Wastewater Analysis Americas

Who is SewerAI? Cleantech investment firm backs AI start-up

Thursday, 7 April 2022

AI diagnostics start-up SewerAI has received investment from Emerald Technology Ventures as the company looks to meet ambitions.

Meet the new disruptive sewer start-up

Cleantech investment firm Emerald Technology Ventures has led an investment round in SewerAI, an artificial intelligence (AI) sewer infrastructure diagnostics start-up.

Based in Walnut Creek, California, SewerAI was founded back in 2019 and is an early-stage start-up.

It attracted the attention of Emerald Technology Ventures amid the calling for a modernisation of all water infrastructure including drinking water and wastewater system.

“SewerAI provides technology that triples sewer inspection productivity, enabling utilities to address ageing infrastructure and compliance cost-effectively,” said water fund head Dr Helge Daebel, who will also join SewerAI’s board following this funding round.

“The company has the goal to help urban cities identify 10,000 undiscovered issues in 2022.”

“Its solutions are truly game-changing and we’re excited about its prospects in a space ripe for disruption," added Daebel.

SewerAI's CEO and co-founder Matthew Rosenthal said the company is looking to meet the growing demand for sewer monitoring technology and has set a goal to inspect 25 million feet of piping and help urban cities identify 10,000 undiscovered issues in 2022.

The start-up focuses on changing how utilities monitor and maintain their underground sewer infrastructure through a tool that lets utilities automatically detect the conditions in a pipeline. Data is gathered by using CCTV sewer crawlers, digital side scanners, drones, GoPro cameras and jetter cameras.

Data is fed into the company’s web-based platform, which enables utilities and engineers to review condition reports, send and receive submittals, as well as allowing for collaboration in capital planning.

Joining the US water infrastructure revolution

The tides are changing in the US. Last year, the bi-partisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act passed with a staggering majority and saw more than $35 billion in funding released to upgrade America's drinking and wastewater systems.

Of the $35 billion total funding, more than 40 per cent will directly benefit small, disadvantaged, rural, and tribal communities through State Revolving Loan Funds or direct grant programmes.

“With investments to identify and prevent water loss, test water quality, increase resilience in infrastructure, and recruit the next generation of our water workforce, the priorities laid out in the bill speak to the bipartisan goal of ensuring neglected water systems are not merely tended to, but made stronger,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee on introducing the bill.

Coupled with this is an increased amount of interest in water from environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment funds.

ESG investment continues

At the end of 2021, Reuters reported that a record US$649 billion had been pumped into ESG-focused funds worldwide. An increase of US$107 billion in just one year.

"It was a watershed year."

And it was a chance for investment funds to challenge companies' ESG credentials.

"It was a watershed year," said Tim Smith, a director at investment management firm Boston Trust Walden.

According to the Sustainable Investments Institute, support for social and environmental proposals at the shareholder meetings of US companies rose to 32 per cent in 2021 from 27 per cent in 2020.

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