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  • Mar 2, 2022
  • Comments Off on IoT/AI solutions start-up, SpaceAge Labs, raises US$1.25 million in seed funding to make cities cleaner, greener, and safer
  • Corporate, News
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March 2nd, 2022
IoT/AI solutions start-up, SpaceAge Labs, raises US$1.25 million in seed funding to make cities cleaner, greener, and safer

SINGAPORE – “Growing populations, increased urbanisation, rising labour costs, lack of skilled workers, high safety standards and social distancing stipulations – various factors have been coming together resulting in the strong need for remote monitoring and IoT/AI solutions. This is why we set up SpaceAge Labs – to help governments and corporations improve the way they are managing their widespread assets for improved efficiency, reliability and safety,” explained Mr Deepak Pitta, founder and CEO of SpaceAge Labs.

Others obviously believe in Deepak’s vision. SpaceAge Labs today revealed that it has secured seed funding of US$1.25 million, led by Silicon Solution Partners (SSP), a VC firm supporting deep tech start-ups, and SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore. SpaceAge Labs is also supported by NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Imagine H2O (a water innovation accelerator) and PUB’s Singapore Water Exchange. Planetspark, a wholly owned subsidiary of SGX mainboard listed Excelpoint Technology Ltd. is also a partner working closely with SpaceAge Labs to help accelerate their technology alongside joining the round as an investor. Mr Sunil Rai and Mr Shivam Ahuja from Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP served as legal advisers to SpaceAge Labs in this seed round. The start-up will use this seed funding to grow its team, expand internationally, and roll out several pilot projects across SingaporeAustralia, and the U.S.

“We view SpaceAge Labs as having a strong and experienced technical team with successful use cases in the deployment of cost-competitive IoT solutions, with both a hardware and software platform to improve the real time monitoring and manpower productivity enhancement in traditional eco real estate management. This will further expand their business traction into other commercial segments as well,” said David Ng, CEO of SSP.

“SpaceAge Lab’s innovative solutions, which are designed to help businesses in water and landscaping services to monitor their outdoor and remote assets, could potentially help drive their digitalization journey in the new normal as they create operational efficiencies and additional revenue streams. We look forward to supporting SpaceAge Lab on their commercialization journey, alongside our co-investor      Silicon Solutions Partners,” said Ms Tan Kaixin, General Manager, SEEDS Capital.

Revolutionising monitoring

SpaceAge Labs is a deep tech start-up that was incubated at NUS Enterprise @Singapore Science Park (more on page 3). It is revolutionising operations and maintenance of remote and distributed assets by collecting asset data using low power, long-range wireless IoT devices, together with advanced AI software to generate valuable insights from this data. This increases the asset’s uptime (due to data-driven predictive maintenance), reduces cost (less manpower required) and provides peace of mind (operators gain real-time asset visibility).

The company’s flagship product is remoteEye, a complete, sensor-agnostic IoT/AI platform that enables connected operations and maintenance. remoteEye consists of three parts:

  1. rEye IoT Nodes – These are low-powered, wireless devices that read and transmit data from industrial sensors located at the assets.
  2. Wireless networks – The sensor data is transmitted via low power wide area wireless networks to the cloud. The networks are at low cost (from S$1 per month per device), able to transmit over long distances (several kilometres) and consume low power (up to five years of battery life).
  3. rEye Data Cloud – Enterprise-grade IoT/AI software that stores, analyses, and visualises this sensor data. This software is secure, easy to use and able to scale easily from managing one asset to thousands of assets. Proprietary AI software and geospatial data analysis provides useful insights and predictions that can be accessed via web or mobile.

While remoteEye can be applied in various sectors, SpaceAge Labs is initially targeting three sectors: Water/Wastewater; Urban Greenery/Landscaping; and Facilities management. SpaceAge Labs has IoT deployments with more than 30 customers, including two key Smart Nation pilot projects in Singapore: Firstly, working with National Parks Board (NParks) to digitalize grass-cutting operations to improve contractor efficiencies; and secondly helping the Public Utilities Board (PUB) to monitor for manhole overflow events in Singapore’s wastewater network. See Annex 1 and 2 for details on the NParks and PUB pilots.

