2019 Winner: Outstanding Science and Technology Start-Up

Improving Efficiency Through Internet of Things Aggregation

SensorUp is a cloud-based Internet of Things platform that aggregates IoT silos into a coherent system of systems and transforms them into actionable insights. Industrial companies leverage SensorUp to unlock real-time operational data and receive early warnings before problems happen or lives are risked. SensorUp’s clients include the US Department of Homeland Security, Lockheed Martin, NASA JPL and Cando Rail Services. We spoke with Founder Steve Liang.

What problem or opportunity did you identify and seek to address?

Every organization wants to have real-time visibility, asset performance and early warning notification to run their operations much more effectively and efficiently, but right now they don’t.

While we provide these solutions, we aggregate multiple Internet of Things systems to provide better operational efficiency and safer working environments. The first generation of IoT systems were independent siloed systems designed and deployed for specific applications. The next phase unlocks the real potential because now IoT is about the data, not about the system. Now it’s about aggregating all your data together and running artificial intelligence and machine learning to access more insights.

AI and machine learning are more effective when they are together and that’s where we come in. We combine all the systems together, add context and clean and enrich the data so you can run much better AI processes. Typically, our clients are looking for two things: operational efficiency and safety. We can provide the solutions and improvements very quickly. After the first month, they can find 10 per cent savings in their field operation and improved safety in the working environment.  

What has been the impact?

SensorUp is a game-changing technology because we’re allowing our clients to unleash the potential of their AI to run more efficient and safer operations. This company has the potential to be massive because when you have more sensors, systems and data aggregated in one place—as a single source of truth—then you can access a greater number of improved insights.

A lot of people ask, “why is a professor is doing this”? I found this interesting. For me as a professor building this company, I have two objectives. The first objective is to provide unique experiences for my employees, some of whom are my former students. Together we’re building something very innovative and with a global impact. The second objective is wealth creation. I feel very happy when my former students or employees tell me they just bought a house.

How has being in Alberta helped you find success?

SensorUp is an IoT platform for the geospatial industry and Alberta is the capital of both geospatial technologies and artificial intelligence. Combining it all together, this is the perfect place to be. I’m also a professor and have the added benefit of finding great talent; I know what they can do.

Who have been your major supporters?

I really appreciate the support I have received in Alberta. First, I want to thank my mentors. Second, the government funding programs have been very supportive. Alberta Innovates and IRAP have been very helpful. Of course, the University of Calgary, the students, Cybera and the innovation ecosystem are all great supporters. It’s a good ecosystem and I like the Alberta “can-do” attitude where we can do it and we can do it here. I love it.

What are the plans for the future?

The future of SensorUp is to build something massive. I want to grow to be the innovation leader in the geospatial IoT and AI industry. It might sound like buzzwords coming together, but it’s what we really do.

How does it feel to be an ASTech Finalist?

I am very excited and thrilled to be a Finalist. I’ll be happy if I win the award.