the increasing customer demand.”
Sprint Ventures’ Managing Partner Llew Jury said they were impressed by VAPAR’s focus on innovation and the ability of the team to deliver substantial productivity gains and insight to critical infrastructure managers.
“Sprint was built on the belief that extraordinary founders can build a better future, and Amanda and Michelle are the epitome of that vision,” he said.
“Frustrated by outdated practices and believing they could use their qualifications and technology to do better, they’re now leading pipeline maintenance innovation. With our strong ESG investing values, we are thrilled to invest in their continued growth.”