Seed funding to be used for new pilots and company expansion

SpaceAge Labs will continue to embark on more pilots, to demonstrate the benefits of its remoteEye IoT solution, as well as to find new customers and partners. In first half of 2022, SpaceAge Labs will conduct pilots with landscaping companies in Australia, to help improve efficiencies of their grass-cutting work in Brisbane and Sydney. If these are successful, it could lead to nation-wide deployments. Similar landscaping pilots will be conducted in the U.S. in the latter half of 2022. In Singapore, SpaceAge Labs plans to conduct several pilots, which will monitor water consumption patterns and detect leaks in facilities, monitor weather/air quality in outdoor spaces, monitor water quality in swimming pools and water play areas, and monitor remote mechanical/ electrical equipment, such as decentralised water treatment skids and water tankers.

“We hope to conduct more pilot trials with companies and governments, to showcase how remoteEye results in benefits including cost savings, improved safety/hygiene levels, improved performance and reduced reliance on manpower. In order to do so, we will need to increase our headcount and expand internationally. Currently, our team consists of 12 people, mainly in Singapore, though one of our co-founders has moved to Australia to supervise the pilots there. Over the next 6-12 months, we plan to double our headcount, requiring people in Product Development and Sales & Marketing functions. We also hope to open international offices in Australia and the U.S. in order to reach our target audience better,” explained Mr Deepak Pitta.

SpaceAge Labs’ entrepreneurial journey

Deepak founded SpaceAge Labs in 2016, along with co-founders Mr Ananth Subba (Chief Technology Officer, who is currently based in Australia), Mr Leela Krishna (Chief Business Officer) and Mr Sashikumar Y (Chief Product Officer). The company was originally a consulting company, designing end-to-end IoT solutions for its customers, but pivoted in 2017 to become a product company. In the same year, SpaceAge Labs became an NUS Enterprise incubatee, based within NUS Enterprise’s deep-tech incubation facility in Singapore Science Park I, where access to hardware, a proto-typing lab, as well as networks to potential partners and customers helped the start-up tremendously.

SpaceAge Labs also collaborated with the NUS Office of Facilities Management team to trial the first version of its remoteEye IoT solution. This trial was conducted to detect faulty streetlights on the NUS Kent Ridge Campus, leading to improved safety for pedestrians and drivers at night. As SpaceAge Labs grew in size, it required more space. In 2020, SpaceAge Labs moved to its own unit at PUB’s Singapore Water Exchange, to be closer to the water industry ecosystem, which is one of its key target verticals.

For more information, please visit https://www.spaceage-labs.com/

About SpaceAge Labs

SpaceAge labs provides cutting-edge remote monitoring and IoT/AI solutions, combining hardware, low-power wireless connectivity and advanced software. This tech start-up aims to help operations and maintenance teams to increase uptime, reduce costs and improve safety. For more information, please visit https://www.spaceage-labs.com/

About Silicon Solution Partners (SSP)

Silicon Solution Partners supports and manages investment fund in start-ups that operate in the Electronics & Semiconductor industries. Its investment focus is in industries including IOT, Smart Security ID & Tagging, Smart Home Control, Bio-metrics/Industrial/Automotive sensor & monitor, VR/AR/AI/AV chipset, Drone, Robotics & Connected Manufacturing as well as Energy power management. Silicon Solution Partners seeks to support the capital investments of start-ups within their portfolio to help them attain growth, through its Silicon Solution Ventures (SSV) fund setup. For more information, please visit https://sspartners.co/

About NUS Enterprise

NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of NUS, plays a pivotal role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship at NUS and beyond. It actively promotes entrepreneurship and cultivates global mind-sets and talents through the synergies of experiential entrepreneurial education, active industry partnerships, holistic entrepreneurship support and catalytic entrepreneurship outreach. Its initiatives and global connections support a range of entrepreneurial journeys and foster ecosystem building in new markets. These initiatives augment and complement the University’s academic programmes and act as a unique bridge to industry well beyond Singapore’s shores. For more information, please visit https://enterprise.nus.edu.sg.

