Meet VAPAR, one of the companies joining the Innovation Lab

With the United Utilities Innovation Lab now well underway, it’s brilliant to see the suppliers working closely with our teams to launch pilots and refine their solutions. 

We’ve been sitting down with a different supplier each week, finding out more about their goals for the Lab and understanding how their solutions will benefit our customers. This week we met with Michelle Aguilar, CTO and Co-founder of VAPAR.

Hi Michelle, thanks for joining us! So, what is VAPAR?

Utilities companies inspect their pipes for faults with cameras, driving them through pipe networks and capturing video. Back at the utility company, some poor soul has to watch hours and hours of footage to spot defects and then figure out the best ways to repair them. 

At VAPAR, we’ve developed AI models that can automate this process by identifying defects and suggesting solutions, saving the many, many hours that it takes to do this manually. 

What attracted you to the Lab?

We’ve been working with mentors from across different industries as part of an accelerator programme back in Australia. One of our mentors passed on information about the United Utilities Innovation Lab and encouraged us to apply. 

What benefits will VAPAR bring to United Utilities’ customers in the North West?

VAPAR helps utilities speed up repairs and maintenance for their drainage, storm water and sewage pipes, which, in turn, helps to prevent bursts, leaks and blockages. United Utilities customers will therefore experience fewer issues with their water supply and wastewater services. 

What are you hoping to achieve in the remaining weeks of the Lab?

Our biggest goal for the Lab is to adapt VAPAR to meet UK standards. We’re an Austrailian company and this is our first time working in the UK market, so it’s essential that we understand UK standards and adapt to ensure we’re meeting them. 

We want to use United Utilities historic data to help us refine and test our model. We aim to improve our accuracy so we can identify defects that might have gone unnoticed and understand new situations and applications, helping us build out our models.   

We also intend to start building new features, specific to United Utilities’ business needs and the issues their teams have encountered. These features will similarly be useful for other utilities. 

In three words, what does innovation mean to you?

Clever, new and value-adding.

Looking ahead, where do you see VAPAR in two years?

We want to expand out of sewer and storm water pipes to work with other infrastructure inspected in similar ways, including gas and oil pipes and data and electrical cables. We also want to broaden our international experience, whilst maintaining our great relationship with United Utilities.