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Ascalia joins Made Smarter Technology Accelerator to explore new industry verticals and expand the capability of its IoT and machine learning technology.

Using a mixture of Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning technologies, Ascalia enables any factory to connect, analyse and optimise its production facilities at a low capital cost, creating savings in energy and resources.

Ascalia was founded in 2018 by Marin Bek and Dejan Strbad, who combined their experience in IT, software development and industrial automation to realise their vision of connecting machinery to the latest technology, digitising production lines and modernising machinery.

“When we started, we were not so specific,” said Marin Bek, co-founder and CEO of Ascalia. “I said, let’s just connect machinery and see where it takes us.

“So, we started out with smart cities, smart infrastructure and smart factories. Then I personally spent a lot of time in different factories,” he added. “I visited more than 160 different factories – so if there is a product you’re interested in, I can probably tell you how it’s made.”

Visiting these factories gave Marin an insight into the state of production in Europe, where he saw a gap in the market to address: targeting dirty industries – heavy polluters, such as the production of wood pulp, paper products and metals.

“This is why we focus on the verticals of woodworking, metalworking and food and beverage,” Marin explained.

“We found those verticals to be a bit forgotten by the modernisation community and Industry 4.0 startups, because everyone wants to be in mobility, automotive or high tech.

“People are not so interested in the dirty industries, but they’re growing verticals and very demanding with their own specific problems.”

Ascalia helps the manufacturing industry use AI and edge-IoT to improve productivity, increase product quality and reduce waste.

Ascalia is an integrated end-to-end Industry 4.0 system for factories, giving them process traceability and optimisation, predictive maintenance and AI-enabled quality control capabilities securely and without a large capital investment.

Ascalia is a complete manufacturing solution, beginning at the start of production and continuing all the way to the warehouse, as Marin explained:

“The first step is digitalisation and connecting the machinery. We have a very holistic approach, so we don’t care about the mixture of machinery manufacturers or generations of machinery; this is part of our uniqueness.

“We have two or three approaches on how we get the data, depending on the status of the machinery. Then, we build on finding the bottlenecks to establish how we can help the factory optimise its manufacturing; this could be using AI to improve quality or optimise resources.”

By digitalising the system, Ascalia can find solutions to component parts rather than replacing the whole production line, delivering a cost-effective solution for manufacturers.

Ascalia joins Made Smarter Technology Accelerator to explore new industry verticals and expand the capability of its technology.

In 2020 Ascalia joined the Digital Catapult Made Smarter Technology Accelerator, created to advance the adoption of new technologies and the digitalisation of the manufacturing industry. The programme aims to help manufacturers solve some of their key industry challenges, as companies from the UK’s digital technology innovation community develop prototypes to solve these problems.

Ascalia were selected to solve one of the industry-focused challenges set by Sainsbury’s. The food retailer was looking for a solution to help guarantee the absence of bacteria in ready-to-eat foods.

For the challenge, Ascalia developed a prototype using hyperspectral imaging, a new technology, which only recently found its way from the laboratory to industry. Paired with Ascalia’s artificial intelligence technology, hyperspectral imaging cameras can detect food spoilage and other quality issues directly on the production line in real time.

During the 12-week prototyping development phase, Digital Catapult helped Ascalia shape its solution into a working prototype design. At the same time, the cohort had access to investment mentorship, workshops and support to become investment-ready.

This three-month turnaround was faster than any other programmes the team had been involved in before.

“It became a challenge when we realised there was no getting around it when they said 12 weeks,” said Marin Bek.

“Our experience with other EU programmes or grants had been very different, involving lots of bureaucracy and delays. We were pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of Digital Catapult, who had very clear metrics for the programme and did not only push us, but also Sainsbury’s.

“So we liked it a lot,” Marin added. “First and foremost, we proved to ourselves that it’s really possible to achieve something within three months.”

The programme also enabled Ascalia to explore new industry verticals and test new approaches to food safety challenges.

“Working with Digital Catapult allowed us to work with Sainsbury’s on a very challenging problem in their industry, using a new technology and approach, which otherwise would not be possible had we decided to do it ourselves.”

Today, the company has offices in London and Zagreb, with nearly 30 people in the team. Ascalia has successfully raised more than £1 million in funding and is currently raising another £800,000 to support the company’s growth.

With plans to expand the business to other countries, Ascalia is actively in talks with three European industry partners. The next step is to target the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), with the aim to increase sales in this area, as well as in Europe and the UK.

Ascalia was one of 6 winners at the 2021 Digital Catapult Awards, showcasing the best UK technology startups and scaleups that have grown and developed through Digital Catapult’s programmes and innovation activities.

Ascalia paired hyperspectral imaging cameras with artificial intelligence to solve a challenge set by Sainsbury’s.