University spin-out business secures £1m investment for new technology

Nov 04, 2019

Mercia Fund Managers – Corrosion Radar. Cranfield. 10 July 2019. Seated left to right are: Corrosion Radar founders CEO Chiraz Ennaceur, Mehrdad Silatani and Prafull Sharma. Pictured with left to right: Bill Yost (Mercia Fund Managers), Lewis Stringer ( British Business Bank), Robert Evans (Cranfield University), Glen Clark ( Finance Director CR), Richard Green ( Chairman CR) and Vicky Hloumka ( SEMLEP Growth Hub). Picture by Simon Hadley. Simon Hadley Photography. 07774 193699

A SPIN-OUT business that has found a new way to detect corrosion and prevent leaks in assets such as pipelines has completed a £1 million funding round.

CorrosionRADAR has secured investment from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, alongside additional funds from Mercia and private investors and grants from the government’s Innovate UK and the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

The company, based at Cranfield, addresses the challenge of how to detect corrosion in pipelines and other assets where the surface is covered by insulation. It uses a network of sensors placed on the pipe to continuously monitor its condition and detect problem areas, along with advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to predict where faults are likely to occur. 

The system allows facilities managers to focus their resources most effectively and helps prevent leaks.

The technology was developed by PhD student Prafull Sharma and Professor Hoi Yeung. They joined forces with fellow PhD student Mehrdad Silatani and experienced industrialist Chiraz Ennaceur to launch the company in 2017, with backing from Mercia and a grant from Innovate UK.

The system is already being used by large corporates such as Solvay, Sitech and Reliance Industries. This latest round of investment will allow the team to develop new hardware for the oil, gas and petrochemicals industries, while enhancing its predictive analytics and software, creating 10 new jobs for sales and marketing staff.

The annual global cost of corrosion is estimated at over £2 trillion by the worldwide corrosion authority NACE. CorrosionRADAR chief executive Dr Chiraz Ennaceur said: “Corrosion is the biggest failure mechanism in the world, with a huge cost to industry. Our vision is to transform corrosion management through smart digital solutions and help pipeline owners and operators to have a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly operation.”

Bill Yost, investment manager at Mercia, added: “CorrosionRADAR’s technology solves a major challenge for the oil, gas and chemicals industries and offers a more cost-effective way to manage and maintain infrastructure. This investment will allow the company to further develop its system and reach out to the global marketplace.”

SEMLEP’s Growth Hub manager Vicky Hlomuka said: “Businesses in the South East Midlands are at the cutting-edge of innovation, where clever ideas and new technologies come together into smart business solutions.

“CorrosionRADAR is a perfect example of this. Investing in businesses through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund is integral in helping companies with this kind of innovation to take the next step in their business journey.”  

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fundas part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

British Business Bank director Grant Peggie said: “It is great to see the Midlands Engine Investment Fund supporting innovation in the Midlands. I would encourage other growing, innovative businesses, particularly university spin-out companies, in the region to consider MEIF as a potential funding option.”

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