New funding for start-up that uses drones to inspect aging infrastructure

A Victoria technology start-up company with a new name and a new lease on life, now has new funding in place, which its founder believes will transform the company from small fry into a firm playing a major role in maintaining the globe’s aging infrastructure.

Niricson co-founder Harsh Rathod said a recently completed fundraising round of $800,000 will allow Niricson to continue developing its technology to open new markets and possibilities.

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“What we are trying to do is get to the next level, to do predictive analytics for clients, which would allow us to target a broader audience,” said Rathod.

Niricson, which uses its damage-assessment software and drone-based data collection system to inspect and assess large infrastructure projects, has been focused on analyzing dams for B.C. Hydro.

Rathod wants to expand the asset classes it can monitor to include bridges, power plants, tunnels and the like by building on the technology it has proved in its work with the B.C. utility.

Rathod admits he was a little surprised they were over-subscribed when they sought investment given the pandemic, but he found the story his company is telling appealed to potential clients in both in North America and Europe.

He believes the pandemic may have helped Niricson open the door to some markets.

Rathod said their system, which uses drones to fly around large civil infrastructure projects and collect data that can be analyzed in real time, is seen as an attractive option because it requires only two people to work at a time. The conventional method can require large work teams to live in relatively tight spaces on remote sites, which could be a safety issue.

Niricson’s system provides visual, thermal and acoustic analysis of concrete infrastructure. Rathod said his company is generating interest because its technology costs a fraction of more traditional labour-intensive methods.

There’s plenty of reason to anticipate serious growth for Niricson when you factor in aging infrastructure like bridges and tunnels around the world, and climate change, which exacerbates the damage done to structures, he said.

“We are only into the dam market right now but the potential is integrating our software into major infrastructure owners around the world, not just B.C. but all types of concrete asset classes around the world — that’s huge.”

The company, founded at the start of this year with Seattle-based Aki Tomita, was born from the dissolution of HRG Infrastructure at the end of last year. Rathod said he and the co-founder of that firm, which did the same kind of analytic work, had differing visions for the company.

“It was the best thing to do,” said Rathod.

It started with two ­employees, and is now eight, with another three expected to join before the end of this month.

After completing a small ­project for B.C. Hydro to test the technology, Niricson has since worked on two others for the utility.

Rathod said they have since had a lot of interest out of Europe and across North America.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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