VAPAR Secures AUD $5M Investment from Autodesk, PureTerra Ventures and Existing Backers to Drive Global Expansion into North America
Sydney, Australia – 22 January 2024: Australian deep-tech pipeline maintenance software company, VAPAR, today announced it has raised AUD$5,000,000 in funding for expansion into North American markets.
Women engineers, Amanda Siqueira, CEO, and Michelle Aguilar, CTO, co-founded VAPAR in 2018, inspired by Siqueira’s experience as an engineering intern manually reviewing sewer inspection videos for 8-hours a day. This error-prone and subjective process spurred them to develop a streamlined, tech-driven, AI-based solution.
VAPAR raised AUD$5,000,000 in global investor support
The VC round was led by Dutch water technology specialist, PureTerra Ventures. PureTerra, is renowned for its commitment to advancing sustainable and innovative solutions in the water sector. Also investing in this round is Autodesk, Inc., a leading software provider for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, product design, media and entertainment industries. All existing institutional investors (Halma Ventures (UK), Sprint Ventures (AU), Access Capital Ventures (AU) and Metagrove Ventures (USA), amongst others) participated in the oversubscribed raise.
VAPAR’s VC funding will fuel further expansion across North America
Building on its established customer base in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, the additional funding raised in this round, bolstered by the investment from Autodesk, will provide VAPAR with the opportunity to focus on US expansion which it anticipates will contribute to the transformation of the aging infrastructure in North America.
Over 3 billion feet of sewer pipes are inspected globally every year
Ageing sewer pipes, climate change and growing populations place huge pressures on the global sewer network, making sewer overflows and flooding more common. These events are investigated using cameras, requiring hours of inspection videos to be manually reviewed to find problems. The manual process is time-consuming, inaccurate and subjective, wasting time and rate payer funds. Without a better way, the risk of escalating sewer overflows will only increase.
VAPAR’s technology unlocks the necessary efficiencies in pipeline investment decision-making. Siqueira said, “Billions are spent every year by global water utilities on fixing their pipes, over half of which is spent in North America. Despite the massive investment, there isn’t enough data and dollars available – utilities must commit to doing things differently. Artificial intelligence can unlock unprecedented efficiencies. Our vision is to create a world where critical infrastructure investment meets the needs of our communities.”
VAPAR’s product has already been enthusiastically embraced by water authorities in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. These organisations have made more than 20,000 pipe investment decisions based on VAPAR’s AI-powered insights following the review of almost 6 million feet of underground pipes in 2023. Kieran Brocklebank, United Utilities Head of Innovation, said “It’s great to be part of the VAPAR journey since we first started working with them in our Innovation Lab in 2019. Since then, we have been using VAPAR’s technology to help optimise investment decision making on our wastewater network from an 80% reduction in manual review time for our teams, and over 20% rationalisation in potential follow-on works”. VAPAR has started working with North American utilities to replicate their products success. New York City Department of Environmental Protection (USA), in collaboration with the Environmental Tech Lab (ETL), selected VAPAR as a finalist in a competition seeking to enhance operational efficiency and data utilization for its extensive 660,000 foot wastewater network.
VAPAR expects North American expansion to be accelerated by the new investment from Autodesk. “At Autodesk, we see AI as a tool that enables teams to be more effective and efficient and to uncover new solutions through data-powered insights. VAPAR’s approach to AI image technology will accelerate the inspections, maintenance and repairs of sewers and drainage systems with AI-powered insights,” said Amy Bunszel, EVP of Architecture, Engineering and Construction Design Solutions at Autodesk. “This investment in VAPAR will help make its AI-powered technology more accessible, enabling utilities and municipalities across the globe to achieve more resilient infrastructure for their communities.”
VAPAR’s revenue and product usage has doubled every year for the last four years, giving investors’ confidence in the team and the scale of the market opportunity. Alex Crowell, Partner at PureTerra Ventures, said “VAPAR’s performance is standout in the evolving water management technology space. Showcasing their strong customer advocacy, a quick-to-adopt product and an impact-driven team made our decision an easy one. This investment will not only expand VAPAR’s customer reach but also substantially reduce pipe failures, which reflects our shared commitment to sustainable water infrastructure development globally.”
Siqueira and Aguilar intend to utilize the funding for recruitment and North American expansion. Aguilar said, “The face of AI is changing rapidly, and we’re proud to be pioneering this deep learning technology in such an impactful way for the water industry. With our increasing customer base, we now support a wide range of industry standards, time zones and languages. Investing funds to double our team, add new verticals and start our North American office will ramp the number of customers that can benefit from this technology.”
VAPAR is creating the fastest way to the right pipeline investment decision. VAPAR was founded in January 2018 in Sydney, Australia by two women engineers on a mission to eliminate failures in underground infrastructure to ensure critical infrastructure investment meets the needs of our communities. Today the company serves water authorities in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand proudly supported by a multi-regional team of 17 team members.