The University of Southampton

ECS entrepreneurs secure £100k seed investment for retail customer tracking system

Published: 27 March 2018
Jaime Lomeli and Daniel Martinho-Corbishley of Aura Vision Labs

Machine learning experts from the University of Southampton have completed a £100,000 seed investment deal for a retail technology startup founded from PhD research in Electronics and Computer Science (ECS).

Aura Vision Labs will join the Collider accelerator this summer having innovated a cloud-based platform that can detect the gender, age and clothing styles of every person in a crowd.

The marketing, advertising and technology – or MadTech – startup uses computer vision and biometric identification techniques to analyse CCTV video footage, producing valuable insights into customer behaviour that can help boost sales performance and loyalty.

Co-founders Daniel Martinho-Corbishley and Jaime Lomeli have built the startup on PhD research undertaken in ECS' Vision, Learning and Control research group and have been based for the past year in the University’s Future Worlds incubator. The team will move this summer as they join the London-based Collider accelerator, one of Europe’s leading hubs for the MadTech industry.

“We’re thrilled to announce this important step in our startup journey and are looking forward to progressing our business alongside our new investors,” Jaime says. “With a few other offers on the table, we decided to close this deal because of the valuable experience the Collider team can provide. Our interests are well aligned. In the coming months we will be working further on our platform and exploring in detail what elements can create even greater value for our customers.”

Aura Vision Labs’ cost effective solution captures up to 100 per cent of in-store visitor demographics, dwell spots, walk-ins and walk-bys. This data can be accessed and analysed by retailers through a cloud-based platform to improve conversion rates, act on missed opportunities and target specific customer segments, all without needing to access sensitive personal information.

The tech startup was launched last spring when the team first pitched the idea at an on-campus Dragons’ Den style investment competition. The entrepreneurs have been based in the University’s Future Worlds incubator since the summer and received early-stage support from the Web Science Institute’s Z21 Innovation Fund.

“The past year has been a great experience,” Jaime adds. “We’ve been continually learning and developing through mentoring and support from the University. This January, we exhibited with the Future Worlds incubator at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and this has resulted in several very important leads that are becoming our first key partnerships. We plan to release a scalable platform in the next few months, before raising a second round of investment to scale up and expand our customer base.”

Find out more about Aura Vision Labs through their video, made by the University's Future Worlds incubator.

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