About PlanetSpark Pte. Ltd.

PlanetSpark Pte. Ltd. (“PlanetSpark”), an entrepreneurial and investment arm of Excelpoint Technology Ltd., invests in, supports and collaborates with promising early- to mid-stage start-ups in Singapore and Asia that are related to the Internet of Things (“IoT”) ecosystem.

For more information on PlanetSpark, please visit www.planetspark.io

Annex 1 – Where the grass is greener.

The National Parks Board (NParks) manages over 13,000 hectares of green spaces in Singapore. The grass maintenance services for these areas are provided by grass-cutting contractors. Contractors and NParks staff would previously have to conduct sites checks on the quality and completion of the grass-cutting operation. With many locations and a large area managed by NParks, it is a challenge to physically monitor each location regularly.

To overcome this challenge, NParks partnered with SpaceAge Labs to pilot a remote monitoring solution to measure the completion and quality of grass cutting work in real time. IoT devices are worn by grass-cutters using push lawn mowers or handheld grass trimmers. They can also be installed on equipment such as sit-on mowers. These sensors transmit data on the height of grass (post-cut) as well as high precision GPS location data to the cloud, available via web dashboards and a mobile app, where contractors and NParks staff can easily verify the completion and quality of the grass-cutting operation. This also helps to expedite payment to the contractors as NParks can quickly confirm they have completed their work satisfactorily. These operational data and insights enable the contractors to improve their efficiencies, through better deployment of resources, resulting in lower labour and fuel costs.

“NParks manages some 400 parks, 3,347 hectares of nature reserves, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Pulau Ubin and the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. It is important that we take steps to make operations more precise and think of ways to overcome physical and manpower limitations through the adoption of technology. Leveraging on SpaceAge Lab’s smart technology, we have been able to conduct grass height inspections more effectively with less manpower. The grass height sensor is currently deployed as part of the pilot of park and greenery management using digital tools in the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio precinct. This project supports our landscape sector transformation plan that aims to elevate and grow the local landscape sector through digitalisation, mechanisation and professionalisation,” said Mr Ryan Lee, Group Director, National Parks Board.

Annex 2 – Water water everywhere…

Sewer overflows can lead to infrastructure damage, public safety and environmental health concerns. In order to prevent sewer overflows in Singapore’s wastewater network, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) began a pilot trial with SpaceAge Labs in January 2021.

This trial saw SpaceAge Labs installing some 40 IoT devices in sewer manholes across the wastewater network in the areas of Little India, Geylang and Serangoon Gardens, which were more prone to chokages and subsequent overflows. These battery-operated wireless IoT devices are installed inside the harsh, confined conditions within a sewer manhole, providing PUB with real-time alerts when waste water levels within the sewer system rises too high. When alerted, PUB officers would quickly check for blockages downstream. More importantly, the solution provides early feedback to PUB officers to act in advance to clear any blockages in the sewer pipes and prevent overflows. Through the use of its real-time monitoring solution, SpaceAge Labs was able to inform PUB on areas that are likely to be blocked, so that PUB could take proactive, preventative actions to prevent overflows.

When SpaceAge Labs embarked on this pilot with PUB, they knew that they could monitor water levels in sewer manholes at high blockage and flood risk areas, like Little India, Geylang and Serangoon Gardens. These areas have a high restaurant concentration and tend to have faster build-up of fat, oil and grease in the sewer network which will eventually lead to a blockage if not cleared. Over a twelve-month period from Jan 2021 to Dec 2021, SpaceAge Labs has successfully alerted PUB to 10 events within the wastewater network. PUB promptly cleared these blockages before any overflow events happened. SpaceAge Labs is pleased with the results of its remote monitoring solution and hopes to continue to partner PUB and provide them with a comprehensive monitoring solution catering to their needs.