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Skalata supports Queensland Uni graduates in software startup transforming chemical engineering

A software startup developed by two University of Queensland graduates has raised $200,000 in a Seed round backed by Melbourne VC Skalata Ventures.

Lewi Software is tackling a non-sexy part of chemical asset management: wastewater management, which has suffered from underinvestment in the software compared to the rest of the industry. $4 trillion global chemical industry.

Co-founders Vishnu Avudainayagam and Geraldine Terada-Bellis said that in Australia, about 22 utilities alone service $100 billion worth of wastewater assets. But unlike profit-driven industries such as oil and gas, where millions are poured into software development, wastewater was left behind.

“The chemical engineering software we use in the industry was all developed in the 1990s, using toolbars with more than 50 buttons and software packages that were essentially a Microsoft Paint-style interface,” said Avudainayagam.

It is complicated and difficult to use. We’ve seen other startups change the game in terms of user experience with programs like Figma and Canva. So we asked ourselves, why is engineering software so behind in terms of product lead and user-centric experiences?”

With the current standard, data is plotted in Excel spreadsheets and engineers are forced to go through them manually to check calculations, consuming valuable time and delaying projects.

Terada-Bellis said Lewi’s product and algorithms enable managers to make unified decisions to improve asset performance by integrating process data with the computational models developed by their engineers.

She said the software is adaptable for “any process engineer or chemical engineer, working in everything from bulk chemical production, to biofuels, to food and beverage production, to drinking water”.

The pair trained as water and environmental engineers and are also programmers, and their platform has already been used by blue chip clients such as Urban Utilities and Rio Tinto.

Nimrod Klayman, Head of Entrepreneurship at the University of Queensland congratulated its alumni on securing their first round of funding after completing the university’s ilab Accelerator Program.

“This is a huge achievement and a testament to the team’s hard work and dedication. With Skalata’s support, Lewi will continue to grow,” he said.

Skalata investment manager Tom Smalley said Lewi embodies the VC’s interest in traditionally “boring” companies.

“We enjoy working with teams that have deep domain expertise and are passionate about solving huge pain points in notoriously overlooked industries,” he said.

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