Startups to Watch: Concrete solutions at Giatec Scientific

Mark Brownlee
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To hear Aali Alizadeh talk, accurately detecting major engineering issues with old buildings or overpasses may make one feel a little less comfortable to be in the office or driving home.

The Giatec Cell allows users to detect corrosion in concrete.

In some cases, he said, the quality of the concrete that’s being used to build these structures in the first place is not great. In others, the ability to detect concrete that’s worn down over time is challenging.

Mr. Alizadeh and his business partner, Pouria Ghods, decided to put their PhDs in engineering to use in creating Giatec Scientific.

The company has developed four different devices that allow engineers to test the quality of concrete either when a project is being constructed or in the intervening years, after it has had a chance to break down.

The Giatec RCON, for instance, allows engineers to measure electrical restivity. This allows them to measure issues like cracking.

“Essentially this would result in the diminishment of unwanted collapses and unwanted damages that are going to happen more and more in the next few years as the structures are aging in developed countries such as the U.S. and Canada,” said Mr. Alizadeh.

Many inspections currently draw heavily from engineers simply looking at a parking garage or bridge for cracks that are visible to the eye. By the time that happens, though, there are usually significant problems.

“We detect the damages at the initiation stage, even before it gets to cracking,” Mr. Alizadeh said. “That way the owner can prioritize their maintenance and repair schedules ahead of time so that they know that, for example, this particular bridge is going to need repairs in five years.”

We decided to bring more than 10 years of research experience and technological advancement from universities to the industry by building technology tools and methods. Aali Alizadeh, CEO, Giatec Scientific

Mr. Aalizadeh doesn’t see too many obstacles standing in the way of the business model either. He said the company is the only one of its kind in North America, is adding to its list of about 100 clients and will be revenue neutral before the end of the year.

The firm has also secured an avenue for future growth.

Giatec has reached an agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation that will force companies building projects such as overpasses to use the company’s devices to test out their concrete as it is poured.

Founded: 2010

Local head count: Nine

Funding: About $1 million, including from the federal government’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, IRAP and the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Selected client list: Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation

Product: Devices that allow engineers to detect structural issues in buildings and other projects.

Organizations: Ontario Ministry, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Ontario Centres

Geographic location: U.S., Canada, North America New York New Jersey

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