Engineering startup VAPAR, which utilises artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to check the condition of stormwater and sewerage pipelines, has raised AU$700,000 in seed funding led by Blackbird Ventures and Startmate, as well as angel investors.
CEO Amanda Siqueira and CTO Michelle Aguilar, both engineering graduates from the University of Technology, Sydney, co-founded their startup in 2018 to solve the tedious and time-consuming tasks of manual video inspection of pipelines by councils and water utilities. Their technology is already being used by Sydney Water and SA Water, and several Sydney councils, with the duo now gearing up for further national and international growth.
VAPAR’s software reduces the time taken for inspection reviews from two weeks to two minutes, reducing costs by more than 30% in the process.
Siqueira and Aguilar, who featured on the Startup Daily show on ausbiz last month to mark International Women in Engineering Day, managed to raise the seed funds in just two months.
The funds are being used to add to the team and scale in Sydney, with Saeed Amirgholipour, a former AI and ML specialist at the CSIRO’s Data61 signing on as Lead AI and Data Scientist.
Aguilar said he joins “at a critical time as the organisation steps up to the next level”.
“We have big things coming up on our technical roadmap and are excited to be growing our data science and engineering teams as we continue to serve new customers and expand the business,” she said.
Startmate CEO Michael Batko said the VAPAR team are the first movers in this space and are pioneering the application of AI technology for the global critical services water market.
Siqueira said VAPAR has gone from strength to strength.
“We’ve been able to solve a clear and complex problem for utilities and councils using the latest technologies, all while aligning with engineering standards that government organisations demand,” she said.
“We’re excited about our next phase of growth and working with our investors to address market demand.”