A Kitchener startup called Emagin that utilizes artificial intelligence to optimize water management has been acquired by U.S.-based water software and services company Innovyze, the two firms announced Tuesday. Terms were not disclosed.
Emagin, which got its start in Velocity in 2016, was co-founded by COO Mohamad Vedut and CEO Thouheed Abdul Gaffoor, both of whom are University of Waterloo graduates. The company has 30 employees and operates out of the Communitech Hub in the Tannery.
“The question for us was, what is the next step?” said Gaffoor. “How do we continue to be able to have that global footprint and expand our impact?
“We saw [Innovyze] as a natural partner, and we kind of started having conversations about an investment, and then that investment discussion quickly turned into an acquisition.”
Business will continue as usual for the Kitchener operation, Gaffoor said, but the company now has the means to aggressively grow. The plan is to double its workforce in 2020.
“I think the biggest thing is global impact,” said Gaffoor. “Now we have the resources and support from a massive, global company that can help us scale. And from a local perspective, we can continue to support and hire from the region.”
Innovyze, which has operated in the water technology sphere for more than 30 years, has about 200 employees and is headquartered in Portland, Ore.
“One of the hot new movements in water technology is machine learning and artificial intelligence,” said Innovyze CEO Colby Manwaring. “Emagin brings proven technology in the water industry in those areas, so we see an opportunity to take this new technology that Emagin has developed to the world.”
Manwaring said the company additionally views Emagin as a conduit to the rich pool of talent in the Waterloo Region ecosystem.
“The hunt for talent, especially software technology talent, is a tough hunt. So the location here in Kitchener-Waterloo, with access to the University of Waterloo, where there’s a proven reputation in AI and machine learning, brings a prestige and a reputation that we can take around the world.
“And as a growth company, we are constantly looking to hire and bring people in, so it’s great to be located near a source of what we consider premier data science and AI science.”
Water management is a growing worldwide issue, particularly outside of North America where the resource is scarce and expensive.
Emagin creates a digital copy of a utility’s infrastructure and then its algorithms are able to find usage and cost efficiencies. It has customers worldwide, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, and also nearby in Guelph and Barrie.
Its products are useful to any industry that uses vast quantities of water for production – food and beverage and pulp and paper are two examples.
“There’s a lot more regulatory pressure [for water] in Europe because of climate change and there’s serious implications to that, so utilities are highly responsive,” said Gaffoor. “Same thing with the Middle East, where water scarcity is a massive issue. There’s this delicate vulnerability, where their energy supply and their food and agricultural production is heavily tied to water.
“So that’s why there are bigger drivers for us to be adopted there. So, interestingly enough, we went global before local.”
Communitech is a partner of Startup HERE Toronto. This article originally appeared on their site.