AlphaOne and Nuarda: Australian Centre for Robotic Vision’s newest start-ups
Greater than 80% of start-up founders in Australia are university graduates. Universities Australia released a report in March 2017, highlighting the important role universities play in the country’s largest job creating sector, projecting they will create more than half a million jobs in future decades. Currently the sector is contributing over $160 billion to the Australian economy each year.
With our strong culture of supporting entrepreneurship, Centre researchers launched two new enterprises: AlphaOne.ai and Nuarda.
Centre Chief Investigator Tom Drummond from our Monash node, teamed up with two former students to create AlphaOne.ai. The start-up provides consulting services that help businesses learn how to deal with issues like handling big data for their customers, logistics and processes, or dealing with a lot of visual inspection. These are expensive problems for companies to solve.
“I think a lot of business leaders are looking at these new technologies and thinking they should find out more,” Tom said.
“The expertise doesn’t reside in these businesses, so they need an external party to help develop, then support that technology into the future, so it can be integrated into their business processes.”
That’s where Alphaone.ai comes in.
The start-up also serves another need, according to Tom: Keeping talented people from leaving Melbourne.
“There are lots of opportunities for them to move to Silicon Valley and take jobs there, but Melbourne is a great city,” Tom said. “So having an opportunity to prevent the ‘brain drain’ provides a way to build up the entrepreneurial activity within the city.”
In addition to their work in Melbourne, the group is already starting to handle clients outside of Australia.
Nuarda has evolved out of the Centre’s CloudVis project, which allows computationally intensive processing tasks to be done in the cloud. People and robots can access the latest algorithms without needing specialised hardware, or software.
Research engineer, Steve Martin and software engineer, Gavin Suddrey launched the start-up as a means of bringing computer vision technologies to the mass consumer market.
The pair identified the task of taking state-of-the-art technologies from the lab to the real-world as a significant challenge, including the amount of domain expertise needed to set up many of these systems. At the same time, QUT bluebox announced its robotics accelerator program and the team saw an opportunity to gain some seed funding. The program also gave them invaluable guidance on defining their market and they further refined their product: Nuarda.
As part of the team’s involvement in QUT bluebox, they entered Nuarda into the ‘QUT bluebox Innovation Challenge’, making their way into the finals from a field of 300 applicants.
Nuarda won an industry-sponsored prize from the people at ShapeLabs.
Steve and Gavin are now working on commercialising their product.