Delft-based Villari, a startup developing a technological sensor solution to detect cracks in steel structures, announced on Monday, October 3, that it has received €350K from proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ.
UNIIQ is a €28.8M investment fund that helps entrepreneurs in South Holland to bring their innovation to the market faster. It provides startup money to entrepreneurs so they may carry out their ideas and cross the “riskiest” phase between an innovative idea and a potential business. The fund was established in 2016 by TU Delft, Erasmus MC, Leiden University, and the regional development company InnovationQuarter.
According to the Dutch startup, the raised capital will be used for further development, research and expansion of the team.
A permanent monitoring solution for crack in steel structures
Bridges and lifting equipment made of steel requires a lot of expensive maintenance, especially if they are “aged”, according to Villari. Many bridges in Europe are from the 1960s and are outdated. Inspectors are sent, but their services are expensive and the process is complex and time-consuming.
Additionally, these inspections result in the closure of (important) highways, adding to expenditures along with a negative impact on society and the environment. This is where Villari steps in.
The company claims to have given owners constant access to information regarding the “health” of steel buildings. This lessens the requirement for inspections and facilitates the planning of repairs and improvements.
Villari is an early-stage startup developing technology for detecting cracks and monitoring steel structures. It does that by placing sensors in strategic places where it can then detect cracking with high accuracy (1-10 mm). These measurements are continuously made and analysed using algorithms developed by Villari.
The company says, “We believe our structural health monitoring technologies play a vital role in safely extending the lifetime of ageing assets while significantly reducing the CO2 emissions generated by premature replacements, reinforcements, and repairs.”
Examples of large organisations that own a lot of steel assets are Rijkswaterstaat (more than a thousand bridges) and Tata Steel, which produces seven million tons of steel per year.
The Villari team has a background in management, consulting, and research. Olivier Baas (CEO) conducted research at TNO during his MSc Civil Engineering, where he became familiar with the physics behind the sensors and the field of structural health monitoring. Following his time as a researcher at TU Delft, he founded Villari.
Floris Achterberg, COO of Villari, has an MSc in Transport Engineering & Logistics, and has worked as a project manager at Roland Berger for eight years. Additionally, he also received an MBA from Barcelona’s IESE Business School.