Edinburgh digital mapping specialist in hiring mode after securing £2.6 million investment

An Edinburgh-based digital mapping specialist that counts Deutsche Bahn and Network Rail among its clients has secured a £2.6 million investment as it looks to hire more engineers.

Machines With Vision will also use the funding boost to support ongoing product development.

The innovation underpinning the technology developed by the capital firm is the creation of a visual map of the ground surface captured by sensors installed on the underside of transport vehicles such as trains.

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The technology enables network operators to distinguish between suspected faults and actual defects, allowing predictive maintenance measures to be taken.

Shona Martin (sensor engineer), Tim Lukins (co-founder and CTO), Anthony Ashbrook (co-founder and CEO) and Wei Deng (senior software engineer) of Machines With Vision. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Old College Capital - the University of Edinburgh’s in-house venture investment fund - former Skyscanner chief executive and co-founder Gareth Williams, and Olaf Hesse, one of the company’s commercial team, are also participating in the funding round, which has been led by Par Equity, the Edinburgh-based investment firm that backs early-stage tech businesses.

Anthony Ashbrook, chief executive and co-founder of Machines With Vision, said: “We are at the forefront of using data to radically improve the efficiency of railways and on the back of this investment round, we’re excited to bring more people on board to deliver on this vision.

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“Transport accounts for almost a quarter of global CO2 emissions, so moving travel by air and road to railways is essential for sustainability.”

Aidan MacMillan, senior investment manager at Par Equity, added: “The fact that two of Europe’s largest railway infrastructure players are already using the technology developed by Machines With Vision gives you an idea of how far Anthony and his team have already progressed, and we are really pleased to be supporting the company through its next phase of growth and the commercial opportunities opening up for the business.”

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Machines With Vision was founded in 2016 by Ashbrook, Tim Lukins, Jan Wessitzer and Matt Farrugia. Ashbrook has more than 20 years’ experience in computer vision and has been a founding member of four start-ups.

Machines With Vision’s technology can geo-locate infrastructure measurement data with better than 10cm accuracy rates, across the entirety of a railway network, including the areas where global satellite signals are poor or unavailable.

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In 2018, the company began a two-year technology trial on Network Rail’s new measurement train and last year the firm’s technology was procured for two new Network Rail diagnostic trains, with the fleet being further expanded in 2022.

In 2019, the firm entered into a commercial contract with Deutsche Bahn’s diagnostic train division, Fahrwegmessung, to improve the quality of its geo-spatial data.

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Machines With Vision is one of the start-up and scale-up technology companies featuring at Turing Fest’s Level Up career event for tech professionals, being held on March 26 at the Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh.

Since it was founded in 2008, Par Equity has invested more than £110m across 69 companies, leveraging a further £210m of capital from third-party investors. In 2021, the firm deployed more than £25m into tech companies.

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The investment outfit backs emerging technology ventures across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England.

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