Uali, an AI-powered robotics company that specialises in drone surveys of energy assets, has secured a £625,000 investment by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund, from appointed fund manager The FSE Group.
The investment, which is part of as part of a larger £1.55 million funding round, will be used to establish the company’s UK office at the Newquay Aerohub, which will include a drone testing facility, bringing 20 jobs to the area over the next three years.
Focussed on the oil, gas and sustainable energy sectors, Uali offers a ‘drone-as-a-service’ solution to the costly problem of monitoring and reporting on the maintenance of difficult to reach sites such as oil rigs and wind farms.
Data is collected using drones, capturing images from clients’ operational sites. A real time analysis powered by AI records potential issues by identifying abnormalities from the information received and can even prepare an automated equipment parts order list.
Uali’s innovative end-to-end service is proving popular with market-leading companies such as Shell, Telefonica and YPF.
Ian Bogado, CEO at Uali, commented: “We’re a global company who see positioning ourselves in Cornwall as a smart move. It will help us seek out local talent and deliver what we need in terms of research and development. Additionally, Cornwall has five airfields available for us to test our existing and new products. We’re really excited to expand our UK operations and get our new team on board to help us further disrupt existing tech in a very fast-growing market.”
Anna Staevska, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, added: “Uali’s technology offers a real solution to a problem faced by anyone with a hard-to-reach asset, meaning their growth potential is fantastic. We’re delighted that such a strong company has seen the many advantages of basing themselves in Cornwall. Uali’s proven track record, agile team and impressive customer base makes them an attractive investment proposition and we are glad to welcome them to our growing CIOSIF portfolio.”
The £40m Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund provides debt and equity finance from £25,000 to £2 million to help growing small businesses across the region. It was established by the British Business Bank in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
John Acornley, LEP non-executive director and chair of the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “Uali combines artificial intelligence, robotics and unmanned aerial vehicles to turn field data into a valuable commodity. Their disruptive technology has many applications and we’re delighted the fund has enabled Uali to set up a new base in Cornwall.”
Paul Jones, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “The investment by CIOSIF has helped attract an innovative international business to Cornwall, that is committed to recruiting locally and developing a collaborative programme of research and development in the region. We look forward to its further growth.”
CIOSIF is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
For more information about the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund including how to apply, please visit www.ciosif.co.uk or follow the fund on Twitter at @CIOSIFBBB2