How a startup born at USP attracted the giant WEG, which earns BRL 23 billion
Mvisia, a smart camera company that was born inside the university campus, is today at the forefront of a technological change within the multinational WEG
Since it was acquired by the multinational WEGin 2020, Mvisia has brought an innovative DNA to the company founded in the 1960s. Responsible for creating artificial intelligence and computer vision systems applied to surveillance cameras, Mvisia is today at the forefront of a technological revolution in the lines of WEG production, ranging from sockets and switches to aircraft turbines.
The attempt is to bring a new perspective to the call industry 4.0which uses still unusual technologies to automate and anchor production lines based on data and algorithms.
In practice, Mvisia’s cameras work as “inspectors” capable of identifying signs of failure in manufacturing. An example is the absence of pills in medicine packs, superficial defects in furniture or even if the machine operator is complying with safety protocols, such as the use of masks.
For industries that produce thousands of items daily, the prior identification of defective products is something capable of saving millions of reais.
Mvisia was founded in 2012 by engineers Fernando Lopes, Fernando Velloso, Henrique Oliveira and Cassiano Casagrande, who met while studying at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (Poli-USP). “Mvisia was born, had its childhood and is now at the beginning of its adult life in a large group”, says Fernando Velloso, director of Mvisia.
The multinational’s interest in the São Paulo startup happens, in large part, thanks to the need for hastily digitization faced by the national industry, especially after the covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, from industrial automation, the company’s main focus, WEG also started to direct efforts to automate its production lines with the use of artificial intelligence. “We have seen with good eyes how the market has been opened for this type of business”, says José Bastos Grillo, WEG’s digital business director.
With this in mind, the company launched IoT WEGnology, a platform dedicated to meeting the demands of Industry 4.0 — and of which Mvisia is a part. In the wake of these efforts to keep up with the digitization of the industry, the WEG also acquired three other startups in the last two years. “These are investments that position us as an interesting player in this digital segment,” she says.
All acquisitions involved the transfer of at least 51% of the startups’ control. The transaction values, however, were not disclosed.
Now part of the group, Mvisia should facilitate WEG’s adherence to some of the most prominent segments of the national industry, and also more adept to innovation. This is the case of agribusiness, the automobile sector, and the food and beverage industry. “Imagine being able to prevent drinks from being made without straws. It’s something that will be possible with Mvisia’s technology”, says Grillo.
Changes in work mode
Now, WEG helps Mvisia to expand the production of smart cameras. With this, in addition to the financial investment, the presence in the WEG group also gives the startup the opportunity to connect with the multinational’s large customers, in addition to having access to WEG’s industrial plants and shared offices — the main one in Jaraguá do Sul, Santa Catarina. Catherine.
The proposal is that all startups acquired by the giant can work physically close to WEG’s own employees. “The pandemic anticipated a trend that today has become a competitive differentiator for technology companies: decentralized work,” says Velloso.
By the end of the year, the intention is to bring together around 400 people on the interactive platform and solutions and also in the coworking spaces in Jaraguá do Sul and São Paulo.
In the long term, the approach with startups like Mvisia promises improve export levels of digital products from WEG, developed in partnership with these companies. Today, this vertical represents only 5% of the company’s revenue. “It’s a plan that will last at least two years, but it’s of utmost relevance to us,” says Grillo.