In the last few years, U.S. and foreign investors have turned their attention to construction technology companies focused on helping contractors take advantage of the time- and money-saving benefits of automation.
Quoting from a recent report from research company CREtech, The Wall Street Journal reported that venture capital investment in private contech firms increased from $352 million in 2016 to more than $6 billion in 2018 and noted that 2019 funding is on track to surpass that.
McKinsey partner Jose Luis Blanco told Construction Dive that the technologies gaining the most momentum in construction are artificial intelligence, digital twins (including the use of drones employed in that effort), robotics and 3D printing.
A recent competition hosted by the venture capital arm of Mexican cement manufacturer Cemex highlighted 10 startups that are poised to make an impact on the industry. Open to companies across the world, the contest was evaluated by experts in construction, investment and entrepreneurship roles. The winning startups are:
- 360 Smart Connect
This French company has patented a traceability/encapsulation system that inserts near-field communication chips into prefabricated cement parts. Once the parts are installed, the chips can collect a wide array of information, from quality control documents to operational information.
This Argentina-based firm produces artificial gravel from recycled plastics. Its product is three times lighter and 10 times more insulating power than conventional gravel at a lower cost, according to the company.
Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., this company's free software tool helps facilitate the real-time management of heavy equipment and logistics in complicated construction projects.
This predictive analytics platform developed in San Francisco uses historical project data to produce accurate estimates for new construction and development projects.
Created by two Australian brothers to digitize the supply chain, Matrak allows teams to track and share real time information at every stage of construction, from manufacturing and shipping to installation and callback.
This U.K.-based startup offers an automated code checker to ensure that building designs meet local regulations.
Based in Austria, the company makes construction management software that helps improve project documentation and inter-team communication.
This Norwegian company's system uses 3D models to automate the prefabrication of reinforcement cages using industrial robots.
- Thunderbolt Pipeline
Developed in Dover, New Hampshire, this intelligent end-to-end platform uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to reduce risks and allow preconstruction teams to make more competitive offers through enhanced workforce planning, CRM and bid tracking.
- Vero Solutions
This Canadian company's modular design system for steel and cement was launched in the summer of 2018 by four veteran construction executives.