TU Delft spin-off and Delft Enterprises portfolio company Villari has announced its seed investment of €2.5 million by lead investor FORWARD.one and co-investors InnovationQuarter Capital and Delft Enterprises.
Villari successfully developed and demonstrated innovative sensor technology to detect and monitor small fractures or “fatigue cracks” in steel structures. The monitoring of even the tiniest cracks is crucially important for steel assets that experience intense loads, like bridges with frequent traffic, or industrial cranes lifting heavy weights around the clock. “The current standard of monitoring still involves an incredible amount of manual labor. For instance, several specialists are involved for multiple days to reliably examine a harbor crane for cracks. This makes the inspection process expensive and inefficient, not to mention the losses suffered through down-time of an asset that should operate 24/7”, says Olivier Baas, founder and CEO at Villari. Baas explains: “The industry has seen little innovation because available technologies are unable to detect cracks remotely with a comparable level of reliability.”.
Safeguarding vital infrastructural assets
During his graduation project at TU Delft, Baas developed a novel crack sensing technology that utilizes magnetic field variations. “Crack formation causes local changes in the magnetic induction field that can be measured with high confidence using our proprietary hardware and sensing algorithms. The resulting data is correlated to crack growth which customers can monitor at all times through a user-friendly dashboard. Contrary to manual inspection, our customers can operate their assets without obstructions while crack data is continuously being acquired, thereby optimizing their decision making process with regard to maintenance or replacement”, Baas comments.
Villari’s sensor solution is patented and already installed at several customers, safeguarding assets including bridges owned by the Dutch Government and several industrial cranes at harbors and steel manufacturing sites in Europe.
Looking beyond bridges and cranes
“We are very excited to support Villari in their journey to change an industry that is ready for innovation”, says Paul Pruijmboom, managing partner at FORWARD.one. “The growing number of aged bridges and industrial cranes that will inevitably show crack formation demonstrates the need for a solution that is much more scalable than the current status quo. With their installed base of sensors, Villari has proven to hold a feasible and more affordable solution.”
The investment will help Villari to accelerate international roll-out of their technology. Together with COO Floris Achterberg, Baas will expand the team with engineers and sales talents to ignite the scaling process. Besides bridges and cranes, Baas sees further promising applications: “crack monitoring in offshore wind turbines is an even bigger challenge given its complex accessibility and harsh environment. Most wind turbines are still relatively young, but this will change in a few years from now, creating another large market for our unique solution”.
Villari is a tech startup based in Delft, The Netherlands, and develops solutions to reliably measure and predict crack growth in steel structures. The company was founded in 2019 and was built on previous investments by Delft Enterprises and business angel David Cerda Salzmann and with support from proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ. Villari is managed by Olivier Baas (founder and CEO) and Floris Achterberg (COO).