VAPAR an Australian startup in the Internet of Things arena which utilises artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate condition assessments for stormwater and sewerage pipelines, has raised $AU700,000 in seed funding.

The funding round closed with a diverse range of angel investors in addition to Startmate and Australia’s premier VC, Blackbird Ventures, who are also investors in Canva, SafetyCulture, and Culture Amp.

The company, which began two years ago started says it aims to bring emerging technology into the traditional asset management space and revolutionise the way infrastructure is tracked, repaired and maintained.

Co-founders Amanda Siqueira, CEO, and Michelle Aguilar, CTO, said they started the business after witnessing first-hand the tedious and time-consuming tasks of manual video inspection.

Their software is used by water utilities and local councils to reduce the time needed for inspection reviews. They says the time savings are dramatic dropping from two weeks to two minutes, while reducing costs by more than 30 per cent.

Its early customers include Sydney Water, SA Water, City of Ryde, Blacktown City Council and Campbelltown City Council and the team is now gearing up for further national and international growth.

According to Michael Batko, CEO of Startmate, 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. We are very excited to be supporting the team on their international trajectory”.

Siqueira said, “VAPAR has gone from strength to strength, as 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. We’re excited about our next phase of growth and working with our investors to address market demand.”

Siqueira and Aguilar say they plan to use the funds to hire locally and scale the business from Sydney. This includes VAPAR’s most recent hire, Saeed Amirgholipour as Lead AI and Data Scientist. Prior to joining VAPAR, Amirgholipour was an AI and Machine Learning Specialist at CSIRO’s Data61 and undertook his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Technology Sydney.

Aguilar said, “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. Saeed has joined VAPAR at a critical time as the organisation steps up to the next level, and we look forward to delivering truly innovative engineering solutions to the asset management market as a team.”

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