Sydney's VAPAR receives grant to help councils and utilities manage stormwater and sewerage assets

- January 9, 2019 2 MIN READ

Sydney startup VAPAR, whose artificial intelligence technology is helping councils and utilities providers manage their stormwater and sewerage assets, has received a $25,000 MVP Grant from Jobs for NSW.

Founded by Amanda Siqueira, a civil engineer, and Michelle Aguilar, a mechatronic engineer, the business was born out of Siqueira during an internship having to manually review hours of pipe CCTV inspection footage to identify any problems.

“As an intern I spent eight hours a day watching this footage just looking for faults, a time consuming and fatiguing process,” Siqueira said.

“Michelle and I thought up a better way of reviewing the footage that used Michelle’s background in enterprise automation and machine learning.”

Rather than engineers spending hundreds of hours reviewing footage, VAPAR will allow councils and water utilities to upload video to the VAPAR platform for automatic analysis.

According to Aguilar, the system can cut a two day process down to two minutes. This, she said, can reduce inspection costs by 30 percent, and allow on-site repair work to be carried out straight after the inspection.

The market for VAPAR is significant.

“With over 200,000 kilometres of gravity pipelines in Australia alone and $450 million spent each year maintaining sewerage networks, early detection and repair of faults in pipelines avoids the expensive process of digging up pipes once they are broken,” Aguilar said.

Beyond Australia, VAPAR is also looking to India.

The startup is taking part in a 12 month incubator program, run by Fusion Labs with support from the NSW Government, helping participants explore and prepare for opportunities in the Indian market.

“In India we will be talking with IT providers and government asset managers to learn as much as we can to develop business strategies for that market,” Siqueira said.

The Fusion Labs incubator is part of a wider focus for NSW on the Indian market, with the state government last year announcing a $1.58 million partnership aimed at building tech links between the two markets.

The government last June facilitated a week-long fintech mission to India for eight startups, and in October launched the NSW-India Cyber Security Exchange in collaboration with the Optus Macquarie Cyber Security Hub.

Running this September, the initiative will give 10 startups access to an intensive program of workshops, a 12-day trip to India, and a visit to Singtel Innov8’s cybersecurity startup hub in Singapore.

According to Fusion Labs CEO Matt Adendorff, the next few years will see India need more products and services NSW is “well placed” to provide.