Towson engineering startup
Sustainable Infrastructure of North America LLC
is going after its first round of angel funding of $115,000 by the middle of this year. The startup will seek to close on its second funding round of $500,000 by the end of the year. The company's goal is to have raised $1.3 million by early next year, primarily from investors and loans and, possibly, its first product.
Founder and Owner Tom Greene, says the money will be used to produce aesir, a computer system intended to replace existing bridge inspection equipment. By 2015, he plans to produce another four aesirs.
The aesir system will contain three-dimensional, ground-penetrating radar, laser profiling and digital imaging. The system will be mounted on top of a van that is driven on or under a bridge. Scanning the bridge in a 3-D format allows the inspector to find defects below the surface, where deterioration typically starts.
The system’s data will then be analyzed to pinpoint where and what the problems are, and to compare it with previous bridge inspections for rate of deterioration.
Greene says technology like 3-D and lasers already exists, and aesir will integrate it into a single system. A Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPs) grant for more than $400,000 is funding development of the system Greene says.
There are more than 600,000 bridges in the US, of which about 159,000 are in urban locations. The bridges must be inspected annually or every two years depending under whose jurisdiction – local, state or federal – they fall.
Greene expects to price the aesir, which can be used multiple times, at about $400,000. He will initially market it to government agencies and, subsequently, to engineering firms that are often hired to inspect bridges.
“The infrastructure is aging while the traffic is increasing. You have the same number of bridges from the 1970s but traffic volume is six times greater and trucks are much bigger,” he says.
Greene founded Sustainable Infrastructure in 2011. A year later, the company moved into the TowsonGlobal Business Incubator at Towson University. The company has a staff of three.
“Aesir has potential use in tunnels but right now we’re focusing on bridges,” he says.
Source: Tom Greene, Sustainable Infrastructure of North America LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash