Global solar inspection and data analysis company Above has expanded to larger offices in Colchester as its ongoing partnership with the University of Essex helps keep its intelligent software ahead of the field.
Above has moved to a new, larger base at Parkside on the University’s Knowledge Gateway research and technology park as it grows its service for solar farms across Europe, Asia, Australia and the Pacific.
Thanks to three different Knowledge Transfer partnerships (KTPs) with the University, Above has refined its data analytics capabilities to provide detailed health reports for solar energy companies which pinpoint anomalies within Solar PV (photovoltaic) cells and allow targeted maintenance.
Above’s Founder and CEO Will Hitchcock explained: “Our cloud-based SolarGain platform is already extremely efficient at revealing defects, but we continue to develop the use of artificial intelligence. This will move us towards using fully autonomous drones which will be able to fly closer to the panels and auto-analyse the data. Our current KTP with the University’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering aims to maintain our position as a market leader, creating new insights through data analysis which will help us deliver predictive solar plant maintenance strategies.”
Above was founded in 2016, originally conducting aerial inspections of solar farms using drones. It moved to Parkside two years later as its software development started to revolutionise inspection and monitoring across the solar sector.
Above’s new larger base adjoining the University’s Colchester Campus sees it continuing to forge relationships with academics to innovate and collaborate together on further research and development.
The recently completed ‘Follow PV’ project with the universities of Loughborough and Essex seeks to advance the use of autonomous drone technology to carry out smarter solar plant inspections.
Working together brings the business perspective about what the technology needs to do alongside the latest AI and data analytics innovations being developed by the University, says Will. Plus, he adds, being based at the Knowledge Gateway creates opportunities to attend University seminars and events, network with other tech businesses and learn about the latest funding streams.
Above’s expansion into a global operation has been enhanced by several rounds of venture capital funding, including from the Clean Growth Fund, which supports low carbon innovators.
Jamie Burns, Head of Operations at the University, said: “We are proud to see Above expanding on our Knowledge Gateway. They were one of our first tenants in the second phase of Parkside and are exactly the type of business that stands to gain from our research expertise and the availability of talented students and graduates to work with them.”
Current KTP Associate and Essex Masters Graduate Estaban Arellano completed a Graduate Traineeship with Above before moving into his KTP role. Estaban said: "Through Essex Interns and the KTP programme, the University connected me to Above where I am now working with cutting-edge technology to develop machine learning algorithms to develop Above's big data services. Above is a real innovator and its expansion is impressive. I think the University benefits from its partnership with such a dynamic company."
Alongside the move to larger offices to accommodate its growing number of technologists and researchers, Above has recently appointed an Innovation Project Manager to oversee research and development projects and ensure its technological progress continues.
With the solar energy business widely tipped to achieve massive growth, it is an exciting time for Above as it settles into its new headquarters on the Knowledge Gateway.
To find out more about moving to Parkside on the Knowledge Gateway, and the development of its third and largest phase, see www.3a.knowledge-gateway.co.uk or contact lettings agents Ben Le Coq, Carter Jonas (07776 181799) or Ewan Dodds, Whybrow (07957 862773).