Posted on June 12, 2018 by staff

BGF gives roadscape company smooth ride with £2.7m backing


A highways technology company tackling potholes through data has secured £2.7m investment from BGF (Business Growth Fund) to expand its ground-breaking ‘roadscape’ services.

Gaist has amassed a huge library of data about the UK’s road network which it will use in the war against potholes, which are increasingly the bane of drivers’ lives around the country.

The tech captures and analyses continuous, high-definition imagery – 900 times the detail of Google Maps – about road conditions and the highways network.

The company has developed this into revolutionary and IP-rich proprietary software, which can be imported into the systems of highways network operators, local authorities, mapping companies, major utilities and other blue-chip firms.

The company has been working closely with the Department of Transport to develop a smarter approach to the identification, management and repair of potholes.

Its services are helping improve the country’s vital infrastructure through projects such as Pothole-spotter, as well as using its data to enable digital inspections.

Gaist has collected more than 1.5 billion megabytes of imagery over the past 10 years, including the entire classified road network in England, with more roads now being added.

Its machine learning research, smart algorithms and AI capability are now being used to analyse all roadscape information in the UK.

These capabilities position Gaist at the forefront of the digital mapping market, where growth opportunities are being driven by the new-breed of autonomous vehicle makers and drone suppliers.

The market for the so-called ‘splines’ or digital maps used by driverless cars is expected to be worth $24.5 billion by 2050.

The company’s technology, known as HighwayView, and expertise have been attracting attention from countries that want to better maintain and understand their roads.

“Domestic demand for our services continues to grow,” said Gaist founder and CEO Steve Birdsall.

“At the same time, we are delighted to see our AI-driven technology gain international recognition. Both of these areas represent significant opportunities.

“While we continue to focus on working with Highways Departments, we are increasingly working with private sector organisations and utility companies who have never before been able to access the deep learning analysis that we are able to provide.

“To date, we have self-funded investment into the company and in collecting and productising our data sets. Bringing BGF on board as a non-controlling investor will allow us to accelerate our growth plans and respond to the growing demand for our services and expertise.”

BGF investor Pinesh Mehta said: “Improving our roads has been a burning issue in recent months, but there is also a growing and longer-term requirement – from both the public and private sectors – for access to accurate and detailed data to better understand the behaviour and utilisation of our road networks.

“Gaist is at the forefront of this mapping technology, services and expertise, and has created a scalable business with a reputation for innovation and delivery.

“We are delighted to be backing Steve and the team as they implement their ambitious UK and international growth plans.”