VAPAR completes AUD$2.5M raise to lead global expansion with AI pipe inspection software
Media release: 9 June 2022
A huge milestone for us as we announce that we have raised AUD$2,500,000 in seed funding to lead our expansion into global markets.
Founded at the beginning of 2018, VAPAR started with a vision to help utilities eliminate unexpected pipe failures by building a data-driven way of implementing pipe maintenance and rehabilitation.
Engineers, Amanda Siqueira, CEO, and Michelle Aguilar, CTO, co-founded the disruptive start-up after witnessing first-hand the tedious and time-consuming tasks of manual video inspection.
Siqueira said, “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”. Unplanned pipe repairs cost water utilities around the globe billions of dollars. Over USD$88 billion is spent on repairing pipes, and VAPAR is well positioned to address that market with cutting-edge deep learning technology.
“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,” Siqueira asserts.
$88 Bn AUD is spent on pipeline maintenance globally per annum. With VAPAR, critical asset management that would otherwise take weeks to complete can be conducted in minutes with a few clicks.
Over the last 4 years, the VAPAR team have developed and iterated on their technology offering to meet the global market demands. “As a successful graduate of Microsoft’s start-up program, we’ve been watching VAPAR grow year on year and it’s fantastic to see Australian technology making such an impact with two women at the helm. VAPAR’s customers globally are looking for a reliable, resilient and cost-effective solution to improve their asset management and predictive maintenance capability as they move toward a more environmentally sustainable future.” – Lizelle Hughes, ISV & SaaS Partnerships Director, Microsoft Australia.
Today, VAPAR is used by a range of water utility organisations, including large forward-thinking organisations such as United Utilities (UK), Anglian Water (UK) and Greater Western Water (AU) amongst a range of others. Samantha Sloan, Network Business Manager for United Utilities, says “We were thrilled to be introduced to VAPAR through our 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. 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”. VAPAR’s growing customer base in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand will be used as a launchpad to expand into the massive US market.
VAPAR raised $2.5M AUD in seed funding from London Stock Exchange-listed Halma Ventures and Australian Sprint Ventures, Access Capital Ventures (S.E Asia) and Metagrove Ventures (Aus and US).
The company’s seed funding round closed with a diverse range of investors from various industries. Investors include Halma Ventures, Sprint Ventures, Access Capital Ventures and Metagrove Ventures. Andrew Williams, Halma’s Group Chief Executive, commented “VAPAR’s mission – to deliver the right technology to eliminate repetitive manual tasks in infrastructure management – is fully aligned to our purpose to grow a safer, cleaner and healthier future for everyone, every day. Our partnership will enable VAPAR to expand their markets internationally while bringing new technologies and capabilities to the Group and specifically our companies in Halma’s Environmental & Analysis sector.”
Llew Jury, Sprint Ventures’ Managing Partner was 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. 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.”
With customers already established in Australia and the United Kingdom, VAPAR’s funding will fuel further expansion across the UK and into the US market.
Siqueira and Aguilar plan to use the funds to hire locally and scale the business further into the exciting US and UK markets. Most of the funds will be used for data science and software development hires. Aguilar said, “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. 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.”